Fresh water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and one that we must all share, conserve and protect.

We have made strides to conserve water in our operations, but we believe more can be done. We are working to understand our impacts on water, consistently improve our operations to mitigate those impacts and be transparent about our impacts and our water management strategies. Repsol encourages early and meaningful dialogue with communities and landowners to address concerns and to share our water management plans. 

We use water in our operations for a variety of purposes such as a coolant in well drilling, in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) where water is heated to generate steam to inject into the formation to increase oil recovery, and most significantly, as a component of the fluid used to hydraulically fracture a well. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is commonly used in low-permeability rocks like tight sandstones and shale to create fractures that extend from a wellbore drilled into the targeted rock formation to optimize oil and natural gas recovery. Without fracking, production from such formations would not be impossible.

Although fracturing has been used in oil and gas development for decades, its use on a large scale to exploit shale oil and gas is relatively new and has generated concerns about the amount of water used and protection of ground water because of the chemicals contained in fracking fluids. Repsol recognized these concerns and has responded to them in how we conduct our operations.

Water Management: Walking the Talk on Sustainable Water Management

Repsol works diligently to mitigate any impacts to water in the areas in which we operate, and we do so by committing to a responsible and sustainable water management strategy. We are committed to reducing the amount of fresh water used in our developments.

Repsol’s water management strategy focuses on water storage, alternative water sources and reuse to reduce the amount of fresh water required to support our drilling and completions activities.

Repsol applies to the Alberta Energy Regulator for long-term water licences to withdraw fresh water from water bodies with the capacity to support our withdrawal requirements without negatively impacting aquatic ecosystems. Licences issued for water withdrawals will contain conditions that require Repsol to, among other things, monitor flow and withdrawal rates, adjust withdrawal rates to instream flow needs and install screens at its withdrawal sites to protect fish. These conditions ensure sustainable water withdrawals and Repsol’s water management strategy for sustainable water use aligns with these conditions.

Repsol uses large storage ponds measuring up to 120,000 cubic metres that are filled during high flow times to minimize the impact to the environment and ensure sustainable water use.

Repsol continually investigates alternative water sourcing options including deeper groundwater source identification and wastewater water reuse. As part of these investigations, we consider the environmental and community trade-offs and economic costs associated with the alternate water source.

We have assessed groundwater formations to source water for our completions operations, but the flow rates achieved were not high enough to support their use. We continue to investigate groundwater as a potential source of water for our activities.

We have, on the other hand, been successful in sourcing municipal wastewater for use in our completions activities. While this alternate sourcing does reduce the fresh water used, the increased use of trucking to transport the water does increase GHG emissions, can cause issues for the communities existing along the trucking route and has not proven to be a cost-effective alternative.

Part of Repsol’s water management strategy is to reuse as much flowback water as possible in our completions operations. We have experienced success in our Wilrich operating area where approximately 70% of our wells have used flowback water, and in Wildriver, where 30% of the wells used flowback water.


Repsol's Water Tool

Repsol in Canada has adapted a Water Tool used globally by Repsol for both the downstream business units (refining and chemical plants) and the E&P conventional assets. This initiative is a good example of integration and knowledge transfer among different business units and countries where we operate. 

This tool assesses water use in our operations and provides a rigorous analysis of internal and external risks. Some of the components include source water location, watershed specific demand, comparisons to water volume use in different parts of the business, potential impacts on ecology, and water disposal practices. Based on the risks identified and evaluated, Repsol develops action plans that outline specific prevention and mitigation actions.


The Athabasca River Basin (ARB) Initiative

Repsol participated in the ARB Initiative, a basin-wide collaborative effort to create a common understanding of the issues and opportunities and inform decision-making processes for proactive water management across the Athabasca River Basin. WaterSMART, an independent consulting company based in Calgary with a focus on sustainable water management, developed this initiative and executed it in collaboration with participants representing a broad range of water users and stakeholders (industries, government, universities, regulatory bodies, and Aboriginal groups). 

According to WaterSMART, “proactive water management means looking at the whole watershed and the current issues and changes and discussing mitigation and management options to deal with future changes in flow before they arrive.”


Ground water protection

Concerns about groundwater protection and impacts of chemicals used in fracking on groundwater are mitigated by stringent well design and construction to ensure well integrity throughout our completions and production activities.

  • We follow stringent, wellbore casing techniques that meet or exceed industry guidelines designed to protect freshwater, and we monitor our practices and strive for continuous improvement in each well program. 
  • We look for opportunities to use ‘produced water’ (water that flows back through the wellbore to the surface) by storing and reusing it in future wells.

Repsol Canada publicly discloses the composition of fluids used on our wells during the hydraulic fracturing process. We provide this information by well location, and include chemical classifications, volumes, chemical concentrations and MSDS information used by our contractors. 

The public can access the information we gather by registering with the organization on the FracFocus website. Providing this information is part of our commitment to open and transparent communications to communities and other stakeholders.

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Corporate Responsibility Strategy

Sustainability is an essential part of our forward-looking vision and the shared commitment undertaken by every one of us at Repsol