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Water Use Performance

Our annual water use report discloses how much water energy companies in Alberta use—including how much water is being recycled—for activities including oil sands (mining and in situ), hydraulic fracturing, and enhanced oil recovery. This report is part of our industry performance program, which measures, evaluates, and reports on the energy development activities we regulate.

Hydraulic Fracturing Water Use - 2017

Nonsaline water use intensity for hydraulic fracturing has increased over 2.5 times since 2013. In 2017, companies used about 23 per cent (over 23 million cubic metres) of nonsaline water allocated for hydraulic fracturing. This produced over 440 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). This means that it took 0.59 barrels of nonsaline water to produce one BOE. 

Learn more in our detailed Hydraulic Fracturing Water Use Summary [Tableau]

Why the increase

A new technology
Hydraulic fracturing is still relatively new. Operators are still testing different ways of improving production, which can cause the amount of water used to vary. 

Varying economic and geological conditions
Economic conditions and the geological formations or groups targeted also affect water use. For example, the volume of water needed to fracture a reservoir depends on the depth, pressure, and the properties of the rock. Sometimes, you simply need more water to fracture a formation successfully. 

Water conservation

Companies can use alternatives to nonsaline water when practical to do so. We encourage companies to conserve nonsaline water when developing water management plans for hydraulic fracturing operations.

Industry performance

Evaluating company performance is not simply about who uses the least amount of water. Not only is each sector unique, but both the size of a company’s operations and how long a project has been operating matter when looking at how well a company is conserving water. 

Find out why we track industry performance.