Most oil & gas companies currently produce more water than oil, and as the fields mature the volume of water inexorably increases. Most produced water can be reinjected into the reservoirs to maintain pressure; this calls for a very fine filtration technology to avoid the risk of plugging the wells or damaging the reservoirs. Depending on the size of the field, the technology chosen must be both effective and economical.
INNOVATION TO ACHIEVE “ZERO” DISCHARGE
To meet these challenges, the CSTJF engineers are forever developing innovative solutions, such as the ceramic membrane ultrafiltration process (FLEX). By eliminating suspended particles of a few hundredths of a micron as well as non-solubilized hydrocarbon droplets, this technology is much more effective than conventional solutions. It has never before been applied to produced water in the oil & gas industry. So, it’s a first for Total, and for the Exploration & Production sector as a whole.
The FLEX process consists in filtering both seawater and produced water in a single installation using ceramic membranes. The result of 10 years of R&D, FLEX produces high-quality water completely free of hydrocarbons and suspended solids, while ensuring savings of 20 to 25% on the investment cost of filtration and simplified operations by switching from two membrane units to just one.
Thanks to the FLEX process, Total can also adapt the operating conditions to treat seawater and produced water as a mixture (Full FLEX). The objective is to promote the reinjection of produced water into the reservoir in order to achieve “zero discharge” into the environment and thereby minimize the amounts of water taken from the natural environment.