Transforming Oil and Gas Wastewater Into a Valuable Resource

Oct 24, 2022
 by Seven Seas News Team

In the oil and gas industry, produced water reuse could help cut the sector's freshwater consumption and become a source of vital minerals.

New framework helps advance technologies to manage water use in the fossil and energy industry

Large oil and gas operators spend hundreds of millions annually to manage produced water, naturally occurring water that is extracted from wells along with oil and gas. It can contain dissolved and suspended solids, as well as soluble and nonsoluble oil and other organic compounds.

It’s a significant part of operating expenses, yet few energy companies use technology to get the most out of the process. That might change with the United States Department of Energy’s revolutionary produced-water optimization program, PARETO, a free and open-source software tool developed by National Energy Technology Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

PARETO is a Python-based framework designed to help identify cost-efficient and sustainable ways to manage, treat, and reuse produced water from oil and gas exploration. The tool received a Hart Energy Special Meritorious Award for Engineering Innovation for its water management benefits.

New Opportunities for Water

With user-provided information on water production, demand, and transportation, PARETO can help plan and construct produced-water infrastructure while improving coordination of water deliveries. It’s designed to help pinpoint ways to reuse and better manage produced water in active oil and gas development zones and to cut water consumption.

PARETO is expected to help in several key areas:

  • Siting and sizing of water pipelines.
  • Coordinating deliveries of produced water.
  • Choosing technologies, and siting and scaling plants.
  • Identifying reuse and resource recovery opportunities.
  • Distributing treated produced water and concentrated brine.

It can help environmentally as well by:

  • Improving use of existing produced-water infrastructure.
  • Promoting the piping of produced water instead of trucking.
  • Reducing deep well injection of produced water.
  • Cutting consumption of fresh water.
  • Locating reuse opportunities within and outside the oil and gas industry.
  • Exploring mineral recovery from produced water.

Oil and Gas Refinery at Sunset

PARETO is expected to help environmentally by locating water reuse opportunities within and outside the fossil and energy sector.

Disposal is the dominant practice for dealing with produced water in the U.S. because of the challenges of treating it, but it’s not a sustainable solution. Disposal is increasingly regulated, and deep well injection is known to cause earthquakes.

In a time of drought and long-term aridification associated with climate change, produced water reuse could be a game changer for many industries. Treated produced water could be used in the production of hydrogen, and for irrigation of nonedible crops, for example.

In a decarbonizing energy industry, water management is expected to continue to grow in importance. Reusing produced water for operations would help cut freshwater consumption within the oil and gas industry. Produced water also could become a source of critical minerals, including lithium to power electric vehicles. When produced water is recycled for industrial reuse, it takes pressure off of traditional sources of fresh water, an important consideration near water-stressed communities.

With the growing importance of water management, Seven Seas Water Group’s Water-as-a-Service® can deliver solutions for industrial needs, from desalinating process water to treating produced water for nonpotable needs. And with build-own-operate financing, capital can be optimized, and clients pay only for the water services they use. Seven Seas does the rest, so you can concentrate on your business. Contact Seven Seas to learn more about our industrial water and wastewater treatment systems.

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