Crude Drillers Shifting Water Use to Focus on Cost Savings

Oil drillers are trying to reduce water costs as they try to improve margins for hydraulically fractured wells in shale fields, Amanda Brock, chief executive officer for Water Standard, said at Bloomberg’s Oil & Gas Conference in Houston.

“At first, everyone was running around the country drilling to maintain their leases and they didn’t care what they paid for water,” Brock said to a crowd of about 150. “Now producers are trying to make sure they make money, and they can’t make money when they’re having to pay high water treatment costs.”

Brock spoke in a panel with Emile Trombetti, a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., and Sean McGurk, the global managing principal for critical infrastructure protection and industrial control systems for Verizon Communications Inc.

Energy companies need to educate and train their workforces to insulate them from cyber-attacks, Trombetti said. A company’s computer system could be affected by something as simple as an e-mail from a hacker masquerading as a message from a family member.

“The minute you click on that, you’re infected,” he said.

Companies must go beyond physical processes to protect sensitive information, McGurk said. He said he knew of one company that covered USB ports with epoxy to keep people from saving data to small memory storage devices that could be taken out of the office. Someone got around that by unplugging the keyboard and putting the memory device in that port, he said.

“Years ago security was guards, gates and guns, and it’s not much different in cyber security today,” he said.

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