Page 1


Next Generation Water Treatment and Process Technology for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations

Increasing Process Efficiency: The Next Generation of Water Treatment Solutions Rising to the Challenge of Deep Water The Changing Face of Water in the Offshore Industry The Next Generation of Electrochemical Desalination Technologies Sponsored by

New Technologies for a New Future

Published by Global Business Media



Next Generation Water Treatment and Process Technology for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations

Contents Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

Increasing Process Efficiency: 3 The Next Generation of Water Treatment Solutions Increasing Process Efficiency: The Next Generation of Water Treatment Solutions Rising to the Challenge of Deep Water The Changing Face of Water in the Offshore Industry The Next Generation of Electrochemical

Chris Hall and Matthew Flatley, product managers at Evoqua Water Technologies

Desalination Technologies

New Technologies for a New Future

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: Website: Publisher Kevin Bell Editor Tom Cropper Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

Š 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Blowout Prevention Partnerships Provide Exacting Solutions Marine Growth Prevention Engineered Water Solutions Think Ahead Looking to the Future Contact About Evoqua

Rising to the Challenge of Deep Water


Tom Cropper, Editor

A Challenging Environment A Costly Business Reducing Waste

The Changing Face of Water in the Offshore Industry


Jo Roth, Staff Writer

The Changing Nature of Water in the Offshore Industry Waste Water Cooling and Heating Establishing an Effective System

The Next Generation of Electrochemical Desalination Technologies


James Butler, Staff Writer

Improving on Convention Electrochemical Desalination Electrochlorination Technologies

New Technologies for a New Future


Tom Cropper, Editor

New Opportunities for the Future Cleaner, More Effective Technologies New Technologies

References 15





UCH HAS already been written about the struggles of the offshore oil and gas market. Today they face the difficult task of discovering and extracting oil from some of the most inhospitable areas of the world with a price that remains rooted at around half the level it was just 18 months ago. This has prompted a dramatic adjustment on the part of rig operators as they seek new and more sustainable methods of operation. It’s a challenging task, but the key could lie in the way the industry makes use of water. Water – and the way in which it is used - is vital to offshore oil and gas operations. Billions of tons of waste water are produced every year. It is used across the operation from heating and cooling, to well injection for enhanced oil recovery techniques. All of this water has to be treated and managed. Until now doing so was a difficult, costly and time

Technologies. Their company is at the forefront of electrochemical water treatment technologies which offer a vastly improved method of water treatment for the offshore industry. They explain some of the key developments in the industry as well as showcasing their cutting edge products. Elsewhere in the Report we’ll look more closely at the development of advanced, next generation electrochemical desalination technologies and what the future may bring. This is a rapidly evolving market. The need to develop new environmentally friendly solutions, which are more cost-effective is driving innovation forward rapidly. Tomorrow’s technologies are already at an advanced stage of development which means that keeping up with progress will be no easy matter.

consuming task. In the first article in this Report we hear from Chris Hall and Matthew Flatley, product managers at Evoqua

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.



Increasing Process Efficiency: The Next Generation of Water Treatment Solutions Chris Hall and Matthew Flatley, product managers at Evoqua Water Technologies A look at the latest innovations to help increase process efficiency and reduce downtime for oil and gas operations


NSURING PROCESS efficiency across the oil and gas industry is imperative to reducing downtime and increasing earnings. Equipment failures can cost oil and gas companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, as well as pose a safety risk to crew members and the environment. Essential water treatment is one area operators should not overlook when it comes to process improvement. Through the employment of the right technology, as well as the provision of robust service and maintenance programmes, the industry can reap significant cost, safety and environmental benefits. As the oil and gas industry tackles a number of challenges, including rising operational costs, low oil prices and the need to maintain production levels, ensuring cost efficiencies is key. At the same time, safety remains of paramount importance, both in terms of protecting workers and our natural resources. In recent years, high profile spills have highlighted just how devastating an accident can be, damaging ocean and land environments, a company’s bottom line and its reputation.

Blowout Prevention One area where water treatment is vital for safety, as well as reducing downtime, is in the case of blowout preventers (BOP). Used to seal oil and gas wells to prevent blowouts from uncontrolled pressure and flow, they are critical for operating safely. The hydraulic BOP contains fluids which are essential for the system to function. This fluid must stay clean and provide a minimum level of lubrication to the system’s parts. If the fluid degrades, then the BOP may require more frequent and costly downtime or

could contribute to a failure. The cost of a blowout can amount to billions of dollars from litigation, lost earnings from downtime, environmental fines and reputation loss. Therefore, pure filtered BOP fluid can help prolong the operating life of the BOP hydraulic system, saving on maintenance and reducing expensive, unscheduled downtime. This is increasingly important, as in today’s offshore rigs, BOPs can remain submerged for as long as a year, in extreme conditions where maintenance and downtime costs can be severe. Evoqua’s Rig Water Systems provide two options to address the integrity of the BOP fluid mixture. The first is a makeup water system to remove hardness and particulate and to provide an ultraviolet barrier to help prevent microbiologic intrusions. Second, the Evoqua BOP Fluid Management System continuously recirculates the fluid through particulate filtration and ultraviolet light to help sustain its effectiveness. Ultimately, protecting the integrity of the BOP fluid mixture may reduce downtime, save on operational costs and protect staff and the environment from a potential catastrophic blowout.

Partnerships Provide Exacting Solutions In a recent multi-year, company-wide initiative to raise the bar on safety, efficiency and environmental performance, an energy exploration giant specialising in maritime activity uncovered an opportunity to improve the performance of its BOPs by standardising the level of BOP water treatment across its offshore fleet. Existing treatment equipment had been developed at different times over the years by WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 3


The cost of a blowout can amount to billions of dollars from litigation, lost earnings from downtime, environmental fines and reputation loss


a variety of oil industry subcontractors, and was providing differing levels of treatment and quality. The organisation believed that, by standardising water treatment at a high level of purification and conditioning system-wide, the company could meet more of its BOP performance goals. Furthermore, it would also make it easier and more cost-effective for its multinational staff to operate and maintain the equipment, wherever it may be installed. Based on an established relationship with Evoqua Water Technologies, the company began a dialogue on developing a standardised solution for treating and maintaining the water used to make up BOP fluid. The two companies worked together for a number of months – this included in depth training for both organisations to create a true partnership approach to the requirements. The Evoqua solutions that emerged from this process met two critical needs: the BOP fluid makeup system softens, disinfects and filters incoming water from a variety of sources for BOP fluid makeup; and the BOP fluid recirculation system recirculates and decontaminates BOP 4 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

fluid stored in tanks on board drill rigs. In addition to these two standard products, Evoqua designed a retrofit package that could be installed to bring legacy water treatment systems up to the new, higher standards. Evoqua delivered the first systems in 2013. Thoroughly tested by Evoqua before shipment, they were also field tested and proved effective, with bacterial build-up in BOP storage tanks being virtually eliminated. Further testing showed a measurable improvement in BOP operating life and a reduced need for maintenance. With these results, Evoqua was incorporated into specifications in the company’s global standards for BOP operation worldwide. All of the company’s rigs will eventually be required to meet the new water standard, either through installing new equipment or by retrofitting existing equipment. These systems are currently being installed on rigs all over the world by several large players in the offshore exploration field. Evoqua, has followed up product delivery with support that includes an installation video, training materials and after-sales service worldwide.



Marine Growth Prevention Another opportunity for increasing oil and gas process efficiency and safety is optimising marine growth prevention technology. For seawaterbased processes the cost of biofouling can be substantial, so it is critical that solutions are in place to prevent this. However, through the adoption of innovative technology, operators cannot only prevent biofouling, but can also maximise efficiencies and therefore costs. An example of this technology is Evoqua’s industry standard Chloropac® system, which is part of its Electrocatalytic product family. It is a proven solution – established for over 40 years – that is not only effective and environmentally safe but also energy efficient and reliable. Evoqua’s electrochlorination technology is installed in a number of applications on land and sea. In the oil and gas sector this includes offshore platforms, FPSOs and LNG terminals, refineries and petrochemical plants. Currently, there are more than 2,500 Chloropac® systems installed worldwide, with around 75% of the leading rig operators relying on Evoqua disinfection systems to control biofouling and keep their field assets operating efficiently. One of the problems with biofouling is that seaborne organisms – such as mussels and barnacles – and bacteria can restrict the flow of cooling water to heat exchanger surfaces. This accelerates localised corrosion by restricting oxygen diffusion and causes destructive turbulence at inlet, which can severely shorten the life of affected equipment or result in complete failure. Utilising these technologies can help save oil and gas processors’ lost production time through biofouling.

Chlorination is arguably the best solution for treating biologically fouled seawater. However, manually using and bulk storing chlorine is a safety hazard whether on land or sea. For the same reasons, the handling of large volumes of liquid sodium hypochlorite is also impractical. Chloropac ® systems, through electrolysis of seawater, produce a dilute, safe solution of sodium hypochlorite for direct injection into the water circuit. This advanced electrolyser technology removes the need for handling dangerous chemicals alltogether.

Engineered Water Solutions The offshore industry is noted for using specific standards to enhance the safety, integrity and operational impact of its equipment. Rig owners and operators also have to comply with a number of guidelines from national and international regulators which all have an impact on their operations. Importantly, Evoqua can provide a system engineered to specific project standards, meeting all legislative requirements. With over 40 years’ experience in delivering projects to the offshore market, Evoqua understands the strict regulations and requirements with which the offshore industry needs to comply. Furthermore, there are variations of the Chloropac® system to meet the needs of different operations and environments. These includes low to medium and medium to large capacity water systems, as well as a de-gased version that is ATEX compliant. The BOP systems are also engineered to high industrial standards, which is why they have been the preferred provider for proven blowout prevention fluid management systems by some of the largest rig water players in the industry. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 5


To ensure continued service from water treatment systems, a planned preventative maintenance programme is a valuable addition

If oil prices continue to fall there will be increasing pressure on the supply chain to remain robust to deliver on lifelong projects. It is therefore imperative that offshore operators partner with an organisation that, not only understands their market, but is an expert in its own offering. By collaborating with established suppliers, operators can ensure that they are supported throughout the different phases of their rig, from new build to refurbishment and retrofit.

Think Ahead To benefit from the process efficiency, cost, safety and environmental gains that can be associated with water treatment solutions, it is essential to make the right technology selection for the lifetime of a project. First and foremost, it is important to ensure that all technology purchased is from a trusted source. There are a number of providers on the market but not all will have the experience or complete capabilities necessary to offer the same level of service and support to guarantee peace of mind. As water treatment in the oil and gas sector provides such a vital function, it is critical that it performs to the highest standard. This is where preventative maintenance, with a full service and support offering, is key. If a system fails, then a plant faces unplanned and costly downtime. Worst case scenario would be injury or fatality and a hazardous disaster resulting in billions of dollars of environmental damage. To ensure continued service from water treatment systems, a planned preventative maintenance programme is a valuable addition. Some providers will be able to tailor these to meet the needs of different customers and industry requirements. Importantly, this will give ongoing peace of mind that the system is working, safe and reliable. For example, millions of dollars are lost on planned maintenance and subsequent downtime of blowout prevention systems through the lifetime of a rig. By employing Evoqua’s Rig Water Solutions for blowout prevention fluid management, operators are able to significantly extend their operation time between these scheduled maintenance events which means more uptime and less costs to manage equipment. Importantly, Evoqua offers customers complete compliance assurance. This means that, whatever stage of a system’s lifecycle a customer is facing, they will be fully supported. This extends from product support, preventative maintenance programmes, spare parts supply and servicing, through to operator training. Evoqua’s engineers understand the specific needs and challenges of the oil and


gas sector to ensure optimal and uninterrupted service for customers.

Looking to the Future Technology for water treatment solutions will continue to evolve, as will the oil and gas industry. The endless search for new sources of energy is taking exploration to newer, more challenging environments than ever before. As it does, it heightens the need for safety and efficiency in all of the systems that work together to bring a new well into production. It is important, therefore, for operators to source solutions that perform beyond their core function, be this for blowout or marine growth prevention. With so much on the line, energy leaders will be looking more and more to water science leaders like Evoqua, with their understanding of extreme environments and mission-critical applications, to help them get there. It is only then that the industry will truly benefit from the added value of increasing efficiency of operations and maximising the safety of staff and the environment.

Contact Evoqua Water Technologies LTD, One60 London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1BT Email address: Web address: For more information please contact Natalia Gameson or Zoe Birch at Prova on 01926 776900 or

About Evoqua Evoqua Water Technologies is the global leader in helping municipalities and industrial customers protect and improve the world’s most fundamental natural resource: water. Evoqua has a more than 100-year heritage of innovation and industry firsts, market-leading expertise, and unmatched customer service, where it continues to transform water and wastewater. Its cost-effective and reliable treatment systems and services ensure uninterrupted quantity and quality of water, enable regulatory and environmental compliance, increase efficiency through water reuse, and prepare customers for next-generation demands. Evoqua’s unparalleled portfolio of proven brands, advanced technologies, mobile and emergency water supply solutions and service helps cities across the world provide and discharge clean water, and enable leisure and commercial industry to maximize productivity and profitability. For more information, visit Chloropac is a trademark of Evoqua Water Technologies, its subsidiaries or affiliates, in some countries.


Rising to the Challenge of Deep Water Tom Cropper, Editor How effective water treatment can help the offshore oil and gas industry address its biggest challenges.


T HAS never been more important for oil and gas operators to maximise operational efficiency. A low oil price, combined with the increasing emergence of ultra deep-water and extreme environment oil exploration mean equipment has to operate at maximum efficiency for longer and in increasingly hostile environments. Achieving this goal means addressing every single aspect of the operation. One area which has been overlooked in the past is water treatment. In keeping crucial fluids clean and in optimal condition, effective water treatment can extend the life expectancy of infrastructure, and reduce down time and maintenance. In turn, this ensures safety, improves the reputation of the drilling company and saves money.

A Challenging Environment Modern offshore oil exploration is more ambitious and aggressive than ever. Oil and gas companies are venturing into uncharted areas and tapping oil reserves which would previously have been considered out of reach. This brings them into contact with extreme conditions; in the Gulf of Mexico for example, operators regularly have to power down to avoid hurricanes. In the far East cyclones represent a major threat, while the rough seas, storms and heat off the coast of West Africa contribute to a dangerous environment. All this places immense strain on the equipment and has the potential to shorten operational life significantly.

Moreover, as wells tap areas of increasing depth, equipment needs to operate at deeper levels than ever before. This is bringing them into contact with ultra high pressure and temperature levels which can reach pressures of more than 12000psi more than 330 Fahrenheit1. The pressure on key infrastructure, such as blow out preventers (BOPs), is immense. These seal oil and gas wells and are designed, as the name suggests, to prevent blow outs. They contain a number of fluids which are essential to the continuous smooth running of the BOP. These need to remain clean in order to provide the required lubrication – a deterioration of the fluid can contribute to unplanned downtime or lead to sudden failure of the BOP. Today, operators are demanding that BOPs operate for periods of more than a year. The challenge of maintaining smooth function in such an environment is immense.

A Costly Business All this comes against a backdrop of extreme economic uncertainty for the oil and gas industry. OPEC’s decision not to cut production, and thereby support a struggling oil price in 2014, sparked an industry-wide panic from which it is only just recovering. In the space of 12 months the global oil price more than halved to around $40 per barrel. Since then it has shown some signs of recovery, reaching $60 at times, but nothing like the plus $100 prices the industry had become used to. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 7


In this new environment, technologies are being developed to reduce unnecessary costs. One key area is in water treatment


The price collapse was triggered by the confluence of several factors. First was the increase in US Shale which helped fuel a glut in supply. Second was a sluggish global economy. With growth throughout 2014 failing to meet expectations, predictions for demand were progressively cut throughout the year. In 2015 these problems have continued. China’s struggling economy, and the prospect of a period of relatively low growth, removes an area of potentially enormous demand in the future. Likewise, Brazil, whose booming industry had been expected to contribute to demand, is also seeing its economy stall. This means the offshore industry faces a very different set of challenges from a few years ago. From a situation in which sustainable offshore operation was thought possible at $100 per barrel, a way has had to be found of making it work at just $60. As ever, necessity is the mother of invention and the industry has found numerous operational improvements and efficiency savings. Equally, deep water exploration is a long term prospect, so even in a depressed price environment, the long term economic case for some of the deepest prospects now coming on line remains viable. In this new environment, technologies are being developed to reduce unnecessary costs. One key area is in water treatment. Issues such as biofouling, for example, can cost the industry billions. Seaborne organisms can get into fluids restricting the flow of cooling water to heat exchangers. This can lead to increased corrosion which, in turn, increases the risk of failure and the level of maintenance required. As a result, the industry has been collaborating in developing technologies which can address these issues. By combating biofouling or reducing fluid deterioration in BOPs operators can address


one of their biggest areas of excess cost. In doing so, they can increase the commercial sustainability of their overall operation.

Reducing Waste Herein, though, lays a third challenge – the environment. Regulatory oversight of offshore operations is growing. A combination of increased public and government awareness of the environmental impact of offshore operations, together with high profile accidents such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill, contribute to an increase in the regulatory scrutiny of offshore operations. This has implications for where companies drill and some of the equipment they use. When Shell sought permission to restart exploratory drilling in the Arctic, they had to provide reassurances that safety measures were in place to reduce the risk of spills and that they would clean-up any leak if and when it occurred. Similarly, all equipment operating in the ultra HPHT environments will need to be rated for extreme conditions they are likely to face. Equally, many traditional technologies and components find themselves running afoul of new environmentally friendly regulations. For example, conventional water treatment solutions often contain chlorine and other hazardous chemicals whose use is becoming increasingly restricted. To safeguard the marine environment, new environmentally friendly solutions are required. The challenges in water treatment are multiple and varied. Operators have to satisfy the conflicting demands of extreme environments, increased regulation and slim profit margins. Investment in new solutions will need to be targeted and efficient. Buyers will need a full understanding of what the technology can do and how it can provide a positive return on investment.


The Changing Face of Water in the Offshore Industry Jo Roth, Staff Writer Why disposing of waste water could represent the biggest challenge for the offshore industry over the next 20 years.

T’S OFTEN been considered the weak link in offshore oil production, but the use of water is becoming an increasingly critical element in oil and gas operations. A need to improve the environmental credentials of the industry, a low oil price, the increasing expense of offshore exploration and the need to enhance recovery in existing reserves all put water usage to the forefront. However, the industry has never been very good at managing water on board a rig. That all needs to change, and improved water treatment technologies hold the answer.


approximately 33.6mbpd of waste effluent is produced by the industry. With yields expected to increase from their current levels of 84mbpd to 107mbpd, the issue of produced water is serious2. New official guidelines are also coming into force placing greater emphasis on the safe and environmentally friendly disposal of waste water by offshore drilling rigs. Managing this is extremely costly and time consuming and existing systems are constrained by the limited space on board oil and gas rigs.

The Changing Nature of Water in the Offshore Industry

Cooling and Heating

Around the world, existing oil reserves are reaching the end of their originally designed service life. Even so, the drills keep working. Thanks to improved technology, the oil and gas industry has managed to extend the life of many fields further than their original designers ever intended. One of the most common of these technologies is water injection. By taking seawater and injecting it into the well, operators are able to force heavy oil and other hard to reach deposits to the surface. However, this water needs extensive treatment. Sulphates and other impurities can accelerate corrosion and have a harmful impact on the environment. Before this water can be injected, sulphates have to be either removed or reduced. Many of the technologies used to do this focus on membrane filtration and reverse osmosis to remove impurities. However, these are often costly and ineffective. Improving upon the performance of these systems, as well as their cost is a major priority for the industry.

Waste Water The offshore industry produces a huge amount of waste water. According to a recent study,

Water is used extensively across every part of the platform for cooling and heating. Drawing this from the seawater makes obvious sense from a storage point of view, but this, in turn, comes with its own set of issues – many of which go unaddressed. The growth of sea life (or biofouling) within water used for cooling systems represents a major drain on profits. It can restrict the flow of water to a cooling system, result in increased corrosion and cause disruptive turbulence in inlets. This all leads to continuous rodding out and maintenance of the system. But the real problem comes in the overheating of equipment that a cooling system is meant to protect. This can lead to failure of engines, increased fuel consumption and excessive downtime for repair. All this routinely gets swept up in the minds of operators as simply being part of the regular cost of doing business. But this is not necessarily the case. By treating seawater before it is used, operators can reduce the risk of biofouling and so achieve multiple cost and efficiency advantages throughout the overall operation of the facility. In an environment in which offshore oil needs to cut costs across the operation without harming production performance or WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 9


Before settling on an option, the testing process needs to be understood to ensure that it can replicate its designated performance in the actual conditions it is likely to face


security, this is one of those magic solutions which provides multiple wins – performance gains coupled with efficiency savings.

Establishing an Effective System As water usage becomes an increasingly critical issue across and oil and gas operations, treatment solutions are becoming ever more vital. However, as in any other aspect of the offshore industry, change – when it comes – is slow. Such are the stakes of offshore oil exploration that there is a natural reluctance to address working practices which – up until this point – have been functioning adequately. Change often only comes when there is a need; such as evolving environmental regulations or a falling price point. When establishing a new system, though, each operator needs to take great care to ensure they get it right. The first issue comes in analysing the commercial proposition. One of the biggest advantages of water treatment is that it reduces component failure and so clamps down on operating costs. However, installation of these systems comes with its own upfront costs. Operators will have to make the calculation determining whether the initial cost of a system change is warranted by the incremental savings it will bring. Likewise, there needs to be certainty that it will deliver on what it promises. There are many different types of water treatment technologies available, including physical filtration,


or chemical and biological treatment. Additionally, new methods are coming to market such as electrochemical treatments. Extensive research is being conducted into new technologies and, as these prove themselves commercially, they are breaking into the offshore oil and gas market. All these new products come with impressive claims and from a range of providers. Understanding which of these to trust is far from straightforward. Testing procedures vary from company to company – and some have a vested interest in tailoring the data to project the best possible impression of their product. However, testing performance in safe laboratory conditions will not necessarily always be replicated in the real world. Before settling on an option, the testing process needs to be understood to ensure that it can replicate its designated performance in the actual conditions it is likely to face. Last but not least, this brings us all to the provider. There are numerous operators in this market – some large and well established; others small and new. Working with a trusted partner who can offer a clear illustration of their product’s value and their own expertise will place an operator at a clear advantage. That advantage could be crucial in an increasingly tight and competitive market. With the offshore exploration environment operating on the edge of profitability, those which can gain crucial efficiency savings throughout their operation will find themselves with a key competitive advantage.


The Next Generation of Electrochemical Desalination Technologies James Butler, Staff Writer Electrochemical desalination technologies offer multiple advantages for the offshore oil and gas industry.


OR DECADES the oil and gas industry has produced millions of tonnes of waste water. However, dealing with it has always been expensive, difficult and inefficient. Today, though, the need to reduce the contamination of the surrounding environment, coupled with significant cost pressures, has prompted the industry to look at new ways of treating water. One of the most promising comes in the form of a new generation of electrochemical desalination technologies. As well as offering superior performance, these are able to do the job on a more cost effective basis and with less impact on the environment than conventional technologies.

Improving on Convention The oil and gas industry uses numerous methods to treat water. These include physical filtration, micro-biochemical treatment and oxidation, but many of these have severe limitations. Due to the space constraints on board an oil rig, compact physical and chemical removal methods have generally been preferred. However, this struggles to remove sufficient particles of suspended oil and other contaminants. Equally, the high cost of many of these solutions has limited their use, especially as the oil price environment has become more constrained. Biological removal methods have offered a more cost effective, and in some cases efficient, method of removing contaminants. But increasingly the industry is turning its attention towards electrochemical water treatment technologies as offering superior performance. Frequently, experts are beginning to cite electrochemistry as a possibility. A 2012 report from the Oxford Journal highlighted that,

while its use in areas such as produced water treatment was still in the laboratory stage, it did offer a number of viable alternatives over existing technologies. “High treatment cost, production and discharge of secondary waste, high energy requirement and use of chemicals in some cases are common problems facing these technologies,” states the report. “Electrochemistry on the other hand is a relatively cheap green technology. It does not generate secondary waste nor involve the use of additional chemicals, and offers improved beneficial uses of produced water. It can generate and store energy, remove organics, produce clean water and recover valuable materials from produced water with little or no negative impact on the environment.”

Electrochemical Desalination A series of studies, over the last decade, have examined the possibilities of electrochemical desalination techniques. Salt water is passed through or by a pair of high surface porous diodes. Because salt dissolves into positively and negatively charged particles, the current is then able to attract the particles and effectively clean the water. The application of a current attracts impurities to the diodes and effectively purifies the water. A study in 2014 found that: “Electrochemical technologies are a promising alternative for the treatment of wastewaters containing organic pollutants. The main advantages of these processes include environmental compatibility, versatility, energy efficiency, safety, selectivity, amenability to automation and cost effectiveness.3” Another development from the University of Colorado in Boulder discovered that using a WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 11


The interest surrounding advanced electrochemical technology stems from the fact that it offers the industry multiple wins on multiple levels


microbe powered battery, they could produce a cost effective solution to many of their water treatment needs. Microbes used in the treatment process effectively eat the hydrocarbon contaminants creating energy. This energy is then transformed into a current which can be used in the desalination process. Speaking to Science, Zhiyong Jason Ren, a CU-Boulder associate professor of environmental and sustainability engineering said: “The beauty of the technology is that it tackles two different problems in one single system. The problems become mutually beneficial in our system – they complement each other – and the process produces energy rather than just consumes it.”

Electrochlorination Technologies Elsewhere, significant strides are being made in addressing water fouling through electrochlorination technologies. This can produce a solution of sodium hypochlorite onsite for direct injection into the water cooling systems. It uses an advanced electrolyser technology which reduces the need for dangerous and toxic chemicals. The method is already proving its worth in numerous situations around the world. For example, on board the Pieter Schelte, the world’s largest decommissioning and pipe laying vessel, electrochlorination technology is being used as a cleaner and more cost effective form of anti-biofouling treatment. Its ability to produce the sodium hypochlorite solution on board eliminates the need for purchasing and storing biocide. A self-cleaning feature


also reduces the need for acid wash downs of the system. All in all it contributes to lower maintenance and a long life span for the product. Excitement stems from the range of uses surrounding this technology. It is environmentally friendly, reducing the need for chemicals, and can improve the running of existing equipment, reducing down time and repair. Moreover, it has advantages over many existing products, not only by being cleaner to use, but also through offering lower running costs. Further, the opportunity of extending its use to produce water treatment opens up the prospect of transforming dirty oily water into clean still water, as well as creating a potential storage solution for energy. This can drive down costs as well as reducing emissions for offshore operations. The interest surrounding advanced electrochemical technology stems from the fact that it offers the industry multiple wins on multiple levels. Tests suggest it is more effective than conventional technology, it is less expensive by reducing the amount of associated products required, and can limit maintenance and downtime – all of which have further ripple effects across the operation of an oil and gas platform. Moreover, it is more environmentally friendly than other comparative products. Within one single package, therefore, is a unit which can help the industry address almost all of its most pressing water concerns. The challenge now is for existing products to prove their effectiveness and for new developments to quickly come online which further empower the industry.


New Technologies for a New Future Tom Cropper, Editor As offshore oil and gas looks toward the future, how can it address its increasing use of water?


ATER COULD prove to be the most pressing challenge facing the oil and gas industry – and the world as a whole. With the future of the oil and gas industry lying in ex tre me e nv ironme nt and unconventional oil production, its use of water is growing rapidly. However, this comes at a time when global water supplies are shrinking. To meet the challenge, we are seeing a host of new technologies coming to market which revolutionise the way the offshore industry makes use of its water. This not only has profound implications for the industry, but the ability to produce improved desalination and purification technologies could also be beneficial for an increasingly water-starved world.

New Opportunities for the Future The rise of unconventional oil has massive implications for water use. A conventional well requires 25,000 barrels of water; an unconventional well needs 250,000 barrels – approximately ten times as much. This comes through water injection for hydraulic fracturing, water-based drilling fluid, cooling systems and waste water. Such is the increase in water production that an entirely new shift in approach is required. In turn, this creates an opportunity for water companies. The most basic issue is in the storage and transport of water. Costs can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, this pales into insignificance when looking at other costs. A company which fails to address water disposal can fall foul of more stringent regulations, run into higher operating costs and see production decrease. This not only impacts on the bottom line and profitability, it also affects the operator’s overall competiveness. With new technologies

coming online there is a key opportunity for more proactive companies to steal a crucial march on their competition.

Cleaner, More Effective Technologies Over the last few years the industry has seen the steady introduction of new high technology solutions relying on membrane filtration, reverse osmosis, chemical and biological treatment. All these have significantly contributed to improved filtration performance. But one of the most interesting areas is in electrochemical desalination technologies. These have been discussed elsewhere in this Report, and according to various tests around the world have exhibited extremely promising results. Electrochemical desalination technologies first appeared during the 1960s and offer a more economical and environmentally friendly method of water desalination. Until now, they have taken some time to make their way into the offshore oil and gas market because of difficulties developing affordable products which were suitable for sea water desalination. Most early models were only capable of addressing brackish water. These have gradually been extended to provide solutions for sea water and the oil and gas industry. One of the leaders in this field, Evoqua, demonstrated that its process could reach 1.63kwh / m3 or around half the energy used by reverse osmosis technology4. They have produced a range of products specifically aimed at the oil and gas market which they say offer significant benefits. Its Chloropac units, they say, have the potential to save oil producers over 5% in lost oil production due to biofouling. In addition to this, they have produced a specialist product aimed at treating fluids in blowout WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 13


A conventional well requires 25,000 barrels of water; an unconventional well needs 250,000 barrels – approximately ten times as much


preventers. Both these units provide a valuable service in addressing concerns which had not previously been sufficiently understood by the wider industry; the role water treatment could play in certain specific applications across the rig in extending the lifecycle and environmental sustainability of key components in the rig. Developing this awareness has been – and remains – one of the key challenges of the industry. Drilling companies have tended to accept certain levels of maintenance and repair as a part of routine operations on board the rig. It is only through the application of these technologies that they have found opportunities for significant efficiency savings where previously they thought there were none.

New Technologies This technology continues to evolve and develop. Around the world, the industry is testing and experimenting with new purification technologies which can significantly revolutionise the way the industry processes water. For example, a recent report from the Oxford Journal illustrates the promise shown by measures such as photoelectrolysis and photoelectrocatalysts for potential usages in the oil and gas industry. These technologies have yet to become commercially viable but testing results hint at their potential5. Other technologies such as Dynamic Vapour Recompression are coming to market, which can allow the industry to clean up some of the dirtiest water it produces. This involves the vaporisation of water at a relatively low temperature, which is then condensed in a high pressure chamber. The importance of these technologies stretches far beyond just the oil and gas industry. The developed world – especially the USA – is running dangerously short of water. According 14 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, by 2025 1.8bn people could be living in countries or regions experiencing absolute water scarcity, and two thirds of the world’s population could be under stress conditions6. Around the world, droughts are already causing severe economic, social and political problems. California is experiencing its fourth year of drought. In Rio de Janeiro, a recent drought saw residents desperately drilling through their floors to reach ground water. Meanwhile, plans drawn up by Ethiopia to damn the Nile sparked a diplomatic crisis with Egypt.7 According to an increasing number of people, the next major global crisis will be sparked by water shortages. In this environment, desalination technologies built with the oil industry in mind could represent a significant breakthrough. Speaking to, Stanley Weiner, CEO of STW Resources, said: “Until recently, new technology that could realistically address urgent issues of water supply around the world had been relegated to the realm of science fiction…. what we’re seeing today is a breakthrough that is far more significant than the technological advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that ushered in the shale revolution. Today, we can provide a solution to droughts; we can provide dry communities with more drinking water than they ever could have imagined.”8 This is indeed, then, a water revolution. The industry is continually developing new technologies to improve its water usage. These will have a key role to play in answering how it meets the future needs of oil and gas exploration. However, as a look at the wider environment demonstrates, they could potentially have much greater implications for some of the most critical issues affecting the world.


References: 1

Ultra high pressure, high temperature oil and gas:


Applicability of Electrochemical Oxidation Process to the Treatment of Petrochemical Effluents:


Application of Electrochemical Oxidation Process:


Evoqua Launches the Next Generation in Electrochemical desalination:




Produced Water Treatment Technologies: Water scarcity issues: How water shortages lead to food crisis and conflict:


The Game Changing Water Revolutions:


Offshore Technology Reports… the leading specialist combined online research and networking resource for senior upstream oil and gas industry professionals.

• Up to the minute Industry and Technology information available to all site users on a free of charge open access basis. • Qualified signed up members are able to access premium content Special Reports and interact with their peers using a variety of advanced online networking tools. • Designed to help users identify new technical solutions, understand the implications of different technical choices and select the best solutions available. • Thought Leadership – Advice and guidance from internationally recognised upstream oil and gas key opinion leaders. • Peer Input – Contributions from senior upstream oil and gas industry professionals. • Independent Editorial Content – Expert and authoritative analysis from award winning journalists and leading industry commentators. •

Supplier Provided Content.

Designed to facilitate debate.

Written to the highest professional standards


Profile for Global Business Media

Next Generation Water Treatment & Process Technology – Offshore Oil & Gas Operations  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Water Treatment and Process Technology for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations

Next Generation Water Treatment & Process Technology – Offshore Oil & Gas Operations  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Water Treatment and Process Technology for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations