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Fresh, clean water is a precious natural resource that is critical to natural ecosystems and human communities. Because water is also necessary for our operations, we developed the Energy Conserving Water initiative, or ECH2O®, a comprehensive approach to water management. We believe ECH2O demonstrates our commitment to creating Value+ in the community, the economy and the environment.

The primary goal of ECH2O has been to achieve “freshwater neutral” by the end of 2016. That is, for every gallon of fresh water we use, we will offset or replenish that gallon – in the same operating region where it was used – through water-quality improvement projects or treatment technologies that return fresh water to the environment. This voluntary effort to achieve freshwater neutrality is unprecedented in the oil and gas industry; we are unaware of another energy company that has even attempted such an ambitious goal. SWN met this goal within each of our operating divisions in 2016.

ECH2O has four components: reduction, innovation, conservation and protection.

Reduction -  We have made water sourcing and conservation a priority and even have an on-staff team of specialists continually reviewing current practices with the goal of creating better solutions. We reduce fresh water demand by decreasing the total volume of water needed and work to develop new techniques and tools in our fracturing operations to optimize water usage.

Conservation - We work with state agencies, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and other industries to enhance water quality and develop conservation projects that effect local watersheds. We will create partnerships with other industries to improve water availability through mutually beneficial projects.

Protection - We protect water resources, minimizing our impact on natural resources and watersheds where we work. Working with The Nature Conservancy, we have developed StreamSmart to provide industry leading practices ensuring effective sedimentation and erosion control. We are also engaging in research projects to enhance the protection of the environment.

Innovation - We pursue innovative technologies that will provide new means for water treatment or new ways of replacing water. We also take a leadership role in pursuit of new drilling and completions technologies directed at reduction in water use.

Freshwater Neutral

In late 2016 SWN achieved “freshwater neutral.” Achieving this goal required a strategy for reducing our freshwater use, use of alternative water, and conservation projects that would offset the fresh water we use in each of our operating areas: Fayetteville Shale, Northeast Appalachia, and Southwest Appalachia.

Fracturing Fluid

Fracturing fluid used in the company’s operations is 99.9 percent water and sand. The remaining percentage is made up of chemicals necessary for safe and effective fracturing, including biocides, friction reducers, hydrochloric acid, scale inhibitors and corrosion inhibitors. The chemical additives do not include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene or xylenes (BTEX). In addition, we do not use diesel in our fracturing fluids.

SWN was one of the first companies to report fracturing fluid composition for 100 percent of our hydraulically fractured wells to the voluntary FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. We have adopted this disclosure as a continuing practice.

Right Products Program

We developed our Right Products program, which has enabled us to honor suppliers’ right to protect CBI while also improving the environmental profiles of our fracturing fluid additives. Through Right Products, each fracturing fluid chemical is assessed against key environmental and health hazards.

If a product receives a high score in the hazard assessment and there’s not a ready substitute, we conduct a risk assessment, which considers potential exposure in addition to hazard. Risk assessment findings are presented to an internal Chemical Advisory Board for a decision and are elevated to senior management if needed. Only a handful of risk assessments have been conducted to date.

Energy Water Initiative

We are an active member of the Energy Water Initiative (EWI), a collaborative effort among oil and natural gas industry members to study, communicate and improve lifecycle water use and management in onshore oil and natural gas exploration and production. EWI seeks to gather and develop recommended management practices and technologies that industry can employ to efficiently use and conserve water resources.

In 2014, EWI undertook a project amongst a dozen of its member companies to discuss and demonstrate water management practices that are employed by the participating companies. A feature of this project was drafting a case studies report of recent oil and natural gas development lifecycle water management, with a specific emphasis on hydraulic fracturing. This report is intended to inform stakeholders of the importance the oil and natural gas industry places on water management, and the innovative strategies that individual companies have developed to efficiently use, manage and conserve this valuable resource.

Click here to view a PDF of the report.

Supporting Research

SWN participates in and helps to fund multi-party research aimed at progressing scientific knowledge, developing sound data and testing cutting-edge technologies. The following are two recent research projects relating to water that we’ve supported.
  • Groundwater Monitoring Study. In Pennsylvania, Yale University researchers drilled eight shallow groundwater monitoring wells near SWN well sites (prior to drilling or fracturing) and independently sampled and monitored these groundwater wells over three years, before and after each phase of development. Yale researchers are expected to begin writing up their findings in Fall 2017. As of Spring 2017, the researchers had found no impact on groundwater resources from the development of unconventional oil and gas activities.
  • Membrane Desalination Study. We have sponsored research, to be completed in 2017, by the Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center at the University of Arkansas, evaluating the economic viability of membrane distillation technology for desalinating flowback water. Other project partners include the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado–Boulder, with additional funding from the National Science Foundation.
ECH2O fact sheetLearn more about our water use..... "Frac Fluid - What's in it?" - fact sheet