The University of Texas of the Permian Basin will sponsor a conference in late February that dives into water and energy issues critical to the region and to the industry that drives its economy.
The Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference begins Feb. 20 with a reception at the Petroleum Museum, with keynote speaker Michael Webber, the deputy director of the UT Energy Institute. Sessions follow during the next three days at the Midland County Horseshoe Arena and will tackle water topics such as supply and usage trends, transportation, regulations, disposal, technology and concentrated local impacts in the country’s most prolific oil province.
“It is the worldwide stage, and we do have to use the best technology to protect and develop our resources, and we do have to protect the environment and understand what we are doing as an industry,” Jonna Smoot, a board member of the water conference and a vice president of marketing at West Texas National Bank, said.
The conference, with private-sector co-sponsors, stemmed from the university’s business advisory board. It could become an annual event.
Jim Woodcock, the chairman of the university’s business advisory board and CEO of JJW Oil and Gas, said the group had considered a conference on other energy topics but settled on water as “the most pressing issue right now.”
“We are using an awful lot of water in a desert, so if we can bring groups together to look at ways to recycle this water and to reuse this water, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for our industry,” Woodcock said.
UTPB president Sandra Woodley said the university wanted to pursue the conference to be a “resource for solving problems in its community” and to highlight work of students and faculty, who will have poster sessions during the event.
“We have engineering, geology and science programs, and we want to make sure those are relevant to the Permian Basin,” Woodley said. “And there are few things more relevant to the energy industry than water. Every part of it is so important.”
Speakers will include State Sen. Charles Perry, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs; water specialists with Permian-focused oil companies such as Apache, Pioneer and Diamondback; Odessa oilman Kirk Edwards, of Latigo Petroleum; John Grant, the general manager of Odessa’s water supplier, the Colorado River Municipal Water District; and regulators with several groundwater conservation districts.
Edwards, who will be one of the keynote speakers, said the conference presents an important and timely way for the University Boulevard to address critical issues for the Permian Basin amid booming oil production that hit an all-time high in 2017.
“Technology has continued to allow these operators to drill much longer horizontal laterals than ever thought of before and the fracture stimulation treatments that the operators are putting in these wells have grown exponentially larger with the length of the laterals,” Edwards said. “That has resulted in each of these wells requiring a tremendous amount of water.”
More than 200 people have registered to attend so far.
Individual registration is $495, and sponsorships are also available. People who want to register can visit pbwiec.com. The conference is self-funding, and proceeds will also support scholarships for UTPB business and engineering students.
Smoot said “there seems to be a real need for this type of education conference regarding not just water, but water as it relates to energy and specifically in our home towns.”