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The Role of Water Treatment in the Oil and Gas Industry

Most people, who do no work in the oil and gas industry, do not factor water as part of the product that is obtained from underground reservoirs. The porous rocks allow fluids to pass through them, so water comes into contact with hydrocarbons. According to studies, a barrel of oil can produce 4 to 5 bbl. of water.
Quality of oil and gas
On the surface, the co-products (water, oil, and gas) have to be separated. The first stage is the separation of oil and the other constituents. The water produced in this process might contain some residual oil and dissolved gasses. The water recovered might seem to have no purpose since it can be easily discharged to the environment, away from oil and gas production systems. This might lead to water pollution and can negatively affect the marine life. This type of water contains pollutants which have no use to the primary production system. The presence of advanced technology is capable of reducing the levels of heavy metals and residual hydrocarbons in the discharged water. On shore produced water is treated for disposal (injection), while offshore discharge water is treated and recycled.
Upstream use
According to the magazine World Oil estimate, water injection operation can improve overall recovery of hydrocarbons by about 40%. The water injection is required to prevent gas dissolved in the oil to come out of solution. If this is not done, it could increase the level of the oil/water interface and lead to high cost of water treatment. The discharged water can be used in the water injection operation after it is treated to comply with strict discharge standards. The same water can be used in the boilers, cooling circuits, and oil refining processes. This can reduce the cost of treating and pumping seawater water to serve the same purposes.
Downstream use
The offshore platforms require fresh water for human use, water from workers. The rest of the fresh water is suitable for equipment maintenance. Some of the water can also be used in the cooling systems. Sea water will apply in this case. Certain requirements must be met to reach the quality of cooling water. Treatment helps with obtaining the quality of cooling water required: the removal of larger suspended solids, salts, bacteria, and marine life.
Therefore, this industry consumes and produces a large amount of water due to the extraction process. Water treatment guarantees compliance with strict environmental standards and production continuity. It is now clear that water treatment in the oil and gas industry enables water resources to be preserved. It encourages recycling and reusing of water to meet certain operational needs; reduces the amount of water being drawn from the natural environment.


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