Water Demands in the Permian Basin

October 2017

By Susan Riley, McElroy

Thousands if not millions of barrels of water are needed every day for shale oil and gas extraction. Typically, it comes from many sources delivered by hundreds of trucks daily. But one drilling and exploration company is working on a more permanent solution — one that would reduce their reliance on freshwater and provide a more reliable delivery system.

According to news reports, Pioneer Natural Resources has partnered with Midland and Odessa, Texas, to reuse their treated waste water. In exchange, the company will provide $115 million in upgrades to Midland’s water treatment plant and $117 million to Odessa.

This has resulted in one of the biggest high-density polyethylene pipelines that has ever been built in West Texas with sizes from 24- to 36-inch. Engineers say the 600-mile distribution system will be about the size of Delaware with two to four times the demand of a small suburb.


High-density polyethylene (HDPE) was selected after analyzing many pipe materials. Fused together with heat and pressure to produce leak-free joints, it can be constructed in a short amount of time, doesn’t corrode and is resistant to scaling with excellent flow characteristics.


After researching resin availability, pricing and delivery capabilities, the pipe contract was awarded to WL Plastics, DuraLine and IPP/Georg Fisher. Gajeske, SECOR and ISCO supplied fittings and accessories.

The job required more than a dozen fusion machines supplied by Gajeske, a distributor of McElroy equipment, with help from SECOR. Gajeske fused pipe on two project phases — 24 miles of 30-inch DR 11 and 30 miles of 36-inch DR 11 — under general contractors Culberson Construction Inc. (CCI) and Boyd & Company.

Each operator averaged 7 to 8 fusions a day on the 36-inch pipe (400 feet per day) and 8 to 9 fusions a day on the 30-inch pipe (450 feet per day), which doubled footage goals. As of August 2017, Gajeske had fused about 80 miles of pipe.

Gajeske brought in fusion operators with at least two years’ experience and required recertification through McElroy University. Previous fusion histories were vetted and operators had to make test welds that passed side bend tests. More than 30 people qualified to be fusion inspectors.


One technician was assigned to each machine and the sub-contractor, general contractor and owner visually inspected the welds. The McElroy DataLogger® recorded all fusion processes and reports were uploaded to the Vault™, a secure online server where data is analyzed to ensure compliance with ASTM F2620 and API 15LE.

The Vault provided everything they needed to know about each weld, complete with photos and its exact location after burial.

“We wouldn’t do the job if it wasn’t going to be 100 percent quality. We hold our guys to a higher standard than anybody else,” said Chad Abatie, SW Regional Manager, Gajeske.


The completed system will consist of 80 miles of mainline pipe and 520 miles of lateral lines. The pipe was strung out, stick by stick, and the McElroy TracStar® 900 machine, which operates on a self-propelled track system, traveled from joint to joint. Once technicians fused up to the tie end location, they were on target without overlaps or gaps in piping.

“There’s no way to get these kind of footages in this amount of time without utilizing that machine,” Abatie said.


Area leaders have touted the distribution system’s future benefits: maximizes resources, optimizes recycling efforts, conserves freshwater, increases conservation efforts, updates city infrastructure, creates jobs and reduces water trucking on public roadways.

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