A study has been carried out to estimate the dispersion of produced water which is a major component of the effluent water discharged into the North Sea as a result of oil production. The study involved the application of a dispersion model developed for the northwest European continental shelf seas to Shell/Esso production operations in the northern and central North Sea. The produced water discharged from these operations represents around 22% of the total discharged in the UK sector.

The background to the model used in the calculations is outlined and the validation data are discussed. The results show that the produced water is diluted by factors around one million before the prevailing currents take it out of the North Sea off the Norwegian coast. This dilution and the natural decay effects reduce the concentrations of the environmentally sensitive components in the produced water to less than 1 ppb.

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