Produced water (PW) is an undesirable byproduct generated from oil and natural gas production. Due to the large volume produced, managing its disposal is challenging. Generally, PW is used internally for oil and gas operations while different types of means dispose of the remaining volumes. Recently, there has been a need to repurpose the volume of water customarily disposed of for other industries’ applications. This presents a potential opportunity to reduce excessive freshwater usage in oil and gas operations and reduce water depletion in other industries, thus aiding water conservation as one of the goals for sustainable development. While the external uses are the viable and logical solution, there are challenges relating to PW characterization, treatment technology, and economics of such a project. Therefore, the effective treatment technology, utilization, and disposal of PW remain critical issues for the petroleum industry with consideration of the environment, technical aspects, and economics. There must be collaboration among all stakeholders to harness the potential opportunities and merits of external reuse of PW for cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solutions in treatment technology and every other aspect of PW management. This review presents a comprehensive overview of PW management, current practices in the petroleum industry, and opportunities to be used in other sectors. A detailed account of each disposal method and possible external uses are enumerated with associated challenges, and how these can be mitigated.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.