Water shortages pose larger than expected threat to shale gas.

FT: “Water shortages pose a bigger threat to the global shale oil and gas industry than is widely realised, according to one of the most detailed studies to date of how much water is available at some of the world’s most promising shale sites.”
“More than a third of commercially viable shale gas deposits worldwide are in areas that are either dry or have water supply constraints, according to a study by the Washington DC-based World Resources Institute, an environmental think-tank.
The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to extract shale gas can require 7m-23m litres of water, according to the study. The total varies from well to well.
Of the 20 countries with the largest shale gas resources, eight have deposits in areas that are arid or face high to extremely high water stress, including China, Algeria, Mexico and South Africa.
Similarly, eight of the 20 countries with the largest reserves of tight oil, including shale oil, have them in regions that are arid or with high water-stress, including China, Mexico and Pakistan.
Overall, 38 per cent of viable shale gas deposits worldwide are in areas where water supplies are a potential problem. Of those with the biggest shale reserves 40 per cent have severely limited freshwater supplies.
The boom in first gas and then oil production in the US has encouraged hopes that other countries with substantial shale reserves – some larger than those in the US – will be able to establish similar industries.
….The WRI says its study is the first publicly open assessment of water availability at all potential commercial shale gas and tight oil resources worldwide.
In the US, hydraulic fracturing and drilling accounts for only a tiny percentage of all water withdrawals, but some shale reserves are in areas where competition for water is very high.
In Johnson County, Texas, for example, water withdrawals for shale gas development in 2008 were responsible for almost one third of the county’s freshwater use, the WRI study said.”