May 1, 2014
US national security is enhanced by energy security and currently the United States is enjoying a unique opportunity to bolster both by increasing domestic production of oil and gas resources. The recent explosion in domestic unconventional production will allow an expanded bandwidth of US responses to the turmoil in the Middle East and Europe. If further exploited, the move toward energy self-sufficiency would give the United States a cushion to reassess its global strategic policies.

pdfRead the Report (PDF)

In Produced Water: Asset or Waste, Blythe Lyons focuses on the water-related issues impacting the United States’ ability to unleash domestic energy resources. Sustainable and publicly acceptable water management practices are essential for both conventional and unconventional oil and gas production. This report, based on a workshop held at the Atlantic Council, promotes the idea that sustainable water strategies require that produced water be considered as an asset rather than as a waste. 

The report is divided into four parts: The first part puts the produced water issue into perspective by looking at what is at stake both domestically and globally in the pursuit of sustainable energy and water policies. Part two summarizes the key insights gained from the workshop discussions leading into the third part which includes the workshop participants’ recommendations for regulatory activities, federal policy, state government actions, and industry approaches. The report’s fourth and final part, the appendix, contains the detailed information presented during the workshop concerning produced water characteristics, volumes, and current treatment options. 

The report reaches the conclusion that produced water is currently seen as a pollutant and detriment to environmental security, but if managed appropriately, it could be recycled and utilized as an asset and new resource in the energy industry.

Presentations from the Workshop