In Colombia, many territories have been the epicenter of conflicts generated by extractive activities of diverse nature. This assertion is especially true in the hydrocarbons sector, which, despite being an important branch of Colombian economy, has a great load of social, environmental and economic disturbances that, in many cases, are not adequately known or managed.
Although, Colombia's hydrocarbon production presents a wide spectrum of reservoir classes and conditions, the presence of high WOR (Water-Oil-Ratio) in most of them is a general rule. This feature tends to be increased with improved recovery methods such as steam injection.
In this country, the hydrocarbons industry annually uses 120 million m3 of water in conventional production, however, it is the treatment and disposal of associated water that represents the greater weight, requiring the treatment and disposal of more than 700 million m3 of water. This final disposal is made, mainly, by reinjection in deep aquifers without use for human activities.
Even though existing regulations adopt strict rules and parameters, in some sectors of the population, there is great resistance to the expansion of the production of hydrocarbons, derived from the adverse consequences on surface and underground water resources, attributed to the absence of specific regulations until the emergence of the Environmental General Law (Law 99 of 1993), as well as those caused by accidents, sabotage and damages, produced by anti-technical operations and aggravated by the deficient institutional capacity and knowledge to develop inspection and control activities and, if applicable, punishment for the affectation of water resources and non-compliance of prevention mechanisms.
To this is added the decrease in hydrocarbon reserves, which increases concerns not only about the survival of the sector but also about the country's fiscal viability. Given this scenario, the boom in the production of hydrocarbons from unconventional reservoirs seems to be an alternative to face these deficit scenarios, however, the fundamental question arises: Is it possible to produce unconventional deposits using hydraulic fracturing and preserving the underground water resource in each of the aspects and phases of the operation?
This presentation addresses the main dilemmas and the necessary considerations for an exemplary environmental management in a possible development of this type of hydrocarbon exploitation in Colombia