In upstream oil and gas operations, saline water is co-produced with the crude oil. On a global spectrum, it is estimated that 3 barrels of water is produced for every barrel of crude oil. As the asset matures, the ratio of water produced vs. crude oil begins to increase. In North America, the ratio is approaching 10:1. Treatment and disposal of produced water is becoming a leading economic factor in the viability assessment of the asset. This is especially so with offshore platforms where produced water must meet and exceed environmental regulations.
The Company has developed, validated and commercialized a technology to remove and recover dispersed crude oil in water 2 microns and larger. The technology is a combination of filtration, coalescence and gravity separation. Solutions for several challenging aspects of produced water properties have been developed and tested, through both field trials (onshore and offshore) and laboratory experimental simulations. Results obtained have been measured with an advanced video imaging particle size-distribution apparatus that measures samples on line and in real time. The results show that the technology has been successful in polishing produced water to oil-inwater concentrations of less than 10 mg/L without the need for chemicals or additional heat.
As oil fields mature, the production of water can significantly increase. The industry perceives this excess produced water as a necessary evil that is often a liability and major cost centre. Offshore platforms are faced with additional challenges. The regulations for oil concentration in produced water discharged overboard commonly vary from 29 to 40 ppm. As the water cut increases, the retention time of separation equipment is reduced to cope with the excess water or oil production drips because the water treatment has now become the bottleneck of the facility.