02 May 2013

Water, Water Nowhere...

As chronicled in earlier musings, the downside to the various exotic (that is to say, more than lifting it out of the ground) hydrocarbon extraction regimes is water. You need a bunch of it. In case anyone's not noticed, a report today (I couldn't get through to Quartz, for the original) crunches some numbers.
In Texas, which is suffering through a long-running drought that has devastated cattle ranchers and farmers, 51% of wells are in high or extremely high water-stressed locations. Tarrant County, Texas, alone consumed 10% of all water used in fracking in the state, according to the report.

In sum: you can drink or you can burn. Soon enough, you can't do both. The "Peak Oil" deniers always talk about other hydrocarbon deposits: shale oil, tar sands, and fracked gas. Fact is: you need a bunch of water to turn it into marketable fuel.
During the study period, drillers nationwide used 68.5 billion gallons of water -- equivalent to the amount 2.5 million people would consume in a year. But Ceres researchers said that number most likely underestimates water use by fracking because disclosures to the FracFocus database are voluntary.

The reason the "Peak Oil" conclusion was reached in the first place is simple. The net energy put into the world's economy is maximized when the only energy cost of the hydrocarbon is lifting it out of the ground. Saudi Arabia had such a resource, Gharwar, but even it has had to use water injection for some years. With secondary and tertiary resources, one may, and I stress may, be spending more joules than one eventually gets. And running out of water, which humans kind of need more.

They ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

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