Produced water is a term used in the oil industry to describe water that is produced as a by-product along with the oil and gas. Oil and gas reservoirs often have water as well as hydrocarbons, sometimes in a zone that lies under the hydrocarbons, and sometimes in the same zone with the oil and gas.
Treatment of produced water is a critical process to ensure re-injected water is cleaned to a designated level to prevent well bore damage and loss of future protection. It is also important to treat produced water to separate oil, water and solids to meet regulatory requirements for discharge as well as protecting downstream processes of the application.
The treatment of produced water will differ depending on the intended disposal method or the re-use purpose. Some common methods of treatment include filtration, cyclonic separation, backwash removal systems, flotation, evaporation, and the success or failure will be specific to the application and process parameters.
There are numerous benefits for companies that need to deal with produced water and these are both from an operational and production perspective as well as meeting defined environmental regulations.
Utilizing effective produced water treatment systems can help reduce costs while increasing production targets. Inadequate produced water treatment where oil and solids carry over can cause contamination issues and increased maintenance & operational costs for downstream processes. Effective produced water treatment can impact the bottom line positively with increased oil recovery and a cost reduction because of excessive filtration and disposal costs.
Not only does insufficient produced water treatment affect your bottom line, it also affects the environment! Due to increasing environmental awareness and regulations, viable treatment of produced water is more important than ever. Companies must find effective ways to handle the produced water treatment process and re-cycle and clean their oil & gas byproduct water as diligently as possible. Non-compliance to environmental regulation requirements will result in hefty fines.
Produced water is considered an industrial waste that is subject to the standards that are defined and mandated by the specific government agencies. Operating companies that utilize effective produced water treatment technologies will not only benefit by avoiding penalties from failure to being compliant but can benefit by reducing their waste, environmental footprint, and gaining a positive image of protecting the environment for future generations.