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Prepared by: J. Daniel Arthur, P.E. and Bruce G. Langhus, Ph.D. June 2008. Emerging National Produced Water Issues. Prepared for: U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory. Presentation Outline. Why Produced Water? Issues Barriers Summary

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Prepared by j daniel arthur p e and bruce g langhus ph d june 2008

Prepared by:

J. Daniel Arthur, P.E. and Bruce G. Langhus, Ph.D.

June 2008

Emerging National Produced Water Issues

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Energy

Office of Fossil Energy

National Energy Technology Laboratory

Presentation outline
Presentation Outline

Why Produced Water?




Current and Emerging Issues of Significance

PW Treatment

Implementation Issues

Management and Sustainability

DOE Sponsored CBNG Field Tour of Chinese Contingency by ALL Consulting

San Juan Basin (Colorado)

Realities of produced water
Realities of Produced Water

U.S. on-shore O&G - over 18 billion bbls/yr.

756 billion gallons - 2,320,000 acre-feet

Enough to supply 4.5 million families for a year

PW lifting and disposal is the single biggest operating cost for U.S. on-shore operators – causes premature abandonment of marginal producers

Produced water permits are limiting the pace of development for coal bed methane and gas shales

Environmental effects demand technology solutions for production to continue in a growing number of areas

Why does pw matter
Why Does PW Matter?

Water production in the US and worldwide is surging in production rates along with oil production rates

Global warming phenomenon is creating extreme weather patterns, including severe droughts in many areas

Produced water, although often poor in quality, offers a drought resistant source of groundwater that must otherwise be disposed of – generally via injection or discharge

In the 1930s, severe drought caused massive dust storms and charged an event that changed the way of life in the mid-continent (the DUST BOWL)

Emerging considerations
Emerging Considerations

Regional droughts

Arid and semi-arid regions

Conflicts over municipal vs. industrial use

Major aquifers drying up

Aquifer/Underground Storage

Climate change?

Water a growing concern
Water: A growing Concern

Issues such as Global Warming, Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Alternative Energy Development, etc. have become household discussion points

In the US today, as has been the case throughout history, severe droughts have plagued many areas

Lack of water can change our landscape, cause exodus from an area, and impede industrial development

Bureau of reclamation
Bureau of Reclamation

Access to adequate supplies of fresh water is becoming an increasingly critical issue in many parts of the world. In arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern U.S., diminishing water supplies and extended periods of drought have generated an interest in non-traditional water resources, and the development of new technologies to exploit them. New Mexico has limited supplies of fresh water, but very large reserves of saline groundwater. As conventional water supplies become locally depleted, desalinated groundwater may become an important alternative source of fresh water for many communities. (ref: New Mexico Brackish Groundwater Assessment Workshop)

Barriers to energy development
Barriers to Energy Development

Management of produced water is becoming a more sensitive issue both onshore and offshore

Managing produced water can be challenging, costly, and potentially create a roadblock to oil & gas development

Wasting and excessive depletion of water resources will no longer be an issue that can simply be ignored

Required sustainable management of produced water continues to develop

Each platform also discharges hundreds of thousands of gallons of produced water every day, according to the MMS. Produced water typically contains benzene, arsenic, lead, naphthalene, zinc and toluene, and can contain radioactive pollutants. All major field research programs on produced water have detected petroleum hydrocarbons, toxic metals and radium in the water column down-current from the discharge.

Source: NRDC

Surging water production
Surging Water Production

Conventional Oil & Gas

Aging oil fields

Dewatering plays


Powder River Basin

San Juan Basin

Illinois Basin

Green River Basin

Oil Shales

Tight Sand Plays

Developing Unconventional plays

Shale Gas










An Atrium Shale outcrop at the Paxton Quarry in northern Michigan

Courtesy: Gas Research Institute

Water statistical tracking
Water Statistical Tracking

Tracking water production, disposal and use statistics varies significantly by state – with minimal data tracked in many states

Tracking produced water quality data varies greatly, with many historical statistics based on estimates

Disposition of produced water usage is not consistently tracked and although tracking water statistical information is required on federal lands, reported data is not consistently managed or analyzed

Expansion of data systems is critical to moving sustainable produced water management forward

Why produced water summary
Why Produced Water?Summary

Costs of PW management cause pre-mature abandonment and make some planned projects uneconomic

Produced Water issues are limiting domestic production

Protecting the environment is essential for both the public and industry

Produced water is a tremendous potential asset in semi-arid or drought stricken regions

DOE has the opportunity to turn this waste stream into a resource

Treating produced water
Treating Produced Water

Many existing water treatment technologies have not been fully customized and/or optimized for use by the energy industry

Variations in water quality and production volumes/duration (often representing considerable variations!)

Size, motion resistance, explosion resistant, etc.

Easily scalable, environmentally elegant, remote use, customizable to conditions (e.g., power, chemicals, etc.)

Power demands lead to climate change concerns and add to costs

What is pw treatment
What is PW Treatment?

General Types of Treatment

De-Oiling (e.g., platform discharge)

De-Sanding (e.g., prior to re-injection)

Pollutant Reduction/Removal (including temperature stabilization) (e.g., for beneficial use)

Ion Exchange Produced Water Treatment System (Montana)

Design considerations
Design Considerations

Influent water quality characterization

Produced Water characteristics: WSOs, Solids, Temperature

Produced Oil properties (API gravity, Oil-in-water droplet size distribution)

Temporal Variability / Dynamic (hourly & over life of facility)

Produced water flow rate

Oil-in-water concentration

Solids concentration and particle size in produced water

Effluent water quality treatment specifications

Overboard discharge

Environmental Protection

Discharge Limitations (Oil-in-Water, Toxicity, etc.)

Produced Water Re-Injection (PWRI)

Equipment Operability (pumps, flow lines, screens)

Sustainable Injectivity (formation plugging)

Beneficial Uses/CO2 Sequestration

Pwt technology review
PWT Technology Review

De-Sanding / Solids Filtration

Gravity separation

De-Sanding (Solid/Liquid) Hydrocyclones

Media filtration (sand filter / dual media filter / deep bed filter)

Physical barrier (cartridge / sock)

Membrane Separation (MF)



Gravity separation

Coalescence enhanced gravity separation

De-Oiling (Liquid/Liquid) Hydrocyclones

Gas Flotation


Absorption (Organoclay, etc.)

Walnut Shell Media Filtration

Membrane Separation (ceramic, vibrating)

Pwt technology review1
PWT Technology Review

Polishing - soluble pollutant removal

Absorption (Activated Carbon, Organoclay, etc.)

Aeration & sedimentation (for iron removal)

Partitioning Manipulation (enticing soluble pollutants into oil phase prior to De-Oiling)

Solvent Extraction

Biological treatment (membrane bio-reactor, fixed film, etc.)


Membrane Separation (UF & NF)

Polishing - salinity reduction

Membrane Separation (RO)

Ion Exchange

Electrodialysis (ED)

Evaporation (Freeze/Thaw, ponds, etc.)

Thermal distillation


Polishing - salinity reduction & soluble pollutant removal

Membrane Separation (RO)

Constructed Wetlands

Actual pw treatment
Actual PW Treatment

A single Water Treatment Technology is usually not a complete solution

Often, treatment in stages is necessary

Often, pre-treatment is necessary to protect and enable downstream processes

Real systems have variations in flow rate, water quality, and ancillary env. issues

Real systems are subject to abuse, neglect and operating errors

Often, treatment processes will concentrate pollutants into a smaller volume of water (often 5% - 35%), which will have highly concentrated pollutants, and will still require disposal or management. For Example:

1,000 bbl PW

400 bbl waste



600 bbl finish Wtr

Water treatment challenges
Water Treatment Challenges

Minimizing concentrated waste stream associated with desalination

Capturing gas entrained in water produced

Minimizing power consumption and chemical requirements

Customizing technologies for off-shore and remote onshore applications

Tools to properly choose water management and treatment alternatives (including economics and regulatory requirements)

Innumerable variations can make this process extremely challenging!

And more...

Potential water resource in arid regions
Potential Water Resource in Arid Regions

Local water supply to ranchers and farmers (Northern PRB)

Community water supply as drinking water or gray water (Gillette, WY)

Regional water supply to augment river flow (North Platte River)

Produced water and energy production
Produced Water and Energy Production

Produced water as cooling water at coal-fired plants

Produced water as dust control at coal mines

Produced water as cooling water for nuclear plants

Produced water as pumped water energy storage at wind farms and PV projects

Produced water and energy production cont d

Produced water as growth medium for algal biodiesel and cellulosic biomass (CYCLO-1 algae grew by 2.8 to 3.0 doublings per day in 15,000 to 30,000 mg/L water; DOE, 1998)

Recovery of waste heat from produced water stream prior to disposal (Co-Produced Geothermal)

Produced Water and Energy Production, Cont’d

Produced water and global gcc
Produced Water and Global GCC cellulosic biomass

Coordination of water withdrawal from unconventional gas reservoirs with disposal of CO2

Produced water disposal into deep reservoirs in conjunction with CO2 disposal and sequestration

Use to enhance wildlife habitat and facilitate terrestrial CO2 Sequestration

First RBDMS well coverage map of Arkansas (ALL/DOE/AOGCC)

Produced water and other environmental issues
Produced Water and Other Environmental Issues cellulosic biomass

Detoxifying produced water prior to offshore discharge

Disposal of treatment brine

Reducing volumes of water produced

Water shut-off, downhole separation, etc.

Ownership of produced water

Ownership of pore-space for disposal and migration of injected wastewater

Numerous wildlife and GCC issues (onshore and offshore)

Research needs
Research Needs cellulosic biomass

Identification of barriers and delineation of significance and future needs and applications of produced water

Implications of produced water management to green house gases

Planning and interaction between coal mines and coal bed methane production and associated management of coal seam waters

Water treatment and beneficial uses of produced water

Geospatial tools and techniques that can be used to aid in identification and planning for water management

Tools to facilitate assessing water management alternatives on a geospatial basis given local or regional criteria and economics

Environmental risk analysis and human health risk analysis methods and standards to aid in evaluating risks and environmental impacts

Training, technology transfer, technology development, identification and understanding of needs... name a few