The disposal of produced water from offshore operations in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and other seas worldwide becomes an important and critical issue to the operators concerned, governmental and regional organizations as well as to the environment. In order to establish a better understanding of the produced water management and handling issues and to determine the optimum solution in dealing with increased volume of produced water discharged into the sea, a better approach and tool for evaluating the different options are necessary.

Handling and treating produced water should be dealt with from the source of the problem. Therefore a holistic approach is needed in order to address the problem more effectively.

From operation experience, it has been established, an effective approach in dealing with the produced water problem should include all relevant upstream facilities, including design of the process system and separators, method of operating the plant and the configuration and routing of the different fluid streams. Different parts of the process equipment can play a major part in either improving or reducing the overall efficiency of produced water.

In addition, understanding the characteristic of both the produced fluid chemistry and all other production chemistry aspects of the system will be a critical part in achieving an effective produced water management.

Therefore it is fundamental to the whole process of produced water management to have an integrated approach to deal with the undesirable water. This approach should include from the early stage of development as well as later production, design aspects, selection of equipment and instrumentation as well as a clear understanding of all produced fluid issues.

Although produced water handling issues are crucial to any operation onshore or offshore, this paper will address primarily the offshore aspects of handling produced water. However, the principle of treatment and the design basis of produced water handling facilities should not be any different regardless if it is related to onshore or offshore operation. In many respects the onshore operation will have the benefit of endless space for locating equipment and required facilities, whereas the offshore operation does not have this advantage. However, overall the disposal of produced water onshore can be just as challenging if not more complicated in certain geographical locations.

Using past and current experiences as well as a full understanding of operation limitations of different technologies, the means to troubleshoot and optimize produced water systems and to establish an effective management approach for the long term can be established on the understanding of the holistic approach to produced water management offshore.


Produced water is a secondary product that oil and gas producers worldwide have to deal with both onshore and offshore. There are equal challenges if not more complicated in dealing with this secondary product onshore as well as offshore.

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