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Facilitating Shale Play Development in Pennsylvania — Meeting the Need for Nearby Brine Disposal Wells

Skoff, Dale E.; Billman, Dan A.

Marcellus Shale exploration and production operations in Pennsylvania generate large quantities of flowback and produced water. Although there is a strong increasing trend in recycling, not all flowback and produced waters can be cost-effectively recycled due to water chemistry, lack of a nearby new well at which the water can be recycled and other factors. Brine disposal wells have an important role to play in managing such waters in a cost-effective and environmentally protective manner. The need for brine disposal wells in Pennsylvania is expected to increase as the Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays mature and tens of thousands of new wells begin generating produced water on a daily basis. Although currently there are only five permitted brine disposal wells operating in Pennsylvania and no commercial wells, there is potential to develop many additional brine disposal wells within or near Marcellus and Utica Shale producing areas.

The presentation will provide an overview of the status of currently permitted brine disposal wells in Pennsylvania and nearby states, most of which have substantially more wells than Pennsylvania. Potential target formations for brine disposal in Pennsylvania will be discussed along with procedures for identifying and evaluating specific candidate injection well sites. An overview of EPA brine disposal well permit application procedures will also be presented along with a summary of well construction and operating requirements. Ranges in capital and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) costs and the economics of utilizing brine disposal wells relative to other available options (e.g., water treatment plants) will also be discussed.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013