With the increased volume of produced water handled in the North Sea, the environmental issues are becoming a major concern in the industry, especially with the possibility of further reduction in the oil content allowed in the discharged water, as well as the fact that produced water contains a number of undesirable toxic components. These components are either added in the process of treating the produced fluid or some are already present naturally in the water produced from the reservoirs.

Using most of the alternative options available to handle produced water, a procedure has been established to determine the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) for handling produced water both in mature fields and future developments in general terms. The BPEO takes into consideration the nature of the water, technology limitations, both emission to the atmosphere and discharges into the sea, nature of the discharges, safety concerns and cost, as well as establishing any environmental gains in each case. In this procedure a systematic empirical ranking and indicator tool has been applied to the different aspects of the alternative options considered. In addition, the strengths and limitations of BPEO procedure will be addressed for specific cases offshore, in terms of oil production facilities and gas / condensate production facilities.

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