Water Management

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Produced water has been an albatross around the neck of operators for a long time. It gets in the way of production by displacing the target oil, and it is filthy, requiring great expense to treat for reuse or disposal. Efforts to solve these challenges have been extensive and continue to evolve. These efforts can have a strong effect on the profitability of an operation.

The authors of paper SPE 187624 claim that the amount of produced water could be in the region of 210 million B/D for every 75 million bbl of oil produced. “Many oil companies could almost be called water companies,” they write. Their paper presents efforts to increase oil production while disposing of produced water by using an inverted electrical submersible pump. These efforts resulted in the disposal of water through the same wellbore, reducing the expense of bringing it to the surface for treatment and of drilling disposal wells.

Disposing of the produced water is only one factor that limits the profitability of operations. Treating the water before reuse or disposal also takes a substantial bite out of profits. Paper SPE 190272 examines an economical effort to desalinate produced water with the use of an electrochemical system with a resilient membrane. The membrane’s durability means that pretreatment of the water can be minimal, saving costs. In instances where polymer flooding is used, the membrane allows the polymer to remain in the desalinated water so that it can be used again. The cost savings from polymer reuse can be significant.

Production facilities also suffer from the massive quantities of water produced. When produced water moves with the stream through a facility, it takes up precious space that could be used more profitably by oil. Paper SPE 187109 takes a look at one of the ways operators are looking to ease this bottlenecking problem. By partially processing the stream to remove water at the production manifold, more room is made for oil through transfer piping and in primary separation and floating storage facilities. The authors claim this has increased oil production by 80% and reduced the in-field transfer volume by 62%.

For more solutions to the persistent problems of produced water, please see the papers listed as recommended additional reading and find more in the OnePetro online library.

This Month's Technical Papers

Inverted-ESP Completion Boosts Oil Rate While Disposing of Produced Water

Advanced Electrochemical System Desalts Produced Water, Saves Polymer

Debottlenecking Through Produced-Water Partial Processing Unlocks Production

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 187119 Employing Effective Water Treatment in West Texas To Mitigate Surface-Equipment Failures by Sarkis Kakadjian, Keane Group, et al.

SPE 190129 Case Studies of an Effective Methodology To Collect Formation Water To Meet Regulatory Requirements for Formation-Water Sampling by V.H. Tran, Chevron, et al.

SPE 188400 Successful Field Application of Bulk Water Removal Debottlenecks Declining Songkhla Marginal Offshore Fields, Extending Economic Life by Manuel De La Sota, CEPSA

Water Management

Adam Wilson, Special Publications Editor

01 December 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 12