Water. It’s essential to life as we know it and forms the major component of both the human body and the globe. Without it, we wouldn’t exist, and thanks to it we’re able to do incredible, innovative things. Water has also always played an important role within the oil and gas industry. The team here at TriStone Holdings Ltd, an emergent UK oil investment company, wanted to explore this topic in a little more detail!
How Is Water Used In Conventional Drilling?
Water is used as both a coolant and a lubricant within the oil and gas industry. The water used within this sector is typically sourced from groundwater sources or from rivers and lakes. And though you might just hear yourself saying “well, it’s just water, what’s the big deal?” when you consider the fact that most wells spend roughly 10% of their annual capital budget on water in one way or another, you begin to understand it’s importance.
Increasingly, though, given the high demands and stresses being placed on water availability, globally, recycled/re-used water is being used. Likewise, other alternatives like brackish water (slightly saline, found in river estuaries, for instance) are being considered by major oil firms.
‘Produced Water’ (PW)
The water that is produced alongside the conventional welling process is conventionally viewed as a waste product; it primarily comprises water exiting the well combined with any fluids used in the extraction process. The contaminants within this PW can have detrimental impacts upon both terrestrial and aquatic environments and efforts are increasingly being made, therefore, to address the issue. Fortunately, produced water can be (and increasingly is) treated via several processes and converted into usable and potable water. The process for this is as follows:
Firstly, the solid hydrocarbon particles and oil need to be bonded together. This is done by using something called a coagulant injection. In the same way that in medicine, anticoagulants are used as blood thinners, these coagulant injections essentially ‘clot’ these solid particles together.
Then, once that clotting process has taken place, the oil particles and solids are separated from the water; this is done using specialist separation equipment. For the finer particles, an even finer ‘ultrafiltration’ method can be used.
By this point, most of the hydrocarbon materials should have been separated from the water. There might still be some residual hydrocarbons that have dissolved within the water. To remove these, a process called adsorption is needed. This revolves around using a solid ‘adsorbent’ to attract molecules of the ‘adsorbent’ (those particles needing removing) which then adhere to that solid adsorbent’s surface. Adsorbents can take many different forms and fall into one of four categories: earth crust, bio-adsorbents, lab-synthesized and commercial.
Once the contaminants have been removed from the water, the water will still most likely be very salinated (salty) and full of ions like chloride, sodium, sulphate, magnesium, calcium and potassium. To filter out these ions, softeners are often used as well as ionic exchangers. Following this, the resultant water is typically usable!
Water Within The Fracking Process
Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is the process of using a highly pressurised mixture of water and chemicals injected within a borehole to allow gas to escape out of the rock. As you might imagine, given the nature of the process, fracking initially uses a large amount of water. Because of this, many scientists and engineers are looking for ways in which to reduce the volume of water for fracking operations.
One of the leading alternatives could be something known as ‘channel fracturing technology’; this method revolves around the manipulation and behaviour of ‘proppants’. It’s thought to reduce water consumption by as much as 58%, as well as improving safety standards and reducing operational costs.
Contact TriStone Holdings Ltd
The use of water has always been important in the O&G industry. Now, however, what’s just as important is how it’s conserved and used efficiently. The keener environmental focus of many leading oil and gas players has meant water shifting to the top of many agendas, and that’s no bad thing! So, if you’d like to find out more about our UK oil investment company, then get in touch! Contact TriStone Holdings Ltd today on 0800 055 7079 or by emailing us on [email protected]