From Texas Standard.
The Permian Basin is in another oil boom. Output is reaching record highs and it’s expected to grow even more. But one issue facing the area is water. Water is necessary to sustain life, but natural gas companies need it for fracking operations, as well. Now, the city of Midland will become the second city in the Permian Basin, after Odessa, to make a deal with an energy company to take over some water management.
Stewart Doreen, the editor of the Midland Reporter-Telegram, has been covering this partnership between Midland and Pioneer Natural Resources since the deal was first introduced in December 2016.
Pioneer Natural resources is one of the top taxpayers and job providers in Midland, Doreen says. Though Pioneer will be taking on part of Midland’s aging water management system, Doreen says this deal shouldn’t be seen as a splash into the water business. Instead, there’s a more practical motive behind Pioneer’s deal with Midland.
“With Midland getting as big as it getting and all the growth here, repairs, updates, upgrades were going to be needed,” Doreen says. “Pioneer said ‘We’ll help you out in this area, and what we would like is to be able to get treated water.’”
With Midland getting upgrades to its water treatment facilities and Pioneer getting access to treated water, the deal has gone over well in Midland. It’s seen as undeniably agreeable for both parties.
“These type of public-private partnerships are things that we don’t see very often, at least out here,” Doreen says. “Having a company that is going to say, ‘Instead of drilling our wells and taking as much out of the ground, we’re going to take treated water,’ that’s something that seems like it’s a win-win for a lot of people.”
So far, Doreen says he has yet to hear criticism of the Midland-Pioneer deal. In fact, he says residents of Midland would be very happy if this deal could help reduce oil truck traffic and expand water supplies in the region.
“Out in West Texas sometimes we need all the help we can get with our infrastructure and other things,” Doreen says. “And if one company wants to pit itself against another and the residents of the respective cities are the ultimate winners, we’re all for that.”
Written by Kevin Wheeler.