Recycling Salty Water Could Help Control Detrimental Microbes in Alberta Drill Sites


Study of two drill sites in Alberta suggests recycling saline water produced by hydraulic fracturing affects microbial growth below ground.

Recycling salty water produced from hydraulic fracturing may be effective for managing microbes at well sites in Alberta, according to a new study by University of Alberta scientists that could help inform water management strategies at other sites around the world.

The researchers, led by PhD candidate Cheng Zhong, examined the microbiology of two hydraulic fracturing sites in the Duvernay formation in central Alberta.

“Our goal is to understand how the microbial communities change as a function of time in the subsurface after the fracturing process is complete—and based on that, build recommendations for industry to better manage microbes in the subsurface,” said Zhong, who conducted the research under the supervision of geochemist Daniel Alessi and microbiologist Brian Lanoil.

Microbes in water produced at well sites can cause problems including souring the gas being extracted, corroding equipment and degrading components of hydraulic fracturing fluid, the researchers noted.

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