With apologies to the Bard who said, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” -- it’s just not true. Maybe it’s true for the conflicting families of Romeo and Juliet, but not for the often conflicting Oil Industry and Ag Industry. What we call a thing is important because the name reflects the identity.
What does this have to do with produced water from oil wells? Everything.
A little while ago, we bumped into a major oil company lobbyist who hated, really hated, our idea of turning oil well by-product water into beneficial-use for ag and other applications, instead of injection or disposal. He said disposing of water is how it’s been done for 35 years and if we tried it, he’d take us all the way to the Supreme Court. He said they may lose, but we’d be broke. We hope he doesn’t also handle Public Relations for them.
Now, yes, we’ve been disposing of water for 35 years. That started in 1983 and we’ve all made some changes since then, right? Why not change what we do with the water from an oil well?
We just politely walked away from that lobbyist because maybe he had a bad day (or forgot his medication) and we knew that we have the future and it’s all about what we call this water.
It’s not really ‘produced water.’ The oil company didn’t invest millions of dollars to have gunky water come out of the ground. No, they are working to get oil out of the ground and keep our country moving and safe from foreign trade wars on oil. It’s a good thing. But this water is simply ‘by-product water.’ It’s the unintended consequence of drilling for oil.
This by-product water with a simple change of name and intention can become beneficial-use water. It can benefit the next frac, stop soil erosion, water crops, and keep herds thriving. And, it can be done inside the same economic model of how much it costs an oil company to dispose of that water with ponds or injection. It will only take the oil industry deciding to improve how things are done.
So, what’s in a name? Everything. Produced/by-product water can change its name and character by becoming beneficial-use. Then, the water is not a headache, but provides health to the land and all the thing that grow on it.
Change a name. Change the future. #BeneficialUseWater