Volume: 1 | Issue: 3

Global Workshop Series Addresses Water Handling Issues

Water handling is becoming increasingly important as a technical and economic tool for improved oil recovery and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects. For example, one of the operators in the Canadian bitumen-producing region will spend USD 200 million on water treating for a project that will deliver 60,000 BOPD. This is a significant expenditure on water treating equipment for a modest production target. Petroleum Development Oman is developing polymer and steamflood EOR projects in which water treating is 20% to 30% of total capital expenditure. Also, water handling issues are important in developing tight gas.

Water handling is a key issue faced by operators in all geographic regions and at all phases of the production life cycle. Specific challenges depend on the production composition, the regulatory environment, and the production method. Learning from others in the industry can provide essential insight and data to help improve project delivery and operability.

To facilitate the sharing of water treating experience, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) has launched its Global Integrated Workshop Series. It brings workshops to areas where there are distinct water handling challenges. The first workshop, the SPE/European Desalination Society Joint Workshop on “Desalination in the Oil and Gas Industry,” was held in Rome in March.

Top industry technical and project leaders organize and participate in the 2-day workshops, with a 50/50 split of presentations and open discussions. Each workshop comprises four to eight sessions. The session chairpersons, who are industry experts, lead the discussions and ensure that important topics and questions are addressed.

Volunteers will be recruited to help write a detailed scribe report for each workshop. The chairpersons will also provide highlights of the discussions in a summary. Each workshop will begin with a concise review of previous workshops in the series and end with the presentation of ideas, issues, challenges, and questions for the next workshop.

To support the continued sharing of information, SPE will establish an online community to which workshop participants are invited to register and join. The community shall provide presentation materials, scribe reports, participants’ contributions, and other contents from the workshops. Industry professionals will collaborate with SPE staff to ensure the technical accuracy of the scribe report. Each posted report will build on the reports that precede it, thereby encouraging further development and refinement of ideas.

The workshop held in Rome introduced oil and gas projects involving desalination and discussed the fundamentals of scaling and fouling with application to thermal and membrane desalination. New chemical and mechanical technologies for monitoring water quality and for mitigating fouling and scaling were presented. The session on design of desalination systems for offshore installation covered ways to reduce capital cost, weight, and space. Real-world operating experiences were presented from installations around the world.

The series workshop, “Produced Water Handling,” to be held on 27–28 June in Palos Verdes, California, will include sessions on the treatment of produced water for the following:

  • Waterflooding and subsurface disposal
  • Steam generation
  • Surface discharge (permitting, technologies, and case studies)

Sessions will address the identification, monitoring, and mitigation of under-deposit corrosion, including microbially influenced corrosion, and the control of iron sulfide scale in produced water handling and injection systems.

The series workshop, “Produced Water Handling,” to be held on 5–7 November in Muscat, Oman, will address polymer flooding, steamflooding, and the large quantities of produced water from mature fields in which the average water cut is almost 90%.

Additional topics and locations are being considered for the Global Integrated Workshop Series through 2016.


John Walsh is SPE Technical Director for Projects, Facilities, and Construction, and a chemical process engineer at Shell. He can be reached at John.M.Walsh@shell.com.


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