Sourcewater CEO Josh Adler talks about the next steps his company will be taking using satellite imagery.
A new data platform has been launched to ease the flow of information about the water produced from Permian Basin oil fields.
Sourcewater has unveiled its WaterMap, a water GIS platform that details oil, gas and disposal well permits, water transfers from every producing well, oil and gas production curves and water and gas injection curves. It uses satellite data and offers basemaps of where water pipelines are located, frac ponds, reserve pits and well pads, geologic fault lines, seismicity and true disposal formations and injection intervals.
Noting that Permian Basin wells produce water alongside oil – oftentimes more water than oil – Joshua Adler, founder and chief executive officer of Sourcewater, told the Reporter-Telegram the question often is where that water goes.
The industry needs to know who is producing water, where that water is being produced and what producers are doing with that water, he said in a telephone interview. The information can be useful because, unlike oil and gas pipelines, water midstream companies are not required to report their locations to government agencies.
His company’s platform can benefit both water midstream companies and operators, he said.
“On the water midstream side, we show where most produced water comes from and goes to, on the surface and in the subsurface, for commercial disposal. That means a water midstream company can see which operators are sending their water long distances to disposal competitors or are injecting water into over-pressured or high-utilization disposals,” Adler said.
“Therefore, that shows where the water midstream company could offer existing or build new pipeline or disposal capacity to win that business. We also show where new oil, gas and disposal wells are planned ahead of any other source -- from our DirtWork Alert satellite imagery analytics and SWD Pre-Permit alerts for legal notices,” he said.
“And we offer the only commercial maps of water midstream pipelines, so water midstream companies can see exactly where new uncommitted water is coming online soon, and where there are infrastructure gaps they could move into to get that water. We also provide the only commercial maps of the true depths and active injection intervals for the 47 Permian disposal formations, combined with complete maps of geological faults and seismicity events, so companies that build disposal wells can understand the best geographic and subsurface placement for new wells to maximize performance and minimize risk.
“For operators, the value is all of the above, and more,” Adler said.
“The great majority of saltwater disposals are owned and operated by oil and gas producers, not by commercial disposal companies. So operators use our surface water infrastructure and subsurface geoscience insights to plan and design their water transfer, disposal and recycling facilities and minimize water management cost and risk. They also use WaterMap to make water management procurement decisions and optimize logistics, for example by seeing where they could replace water truck trips with nearby third-party pipeline access, or by negotiating better rates with disposal vendors who have low utilization, or by avoiding sending water to disposals that are over-pressured and are injecting water into formation depths near geologic fault lines,” he said.
The platform utilizes data published by the Railroad Commission. Asked how valuable that data is, Adler said a big part of the expertise his company has built over seven years is in building quality assurance and data integrity systems for handling challenging RRC data, automatically identifying and adjusting for common types of errors and omissions and delays.
“It is a daily occurrence that a customer questions something they see in the platform and we click through to the original source documents to see what was reported. You'd be surprised how often the error is something the customer reported to the RRC themselves in the underlying document. We’ve also built out many kinds of data sources that do not rely on RRC data, such as satellite imagery analytics, web data scraping, and good old-fashioned human intelligence,” he said. “For example, it is pretty common that we will see a well pad in satellite imagery, but the location on the wellbore record or drilling permit maps to the middle of a road, or somewhere off in the bushes — in those kinds of cases it is obviously the satellite image that is right, not the permit.”
Seismicity is a top concern for clients using the platform, Adler said.
He said the information lets them trace seismicity events back to the disposal sites through production and injection curves, injection depths and pressures and their location to fault lines. He said he was surprised to learn there are about 1,500 fault lines throughout the Permian Basin.
“We were able to put all these things in one place,” he said. “We need ways to look at all these factors at the same time. It’s risk management.”
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