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NEXT GENERATION WATER TREATMENT AND PROCESS TECHNOLOGY FOR OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS OPERATIONS

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.

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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

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