Large quantities of produced water are generated in oil and gas fields all over the world: the production of one barrel of crude oil generates three barrels of produced water and the water/oil ratio increases drastically over the life of the fields. It is a by-product of petroleum production and needs to be managed efficiently. Produced Water Re-Injection (PWRI) is frequently the selected option over the disposal option for environmental considerations. However due to the combined presence of suspended solids and oil-in-water emulsion, the efficiency of topside filtration and therefore the well injectivity is often problematic. Membrane filtration is considered as a very attractive treatment process that may allow PWRI even in difficult reservoirs without loss of injectivity.

An industrial-scale water treatment pilot has been installed in an oil terminal to test the performance of ceramic ultrafiltration membranes.

The purposes of the tests were to evaluate the performance of various types of membranes in terms of material, pore size and geometry, the impact of chemical additives and to establish effective cleaning procedures. Nine months of tests allowed TOTAL and VEOLIA Water to determine the parameters required for the design of an industrial full field ceramic ultrafiltration membrane unit.

The ultrafiltered produced water was also used to feed a dedicated core pilot to test the injectivity of this treated water into different types of reservoir rocks.

This paper presents the results of these two pilots; it provides new information for the Exploration and Production (E&P) industry on the key parameters to design a ceramic ultrafiltration membrane system for produced water, the main operational constraints and the sustainability of the injectivity.


To increase the recovery rate of oil reserves, water injection is usually used during oil production. If most of the injected water comes from sea water treatment, Production Water Re-Injection (PWRI) may be implemented. To optimize production water treatment for re-injection and to reduce oil content in rejected effluents, an offshore compatible technology is needed. As a modular, compact and economical solution, ceramic membrane filtration was tested on site (oil field terminal) as a package in a collaboration between Total and VEOLIA Water.

Figure 1 below shows some pictures of the ceramic membrane pilot installed in a container.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.