Abstract

The volume of produced water worldwide from O&G industry is still increasing at a fast rate about 10% per year. The Water to Oil ratios ranged from <1 to up to 40 depending on maturity of the field with the lowest ratios generally observed in the Middle East. In this paper, average volumes of produced water worldwide, per nations and per companies are presented, a case for change in management of produced water is made, Shell's integrated water management strategy, principles and applications are discussed supported by field cases, impact of new technology applications on gross water production is illustrated, value of beneficial use of produced water is demonstrated, overall considerations for effective water management are introduced and the question whether produced water can become an opportunity and a value creation rather than a legacy in any field development is addressed.

Introduction

"There are alternative sources for energy. There are no alternatives to fresh water" Can Produced Water from Oil & Gas activities become an alternative?

Availability of and access to fresh water is one of the world's most pressing challenges that made many believe that this is more serious than the climate change challenge. Half the world's population is living without access to clean water (UN report). The growing demand and competing needs for fresh water resources from aquifers, ground water, rivers and lakes for domestic, agricultural and industrial use, as well as for generating power is leading to serious overexploitation of this non-renewable resource. For example, in the United States, current electricity production from fossil fuels and nuclear energy requires 39% of all freshwater withdrawals. With the global growth in the next 20 years, the total electricity consumption of the water and wastewater sectors will increase by 33% (WBCSD Water Scenarios to 2025, 2005).

The petroleum industry is also impacted by the availability, cost, and quality of water at many points along their 'value chain'. Relatively large volumes of fresh water are used as raw material, as cooling water in power and processing plants, for steam generation or as potable water for domestic use. The refining and petrochemicals facilities are typically the largest users of fresh water (>98%).

On the other hand, this industry also co-produces large volumes of water along with oil and gas production. Recently, the high price of oil and gas has led to a renewed interest in extending the life of existing fields through secondary and tertiary recovery processes (reservoir pressure support, waterfloods and enhanced oil recovery) developing previously uneconomical or marginally economic fields. These activities have required high quality water for injection and or steam generation, which in turn contributed to increasing volumes of produced water to the surface.

Shell as one actor among many in the world of water, has an important role to play in meeting the emerging water challenges by reducing its consumption of the scarce fresh water and by capitalizing on the opportunity of using the large volumes of produced water as an alternative source to fresh or seawater.

In this paper,

  • Average volumes of produced water worldwide, per nations and per companies are presented case for change in management of produced water is made

  • Shell's integrated water management strategy, principles and applications particularly in the Middle East are discussed and supported by field cases

  • Impact of new technology applications on gross water production is illustrated.

  • Value of beneficial use of produced water is demonstrated

  • Over all considerations for effective water management are introduced and

  • The question whether produced water can become an opportunity and a value creation rather than a legacy in any field development is addressed.

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