Produced Water from Oil & Gas Fields as a Potential Source of Irrigation Water
Berkeley National Laboratory
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In may cases, more water than oil is extracted from hydrocarbon-bearing formations, especially from older hydrocarbon reservoirs that are no longer in primary production. Oil and gas (O&G) production occurs in close proximity to agricultural production in many arid regions and there is intense interest in using produced water (PW) for crop irrigation. Growers are looking for new sources of water in the face of extended droughts and O&G producers are interested in both alternatives to current water management practices and the potential to increase revenue. From a global perspective, there is interest in the potential energy savings from reclaiming water that has already been pumped to the surface and reducing the demand on shallow groundwater resources. The utility of PW for irrigation depends on the quality of the produced water and the technical and economic sustainability of applying treatment processes to meet water quality requirements for irrigation. PW has widely varying compositions and typically contain dissolved salts, hydrocarbons, metals, and other constituents undesirable in irrigation water. However, not all PW contain high salt concentrations and treatment processes are available to treat almost any potential contaminate. In this study, we use biogeochemical analysis to select and predict treatment processes performance and inform the development of treatment trains and the systems optimization efforts. PW are characterized by direct chemical analysis and supplemental information available from federal, state, and industry databases. Biogeochemical modeling and engineering analysis are used to predict the fate of individual constituents and constituent mixtures in individual modules of a matrix of possible treatment train combinations. We include an assessment of treatment trains needed to remove additives, including biocides, corrosion inhibitors, and surfactants, used during hydraulic fracturing and other O&G development activities. By integrating an understanding of geochemistry with the performance of different treatment processes, we intend to provide a decision support tool for design of treatment processes and anticipate the sustainability of treatment process performance and water reuse.