Our regional water management strategy is designed to reduce the impacts of our water use on stakeholders and watersheds and to minimize risks associated with supply sourcing, produced water disposal and business interruption.
The vast majority of our water consumption, typically more than 95%, is used in completions during hydraulic fracturing. While we seek alternative sources to fresh water, such as brackish or grey water, opportunities are area-specific and can be limited or logistically challenged.
Tracking water use by quantity, quality (fresh, brackish, recycled) and source (groundwater, surface) is mandated by our Environmental Management Standard and the Regulatory Compliance element of our Responsible Operations Management System (ROMS). Each asset is also required by ROMS to conduct a risk assessment addressing local and regional sourcing constraints, capacity limitations, operational needs and disposal and infrastructure alternatives. We use the water scarcity evaluation tool Aqueduct¹, to align our water management with physical water stress levels and availability in the areas where we operate. Please see below for water stress levels by asset.
We also provide industry leadership in trade groups that share lessons learned and best practices for sustainable water management, environmental risks and technical developments.
Marathon Oil takes steps to minimize the impacts of hydraulic fracturing through proper well construction, conserving fresh water, reducing air emissions from flaring and other sources and managing waste responsibly.
To support well integrity, we follow industry best practices, internal procedures and applicable laws and regulations for proper well construction. We also conduct pre-drill sampling to evaluate the baseline quality of water sources located within a quarter mile of drill sites, select appropriate construction materials, comply with state rules for drilling and completions, utilize production safeguards, and test and monitor hydraulic fracturing during operations.
We publicly disclose hydraulic fracturing data for 100% of unconventional wells drilled and hydraulically fractured in North America in FracFocus, a voluntary online chemical registry. For additional details, read our Hydraulic Fracturing Overview, as well as the Managing Produced Water section, the Spill Prevention and Response section and the Materials Management section.
- ᵃ Generally, water use and water withdrawal are the same except for small differences due to evaporation from company owned and operated ponds.
- ᵃ Improved source water testing in the Permian as operations have matured post-acquisition has allowed for better classification of water quality.
- ᵇ Reduction in water consumption in 2020 and 2021 is largely due to a lower level of completion activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ᵃ Reduction in water consumption in 2020 and 2021 is largely due to a lower level of completion activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Managing Produced Water
To help protect surface and groundwater resources and natural habitat, we have procedures that help us manage and dispose of our produced water in accordance with federal, state and local regulations. The Responsible Operations Management System (ROMS) mandates that produced water disposition is tracked by volume, transport and disposal method. Produced water in our U.S. onshore operations is either recycled for use in the oilfield or disposed of via saltwater disposal wells. Our ability to recycle produced water is highly dependent on proximity between supply and demand, local constraints/regulations, continuity of acreage position and spill risk management.
In the U.S., we do not discharge treated, produced water to surface; thus, our total wastewater discharge in the U.S. is zero. See our Five-Year Performance table for global information. Our international discharge comprises 0.165 million barrels from our Equatorial Guinea operations (primarily our offshore platforms) and is treated to appropriate international guidelines and regulations. Pass-through, non-contact cooling water is not included in discharge values.
Marathon Oil transports the majority of our produced water via pipeline (i.e., low-carbon transportation) by utilizing a combination of midstream water-handling providers and company-owned and operated infrastructure. In 2021, approximately 61% of produced water in our U.S. operations was disposed of using pipelines, eliminating approximately 390,000 truckloads and associated emissions of 25,000 MT of CO2 while improving road safety.
U.S. Operations Produced Water Performance¹
Water Usage by Resource Play
We take a thoughtful approach to managing water sourcing, recycling, treatment, storage and disposal infrastructure across our assets.
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