Bassel Daher, Ph.D.

This research investigates the relation between water, energy, and transportation systems, using the growing hydraulic fracturing activity in the Eagle Ford shale play region of southwest Texas in which the local water systems and road infrastructure were not designed for the frequent transport of water into the production site and of produced gas and oil from the site as are often required for hydraulic fracturing. The research: 1) quantifies the interconnections between water, energy, and transportation systems specific to the Eagle Ford shale region; 2) identifies and quantifies the economic, social, and environmental indicators to evaluate scenarios of oil and gas production; and 3) develops a framework for analysis of the economic, societal, and long term sustainability of the sectors and 4) an assessment tool (WET Tool) that estimates several economic indicators: oil and natural gas production, direct and indirect tax revenues, and average wages for each scenario facilitates the holistic assessment of oil and gas production scenarios and their associated trade-offs between them. Additionally, the Tool evaluates these social and environmental indices, (water demand, emissions, water tanker traffic, accidents, road deterioration, and expected average employment times). Scale of production is derived from the price of oil and gas; government revenues from production fluctuations in relation to rise and fall of the oil and gas market prices. While the economic benefits are straightforward, the social costs of shale development (water consumption, carbon emissions, and transportation/infrastructure factors), are difficult to quantify. The tool quantifies and assesses potential scenario outcomes, providing an aid to decision makers in the public and private sectors that allows increased understanding of the implications of each scenario for each sector by summarizing projected outcomes to allow evaluation of the scenarios and comparison of choices and facilitate the essential dialogue between these sectors.

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