Water is one of the key ingredients facilitating the boom. In the Permian Basin, like many other oil and gas producing regions, water is scarce and over allocated. A new report by Ceres, a Boston-based environmental non-profit focused on sustainable investing and business, found that more than 70 percent of the Permian’s oil wells are in areas of extreme water stress, which means over 80 percent of surface water and shallow groundwater is already allocated.
In the Permian, 1.1 million gallons are needed to frack each well – which isn’t much compared to other parts of the country (wells in the Bakken use twice as much, and in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale each well averages over 4.4 million gallons). But the sheer number of wells in the Permian means the gallons add up, and with more wells biting into the shale every day, Ceres projects water use in the Permian to double by 2020.