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Introduction to produced water treatment

Nature Technology Solution

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS .......................................................................................................2 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................3 1.1 THE ORIGIN OF P RODUCED WATER .................................................................................4 1.2 THE PRODUCED WATER COMPOSITION ............................................................................4 1.3 PRODUCED WATER IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT ........................................................5 1.4 PRODUCED WATER MANAGEMENT AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS .........................6 2 CONVENTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR WATER TREATMENT ........................7 2.1 GRAVITY BASED SEPARATION - FLOTATION....................................................................7 2.3 SEPARATION TECHNIQUES BASED ON FILTRATION ..........................................................8 2.2 CYCLONIC S EPARATION METHODS ..................................................................................8 2.4 NEW CHALLENGES IN HANDLING PRODUCED WATER .....................................................9 3 PRODUCED WATER MANAGEMENT MINIMIZING PRODUCTION ................9 3.1 SUBSEA SEPARATION .......................................................................................................9 3.2 DOWNHOLE TECHNOLOGY .............................................................................................10 3.3 WATER SHUT-OFF METHODS ........................................................................................11 3.4 SIDETRACKING...............................................................................................................11 4 RECENT PRODUCED WATER TREATMENT DEVELOPMENTS ........................11 4.1 SEPARATION BY FILTRATION .........................................................................................12 4.2 WATER TREATMENT BY EXTRACTION ...........................................................................12 4.3 ENHANCED OIL SEPARATION BY M EANS OF COALESCENCE ..........................................12 4.4 METHODS BASED ON ADSORPTION ................................................................................13 5 THE NATURE TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS.............................................................13 5.1 THE NATURE PROCESS FOR PRODUCED WATER TREATMENT ........................................14 5.2 THE NATURE PROCESS WHY ADVANTAGEOUS? .........................................................14 5.3 NATURE EXPERIENCE WITH PRODUCED WATER ............................................................15

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Introduction to produced water treatment

Nature Technology Solution

1 INTRODUCTION

Large quantities of water are produced along with hydrocarbons in oil and gas fields all over the world. Water production quantities continue to increase as the oil and gas fields reach maturity. Produced water comes as a bi-product of petroleum production and requires to be managed efficiently. A great deal of scientific research has been carried out to determine the consequences of long-term exposure of produced water on the environment. Some of this research has given alarming results. It is reported that some of the toxic components in produced water may cause irreversible damage to the surrounding environment. Because of this potential risk very considerable efforts are being expended by the oil companies operating in the NorthEast Atlantic into developing new techniques to better manage produced water. Remaining oil in treated and discharged produced water is the principal source for hydrocarbon discharges from the petroleum sector in the North East Atlantic. The produced water and hydrocarbon production profile for a typical oilfield is illustrated in Figure 1.

Production Profile for a Typical Oil Field


60000 Production volume [m3] 50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 Oil field operating time [yr] 19

Water prod

Oil prod

Figure 1 - Typical production profile for an oilfield in the North East Atlantic

The figure demonstrates the significant change in the water/oil ratio when the oilfield reach maturity, and water by far becomes the biggest fraction of the production.

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1.1 The Origin of Produced Water

Water is very often found together with petroleum in the reservoirs where the water, as a consequence of higher density than oil, lays in vast layers below the hydrocarbons in the porous reservoir media. This water, which occurs naturally in the reservoir, is commonly known as formation water. After oil and gas production has been occurring for a time, the formation water will reach the production wells and water production will initiate. The well water-cuts will normally increase throughout the whole oil and gas field lifetime, such that when the oil production from the field is shut down, the oil content can be as low as a couple of percent with ninety eight percent water. To maintain the hydraulic pressure in the petroleum reservoir, which is reduced as soon as production is started, seawater is commonly pumped into the reservoir water layer below the hydrocarbons (Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Re-injection of separated water from an offshore installation (Ill: Courtesy of BJ Services )

This pressure maintenance due to water injection causes high extensions in recoverable hydrocarbons but simultaneously contributes to increased water production.

1.2 The Produced Water Composition

The compositions of formation water originally in place vary significantly in characteristics between the different reservoirs. As field production is initiated, produced water composition

Introduction to produced water treatment

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from the production wells may be continuously transformed due to injection of seawater, reinjection of produced water, reservoir stimulation, bacterial activity, introduction of production chemicals and more. Produced water is basically a mixture of formation water and injected water but also contains smaller quantities of:

o o o o o o

Dissolved organics (included hydrocarbons) Traces of heavy metals Dissolved minerals Suspended oil (non-polar) Solids (sand, silt) Production chemicals

Dissolved hydrocarbons are found naturally in formation water and can be both toxic and bio-accumulative. Such water-soluble components, which in produced water are mainly BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and alkylphenols, are together with heavy metals considered the most harmful contaminants in produced water.

1.3 Produced Water Impact on the Environment

The most common practice in use in the North East Atlantic for management of produced water is treatment in gravity based separation equipment and discharge to sea. For a long time the only governmental regulation for produced water discharges in this petroleum sector has been concerning concentration of non-polar oil in water (OIW). Little attention has been given to dissolved organics. There is now wide agreement within the petroleum industry, governments and scientists that focus should now be put on dissolved organic components, heavy metals and production

Introduction to produced water treatment

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chemicals. The oil in water content shall be as low as possible and the industry shall make use of best available technology (BAT). Figure 3 presents history and forecast for the water production on the Norwegian continental shelf (Norwegian Petroleum Department).

Figure 3 Forecast of water production on the Norwegian continental shelf (Ill: Courtesy of NPD)

The quantity of produced water in Figure 3 that is not discharged to sea is re-injected into the reservoir or to another formation suitable for disposal. The long-term effects of such contaminants on the environment are not fully documented and understood. Some research programmes are completed and several new studies are underway to map possible consequences for living organisms. Dilution aspects and movement of species in the oceans makes definite conclusions hard to make. There are so many variable that the modelling is extremely complex. Results from recent research show however that fish exposed to alkyl phenols have disturbances in both organs and fertility. These results are serious and have triggered further investigations.

1.4 Produced Water Management and International Agreements

A common legislation for produced water discharges to sea from offshore installations has been 40 mg/l (ppm) OIW. The Oslo Paris Convention (OSPAR) has agreed that the

Introduction to produced water treatment

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maximum discharge limit is reduced to 30 ppm OIW for the petroleum companies operating in the North-East Atlantic and that the overall oil discharges in produced water are reduced by 15% from 1999 levels. In Norway, the oil operators have agreed to implement a policy of zero environmental harmful discharges within 2005. There shall be no harmful discharges from any new installation, and existing installations shall continuously work against a practically achievable zero environmental discharge. In Norway the Pollution Control Authority (SFT) together with The Norwegian Oil Industries Associations (OLF) have developed a produced water management tool, the Environmental Impact Factor (EIF), to meet the zero-discharge strategy. The EIF is a model for optimising the activities taken to reduce the most harmful components in produced water for each offshore installation. Contrary to the existing OIW legislation in place today, the EIF considers all the contaminants in the produced water.

2 CONVENTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR WATER TREATMENT

During petroleum production, vast volumes of liquids have to be managed each day. Deferred production causes high economical losses and therefore continuous operations is always strived for. The capacity, reliability and performance of the produced water management system is often critical for continuous oil production particularly in mature oil field where the water production can greatly exceed the oil production. The water production system needs to be designed to receive continuously increasing quantities of water as oil production continues.

2.1 Gravity Based Separation - Flotation

Produced water treatment has traditionally taken place in gravity based equipment, where the difference in the density of the two liquids to be separated is utilized. Such separation is commonly performed in huge horizontal tanks at different pressures. Flotation of the lighter components (oil) can be enhanced by means of finely distributed gas bubbles going out of

Introduction to produced water treatment

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solution (pressure reduction) and parallel plate packages installed diagonally in the separation vessel.

2.3 Separation Techniques Based on Filtration

A well known technique for separating non soluble components is by filtration. Several principles for handling produced water have been considered including microfiltration membranes and media filters. Such treatment technologies are potentially advantageous because of very good separation degrees can be achieved. However microfiltrations has found very limited practical application because of cost and poor operability, very high energy consumption and degradation of the filters elements with use.

2.2 Cyclonic Separation Methods

The continuous demand for higher treatment capacity in very limited space has resulted in improved treatment methods. The most commonly used technology in offshore production since around 1990 is the static hydro cyclone that utilizes available pressure for enhanced speed in gravity separation. The advantages for this equipment type are high reliability (no moving parts), low maintenance, requires very little space, gives good separation effect and high capacity. The figure to the right [Ill: Deister] shows the water (red) going out in the underflow, while oil (blue) is forced into the middle and led out in the cyclone overflow. Another application for separation of oil and water is high-effect centrifuges. Because the device is motor driven it is often used for lowpressure water streams. This kind of equipment has high energy and higher maintenance requirements.

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2.4 New Challenges in Handling Produced Water

Gravity based separation techniques have together with static hydro cyclones been the most extensive method for treating produced water. Other types of equipment have also been utilized, mostly in special cases with difficult operating treatment characteristics or small volumes, though to a less extent. Even if produced water systems more or less have functioned as intended with respect to the design specifications, the future has brought new considerations regarding what is sufficient treatment.

A good alternative for disposal of produced water would be to send it back into the reservoir where it came from as part of the pressure support, or to another suitable formation. Unfortunately this requires extensive treatment prior to re- injection and due to high costs it is an economically viable alternative mainly for fields with large water production. Reinjection could also cause degradation of the reservoir production quality and productivity.

3 PRODUCED WATER MANAGEMENT MINIMIZING PRODUCTION

Based on the serious uncertainties connected to the long-term environmental effects from produced water discharges and in order to be preventive of possible environmental damage legislation is now being tightened. On the Norwegian continental shelf in the North-East Atlantic, the government and the oil companies have agreed to zero harmful discharge in produced water by the end of 2005. The petroleum industries operating in the area are investigating several ways of meeting the new requirements.

3.1 Subsea Separation

In order to reduce the necessary processing capacity in the petroleum treatment plant, it could be advantageous to separate as much as possible of the water fraction from the well stream at an early point in production sequence. By placing first stage water/oil separation

Introduction to produced water treatment

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process equipment on the sea bottom it will not be necessary to transport all the water to the platform processing facility. The Platform facility is greatly simplified with significant weight reduction. The water separated at the seabed can be injected into a shallower well formation. Figure 4 presents a graphic illustration of the Troll Pilot subsea installation in the Norwegian continental shelf.

Figure 4 - The Troll pilot subsea unit (Courtesy of Norsk Hydro (Ill: Arctic))

3.2 Downhole Technology

A further step in reducing the water-cut from the production stream is to locate oil/water separation process equipment down in the production wells. This technique has been investigated extensively the last years. The produced water is separated from the oil and gas. It is then pressurised by downhole hydraulic pumps and re- injected into the reservoir. The technology is still only in pilot design. It is still very expensive. The complexity increases with reservoir depth. Vertical Downhole Oil/Water Separation (DOWS) systems have been used to some extent world wide (< 40) in the last six years. A new more complex horizontal separation system is under pilot testing pilot testing in Norway.

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3.3 Water Shut-Off Methods

In order to reduce the water flow to the well production zones, there are two traditional methods utilized. During mechanical shut-off, cement or mechanical devices blocks the water pathway by plugging the perforated production section. The chemical shut-off includes injection of polymers into the reservoir that increases the water viscosity, forms a stable gel and thereby restricts the water flow ability. 3.4 Sidetracking

An increase in water production for example as a consequence of water break-through in the production zone could be stopped by pulling the well internals, closing down the perforated zone (mechanical shut-down) and drilling to a new section. Figure 5 illustrates several sidetrack wells drilled off from the old original.

Figure 5 - Illustration of sidetrack wells (Ill: Courtesy BP Exploration Inc. )

4 RECENT PRODUCED WATER TREATMENT DEVELOPMENTS

As there is still no economically practically method for disposal of all the produced water via re-injection or various recycle methods, a range of innovative wastewater technologies have been developed or are under development. The different technologies all have their operating

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characteristics that make them suitable for only certain produced waters or operating characteristics. There is a major focus on new technique to remove dissolved components from produced water.

4.1 Separation by Filtration

Utilization of membranes has been considered for treatment of oily wastewater to reduce dissolved components. The new systems include the use of nano filtration membranes. However, although the filtration method has very good separation effect, the high costs and complexity of these treatment techniques means that applications are only experimental.

4.2 Water Treatment by Extraction

Another technology that has been widely tested on both pilot and full scale on the Norwegian continental shelf is rooted in the solvent properties of supercritical liquids (CTour). The process utilizes liquid condensate (NGL) from the gas scrubbers and injects it into the produced water upstream of the hydro cyclones. The dispersed and dissolved hydrocarbons, which have higher solubility in the condensate, go into the condensate phase and are separated in the hydro cyclones. This equipment has undergone extensive pilot testing and its field tests are imminent. The process is very sensitive to the available condensate quality.

4.3 Enhanced Oil Separation by Means of Coalescence

Several modern produced water treatment methods are based on the coalescing of dispersed oil droplets, often prior to cyclonic separation. The devices are installed upstream of the cyclonic vessels to increase oil droplet diameters which will result in better separation degree in the hydro cyclones. The process of coalescence could be accelerated by different means.

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One method is to install a special fibre media in the pipelining or the hydro cyclone vessels that attracts oil droplets and promotes coalescence into larger aggregates. These systems have no effect on removing dissolved hydrocarbons, but are simple and easily retrofitted. The fibre media is sensitive to fouling and any abrasive elements (sand) in the water. Other processes include combinations of chemical injection (coagulation/flocculation) and mechanical agitation in specially built vessels. Compact flotation units are hybrid cyclone/degassers that could replace standard degasser equipment.

4.4 Methods Based on Adsorption

Adsorption has proven a successful area in maintaining compliance with produced water discharges. Unfortunately most processes involve filters and therefore are restricted in volume or require advanced regeneration processes which could be both energy demanding and expensive. The adsorption techniques include activated carbon filters with regeneration by wet air oxidation and oil-adsorbing media canisters based on resins, polymer and clay technologies. The Nature Technology Solution treatment of produced water is also based on adsorption and will be further described in the following chapter (5).

5 THE NATURE TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS


Nature Technology Solution (Nature) provides state of the art treatment and management of most kinds of contaminated wastewater. Nature is delivering services and equipment for efficient handling of polluted wastewater from onshore, shipping and the offshore industry (Figure 6).

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Figure 6 - The Shell Draugen Platform in the Norwegian Sea (Photo Courtesy of Shell)

Nature offers a range of physical, chemical and biological treatment methods for industrial wastewater.

5.1 The Nature Process for Produced Water Treatment

The Nature process for treatment of produced water is based on addition of patented coagulant/flocculant in existing or partially modified water systems. The agent is injected into the produced water upstream a static mixer or various process equipment (pumps, valves etc.) to provide sufficient in- mixing. The agent separates dispersed and dissolved hydrocarbons and is floated and skimmed off in a flotation vessel downstream the in- mixing point.

5.2 The Nature Process Why Advantageous?

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The Nature process combines coalescence and adsorption and significantly reduces dissolved and dispersed hydrocarbons from produced water to less than 5 ppm. The Nature process utilizes documented non- hazardous agents for professional treatment of oily produced water. Implementation of new process equipment is usually not needed. The Nature technology provides excellent water handling at low capital and operating costs. Rapid processing time promotes small, less heavy and more compact treatment facilities.

5.3 Nature Experience with Produced Water

The Nature technology has achieved good results in separating both polar (dissolved) and non-polar (OIW) hydrocarbons from several produced water types from the Norwegian continental shelf. Produced water from the Shell operated Draugen installation was treated with Nature coagulant in the spring 2002. The OIW concentration was 93 ppm before treatment with Nature coagulant. Three different doses were used during fixed in- mixing and flocculation time of 150 and 120 seconds respectively. Draugen salinity was measured to < 3.4 %. Produced water temperature was 50 C. Figure 7 presents reduction of OIW following treatment with three different doses Nature coagulant CF 200 (dry solid).
Reduction of OiW vs. Dosing of Nature Coagulant (fixed in-mixing time(150 s), fixed flocculation time(120 s))
100
Oil in water [ppm]

93

80 60
OIW

40 20 0 0 ppm 20 ppm 40 ppm 60 ppm


Dosing of Nature coagulant CF-200 (dry solid)

14 9 4

Figure 7 - Reduction of OIW concentration for the Shell Draugen installation

The Nature technology also achieved good results in OIW reduction in produced water from the Statoil Statfjord C installation in the North Sea, winter/spring 2002 (Figure 8).

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Figure 8 - The Statfjord C installation in the North Sea (Photo Courtesy of Statoil)

The results are presented in Figure 9. In- mixing and flocculation time was fixed to 30 seconds each. The produced water temperature and salinity was 80 C and 3,6 % respectively. The OIW concentration in the Statfjord C produced water was 19 ppm before treatment with Nature coagulant. Three different doses of Nature coagulant CF 200 (dry solid) were added to the water.
Reduction in OiW Concentration vs. Dosing (fixed in-mixing and flocculation time, 30 sec. each)
20
Oil in water [ppm]

19

15

11
10
OIW

5
5 0 B.T. 5 ppm 10 ppm

15 ppm

Dosing of coagulant CF-200 (dry solid)

Figure 9 - Reduction of OIW concentration for the Statoil Statfjord C installation

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Nature has also performed tests on produced water from Kuwait to discover the potential of the Nature technology on separation of hydrocarbons. The water samples were collected from the disposal well 501 and the disposal pit. The produced water trials with the samples from Kuwait revealed that the Nature coagulant effectively reduced the hydrocarbon concentration in water from the disposal well 501 (Figure 10). The blind test showed an OIW concentration of 18 ppm.
REDUCTION OF OIL IN WATER CONCENTRATION VS. DOSING OF FLOCCULANT - DISPOSAL WELL 20 18

Oil in water concentration [ppm]

15 10 5 0 BT 20 40 60 80
Dosage of Nature CF - 200 [ppm] 6 3 3 2

Figure 10 - Reduction of OIW concentration from disposal well water (Kuwait)

Four tests were performed on disposal well water at 50 C. In- mixing and flocculation periods were set to 60 and 120 seconds respectively. The water sample from the disposal pit had such low oil in water concentration (2 ppm) that further testing was cancelled. The salinity in the Kuwait produced water was quite high, measured to 10 % salt concentration.

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