Produced-Water-Treatment Systems: Comparison of North Sea and Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
In general, water-treatment systems in the North Sea differ from those in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The two most apparent differences are the extensive use of hydrocyclones in the North Sea, and the use of large, multistage horizontal flotation units in the deepwater GOM. Deepwater-GOM platforms use hydrocyclones, but not nearly to the extent that they are used in typical North Sea platforms. Typically in the North Sea, if flotation is used at all, it is a vertical compact unit. The objective of this paper is to provide an understanding of the reasons for these differences.
In this paper, field data and modeling results are presented to explain these differences. The models accurately correlate the measured drop size and oil-in-water concentration observed in the two regions. In addition, the modeling tools are used to answer hypo- thetical “what if” questions. This allows isolation of individual variables such as fluid temperature, shear, separator residence time, and fluid density. Thus, the modeling provides a detailed understanding of the relative importance of these variables. It also provides a direct comparison of the performance of North Sea vs. GOM process configurations.
While the qualitative conclusions are well-known (i.e., deepwater separation systems are designed to minimize weight and space), the detailed understanding provided here provides insight into the design of water-treatment systems in general. It also emphasizes, in a quantitative way, the importance of carrying out effective water treatment early in the process and the necessary use of large end-of-pipe equipment when this is not possible.
Case Studies in Produced Water Treatment
Three papers selected from 2018 SPE ATCE look at the challenges and approaches to the treatment of increasing volumes of produced water.
Fit-for-Purpose Water Treatment in Permian Shale
Sourcing water for hydraulic fracturing, and disposing of produced water, are constraints and significant cost items in the Permian Basin. Some of the produced water can be treated and reused by using a water life cycle approach..
Testing of Two-Stage Biofiltration Unit for Mitigation of VOC Emissions
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in crude oil can be released to the atmosphere from storage tanks, waste waters, and equipment leaks. A pilot-scale sequential biotrickling/biofiltration unit was designed and tested for removal of VOCs from a wastewater sump.
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