An unexpected source of water, Thanks to our friends in the oil and gas Industry
Oil Production as a source of water?
Many sustainably minded people believe the oil industry is the last place you would expect to receive ideas on how to be more green. However, in water scarce locations any possible source of water which might produce additional non-potable water should be examined as a method to ensure as much potable water is available for the people whose lives depend on it.
Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas exploration and production. The water which was trapped in underground formations is brought to the surface in traditional oil and gas wells along with the gas and oil.
The major constituents of interest in produced water are salt, oil and grease, various inorganic and organic chemicals and naturally occurring radioactive material, for example Radium.
Produced water is the largest volume byproduct stream associated with oil and gas exploration and production. In fact, more than 98% of produced water from onshore wells is re-injected back into the ground after the oil and gas are extracted.
Since the water has been in contact with the hydrocarbon bearing formation for centuries before it was extracted from the ground it exhibits some of the chemical characteristics of the hydrocarbon. It may include, any chemicals added during the drilling, production, and treatment processes.
Produced water can be used beneficial in application including crop irrigation and livestock watering provided the water is treated appropriately prior to being used.
Sodium, the most commonly occurring dominant cation in produced water is the reason water needs to be treated. Elevated sodium levels compete with calcium, magnesium, and potassium for uptake by plant roots can cause poor soil structure and inhibit water infiltration in soils.
In response to our water challenges
The nation faces an increasing set of water resource challenges which include aging infrastructure, rapid population growth, depletion of ground water resources, and climate variability and change. Produced water could potentially augment conventional water supplies.
The expected water scarcity will require consideration on any possible sources of water to meet our future demand. Even if the end use of not as “green” as we would like the future may not give us a choice of where we obtain the water needed keep the maintain the water we depend on.