4 Ways Water Treatment is Essential to the Oil and Gas Industry
Almost every process for harvesting oil and gas also produced water as a byproduct. This is called produced water, and it comes out of the ground in a highly impure state. The water contains traces of oil or gas along with a variety of other minerals and contaminants. That makes it unsafe to release into the environment and unfit for human use without significant treatment. Fortunately, oil and gas companies have risen to the occasion and turned water treatment into an essential part of their work, which produces several benefits for both the companies themselves and the environment around them.
The most important benefit of water treatment is environmental protection. Produced water that does not undergo treatment is full of chemicals that can be toxic to plants and animals, so releasing it without treatment can do significant damage. Water treatment can safely remove all of those contaminants, which significantly reduces the risk to the environment.
The planet contains a very finite amount of oil and gas, so it’s important for companies to get every last drop out of their reservoirs. A significant amount of oil and gas will get mixed into the produced water during the extraction process, and few companies are willing to let those hydrocarbons go to waste. Filtering the oil and gas out of the water is an important part of the treatment process, and companies can easily recover it from the filtration process and add it to their stock. This can significantly increase the output of an oil well, especially one that has been running for a long time, and lead to extra profits for the oil company.
Most oil and gas deposits are mixed in with rock in the ground, so extracting them can also extract other valuable minerals. These minerals usually get mixed in with the produced water during extraction, and they are filtered out during the treatment process. The average reservoir won’t produce any of these extra minerals in huge quantities, but companies can still sell them to raise extra money and reduce the need for destructive mines in other areas.
It is relatively rare for the water from oilfields to be purified and used, but it does happen. Recent water shortages have encouraged researchers to look into methods for turning produced water into a useful resource, their work is starting to bear fruit. The technology is still developing, but it is likely that areas that are running low on fresh water will begin to use purified water from oilfields in the near future. It is possible that some people will use it as a source of drinking water, but it’s more likely that it will be used in industrial processes or for watering crops.