While drilling activity in the Permian has been cooling in recent months, the business of supplying water to shale producers in the biggest U.S. oil patch — and disposing of the wastewater — continues to attract private equity. Spending on oilfield water management in the U.S. is forecast to average $17 billion per year in 2019 through 2028, according to a recent report from Bluefield Research.
Singapore sovereign-wealth fund GIC has bought a stake in WaterBridge Resources LLC in a deal that values the Houston-based handler of oil-drilling wastewater at nearly $3 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
GIC bought 20% of the company from Five Point Energy, a Texas investment firm that started WaterBridge in 2016 with $200 million of seed money, one of the people said.
The deal—and the lofty valuation for the three-year-old company—highlights the rising importance of businesses that handle the lakes worth of briny, polluted water that energy producers extract along with oil and gas when they hydraulically fracture shale and other rock formations. While big investors have flocked to West Texas for its prolific oil wells, they are now scrambling to manage the cruddy water spewing out of the wells at much greater volumes than crude.