Geochemical and microbial characterizations of flowback and produced water in three shale oil and gas plays in the central and western United States

Huan Wang, Lu Lu, Xi Chen, Yanhong Bian, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Limited understanding of wastewater streams produced from shale oil and gas wells impedes best practices of wastewater treatment and reuse. This study provides a comprehensive and comparative analysis of flowback and produced water from three major and newly developed shale plays (the Bakken shale, North Dakota; the Barnett shale, Texas; and the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) basin, Colorado) in central and western United States. Geochemical features that included more than 10 water quality parameters, dissolved organic matter, as well as microbial community structures were characterized and compared. Results showed that wastewater from Bakken and Barnett shales has extremely high salinity (∼295 g/L total dissolved solids (TDS)) and low organic concentration (80–252 mg/L dissolved organic carbon (DOC)). In contrast, DJ basin showed an opposite trend with low TDS (∼30 g/L) and high organic content (644 mg/L DOC). Excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectra demonstrated that more humic acid and fluvic acid-like organics with higher aromaticity existed in Bakken wastewater than that in Barnett and DJ basin. Microbial communities of Bakken samples were dominated by Fe (III)-reducing bacteria Geobacter, lactic acid bacteria Lactococcus and Enterococcus, and Bradyrhizobium, while DJ basin water showed higher abundance of Rhodococcus, Thermovirga, and sulfate reducing bacteria Thermotoga and Petrotoga. All these bacteria are capable of hydrocarbon degradation. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens dominated the archaeal communities in all samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114942
JournalWater Research
Volume164
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

Keywords

  • Flowback water
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Produced water
  • Shale gas
  • Shale oil
  • Wastewater treatment

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