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New cleaning technology for produced water


When oil is produced, water accounts for about 60 per cent of the pumped volume. Today, a high percentage of this briny water is polluted. In response to the authorities’ target of pollution-free produced water, a new cleaning technology will be developed over the next three years.

Water volumes are increasing, and purification requirements are becoming far more stringent. In response, we are making broad-based efforts to develop a whole new technology, comments the project manager, Professor Johan Sjöblom of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

Headed by NTNU, the research project will be based on broad cooperation between several oil companies and research groups.

On the Norwegian Continental Shelf, water accounts for about 60 per cent of the pumped volume, and the water content is rising as the oil fields age.

In 2003, 135 million cubic metres of produced water were discharged on the Norwegian Shelf. The Norwegian authorities’ goal is to ensure that this produced water is completely free of pollutants when discharged. This goal has not been reached as yet, and polluted produced water is currently either discharged into the sea or reinjected into the oil reservoirs. It is hoped that the new research project will provide a solution to the purification problems.

To develop a new, smoothly-functioning cleaning technology for produced water, NTNU has gathered talented people from a number of research communities and fields.

The special thing about this project is that we are addressing the issue from several different angles. For example, we have linked together two departments at NTNU that have long experience of purifying municipal and industrial waste water, and a group that has considerable experience with emulsions and the separation of oil and water for the petroleum industry. In addition, the oil industry and the supply industry are part of the team. You might say that we are throwing all the ammunition we have at eliminating the problem of polluted produced water, concludes Professor Johan Sjöblom.

The project is scheduled to run until 2008.

Thomas Evensen | alfa
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