Today's society has a voracious appetite for fuel, whether it is for use in transport or heating homes. Oil production, unfortunately, produces large amounts of waste water during the process of extracting oil. All Oil and Gas reservoirs have layers of natural water and hydrocarbons (a naturally occurring organic compound comprising hydrogen and carbon). In oil and gas production additional water needs to be injected into the reservoir to maximise the separation of its components. The waste water produced ("produced water") in this process contains many harmful substances such as hydrocarbons which need to be removed before the water can be recycled.
Waste water treatment and management is carried out in the main by companies who specialise in this field or carry out this function as part of their offering. Such companies carry out waste management services, tank cleaning, pipe work descaling, oil and chemical spill response, waste disposal and waste water disposal. Waste water treatment is an important area for such service providers, and becoming more so. This is because rigs are ageing and as an older rig's oil reservoir becomes depleted it has to inject more seawater to carry out the separation process effectively - thus producing more waste water that has to be dealt with.
It is important that treatment of the contaminated water is carried out in an efficient and cost effective manner. New technologies are being developed to deal with what is proving to be a difficult problem. Of particular interest is a low cost, simple and sustainable water treatment using a semiconductor as a catalyst. Semiconductor photo catalysis advanced water treatment is a clean technology which could be operated at low cost. The equipment is being designed to be mobile, allowing it be used in remote areas which are often difficult to reach.
More and more guidelines and directives will be governing the management of waste/produced water in the offshore industry and it's essential that companies work with governments and regulating bodies to reduce the harmful effects of their activities. Using science and technology, the possibilities for cleaner industrial processes in the offshore industry are huge.