An oilfield services company’s activities at its operations base in Ecuador have expanded in recent years, generating increasing volumes of aqueous fluid mixed with materials such as grease, oil, hydrocarbons and suspended solids. This aqueous fluid was being treated off-site, incurring increasing transport and treatment requirements.

An analysis was performed to determine the potential benefits and operational requirements of a dedicated on-site industrial water treatment plant. Objectives included reducing the need for transport services, effectively managing maintenance of grease traps, reducing treatment costs, and meeting Ecuadorian and provincial regulatory requirements.

A new water treatment plant was built, providing a process that comprised the separation of fats and oils, followed by dissolved air flotation (DAF), then filtering through an activated carbon filter and a nutshell and rice filter. As a result of the new treatment plant, overall expenditure for industrial water treatment at the base decreased significantly. In 2010, 581,000 liters of industrial water required transporting for treatment off-site. In 2012, despite an increase in the level of field operations, only 145,000 liters of industrial water effluent required transporting for further treatment: a 75% reduction.

The plant has the ability to treat up to one cubic meter per hour, but is currently working at 50% of its capacity at 5,500 liters per working day. This gives sustainability to the project, as the plant has capacity to accommodate increases in industrial water treatment requirements at the base and/or support water treatment for some of the company’s other bases in the area.

The water treatment operations comply with the Ecuadorian legislation and the bylaws where the operations are located, as well as the company’s own stringent standards. The treatment process is helping to maintain the integrity of natural water resources because no industrial water is discharged. In addition, treated water is being reused for processes such as washing tools, reducing overall resource usage.

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