Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Management of Produced Water
The goal of this project is to develop extensive data and identify and analyze
issues on produced water and its management. The objective of these projects
is to provide DOE-NETL and its stakeholders with a good background on produced
water in the 2003-2004 timeframe. In addition to giving DOE useful and current
information, these projects help make DOE more aware of the produced water research
needs, which at the time was one of DOE's key focus areas for new research.
Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne completed the white paper in January 2004 and the downhole separation
report in November 2004. Argonne has made several presentations describing the
new information and has incorporated new material from the white paper and the
downhole separation report into its comprehensive water and waste regulatory
issues and management technologies workshop.
The produced water white paper provides an excellent overview of many important
aspects of produced water and its management. The paper is detailed enough to
provide good insights into the subject yet concise enough for DOE and its stakeholders
to read in just a few hours. In addition to the text and tables, the white paper
includes more than 100 references, many of which are documents written in the
past three years. The timing of the white paper helped NETL management to develop
a better understanding of produced water in advance of its January 2004 solicitation
for produced water research. The white paper has served and will continue to
serve as a source of coordinated produced water information for NETL and its
The downhole separation report has the important value of compiling data on
more than 120 DOWS and DGWS installations around the world. This represents
the most complete publicly available database on actual downhole separation
installations. Although DOWS and DGWS technology are not currently being used
extensively, this report provides historical information that will be valuable
to future users and technology developers.
Management of produced water presents technical, economic, and regulatory issues.
Different produced water management approaches-discharge to surface water, injection
for enhanced recovery or pressure maintenance, and injection for disposal, evaporation,
and beneficial reuse-are utilized in different regions of the Nation. The cost
of managing produced water ranges from less than 1 cent per barrel to several
dollars per barrel. Considering the large volume of produced water that is generated
each year (15-20 billion barrels per year in the United States alone), this
is a significant expense for the oil and gas industry.
DOE is interested in better understanding many aspects of produced water management
and in identifying technologies and approaches that allow for lower-cost water
management. DOE is better able to assist the domestic oil and natural gas industry
in managing its produced water safely and economically if it has a better-compiled
and coordinated source of information on produced water.
Argonne prepared a comprehensive white paper on the volume and characteristics
of produced water generated in the United States, the state and federal regulatory
requirements governing produced water, the technologies and approaches used
to manage produced water, and the associated costs of management. The white
paper served as a source of coordinated produced water information for DOE and
Argonne also identified and characterized the current status of downhole separation
technology and attempted to quantify the opportunities for expanded use of downhole
separation in the United States. Argonne reviewed past DOWS and DGWS installations
to develop data on the types of producing and injection formations that have
worked best with these technologies. In addition to preparing these formal reports,
Argonne conducted extensive outreach, training, and technology transfer through
presentations, publications, and information sharing.
Among the chief conclusions drawn from these efforts are:
- Produced water is the largest-volume waste stream associated with oil and
- Management of produced water can represent a critical cost component that
affects the economic viability of oil and gas production.
- The produced water white paper provides concise and comprehensive information
on produced water and ways in which it can be managed. This type of knowledge
helps operators and regulators to be better informed and to select management
options that can lower production costs and protect the environment.
- DOWS and DGWS technology has not been used extensively in 2004-2005, but
the knowledge provided in the report will help future users and technology
developers to use the technology to manage produced water more effectively.
Current Status (June 2006)
The white paper provided a concise and comprehensive description of produced
water information. DOE-NETL used this information to guide their 2004 solicitation
for produced water research. Both the white paper and the report were distributed
widely and were summarized in subsequent issues of the Oil & Gas Journal.
Veil, J.A., Puder, M.G., Elcock, D., and Redweik, Jr., R.J., A White Paper Describing
Produced Water from Production of Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal Bed Methane,
prepared by Argonne National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, National
Energy Technology Laboratory, January 2004, 87 pp. (http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/dsp_detail.cfm?PubID=1715).
Veil, J.A., and Quinn, J.J., Downhole Separation Technology Performance: Relationship
to Geological Conditions, prepared by Argonne National Laboratory for the U.S.
Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, November 2004,
47 pp. (http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/dsp_detail.cfm?PubID=1783)
Veil, J.A., and Puder, M.G., Regulatory Considerations in the Management of
Produced Water-A U.S. Perspective, Gas Tips, Summer 2005.
Project Start: August 10, 2003
Project End: January 31, 2006
Anticipated DOE Contribution: $150,000
Performer Contribution: $0 (0% of total cost)
NETL - John Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-699-2061)
ANL - John Veil (email@example.com or 202-488-2450)
An onshore tank battery, often one of the problematic sites for the U.S. oil
and gas industry's issues with produced water.
Offshore discharge of treated produced water, such as through the leg column
of this semisubmersible drilling rig, remains a major cost and environmental
concern for the oil and gas industry.