In California, Big Oil Finds Water Is Its Most Prized Commodity



One lesson emerging from oilfields: Operators don’t need to use expensive cleaning techniques to make wastewater suitable for drilling. Instead, less extensive but cheaper treatment is proving good enough, an insight that could help the practice take off elsewhere, Robart said.

“It’s cut out the whole high-end portion of the market,” he said. “They don’t need fancy technology. You need tried-and- true and simple and cheap.”

North of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Energy LLC has won approval for an $8 million pipeline connecting its oilfields to a local sewage treatment plant. The company will use treated effluent from the plant in drilling operations.

Capper, the Houston consultant, has been hired to boost water recycling in one company’s fields from 20 percent to as much as 90, she said.

“I don’t think they have any choice but to recycle,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

--With assistance from Lynn Doan in San Francisco.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Nussbaum in New York at anussbaum1@bloomberg.net; David Wethe in Houston at dwethe@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net; Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net Rick Schine


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