Is Surfactant Environmentally Safe for Offshore Use and Discharge? An Evaluation Strategy for Chemical EOR Application in Malaysia

Chai Ching Hsia, Ivy (PETRONAS Research Sdn. Bhd.) | M. Yusof, M. Faiz (PETRONAS Research Sdn. Bhd.) | Hanafiah, Norshariza (Group Technology Solutions, PETRONAS)



Without regulation pertaining to the use and discharge of surfactant for offshore enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process in Malaysia, we adopted the guidelines from OSPAR (Oslo Paris Convention) that governs the use and discharge of offshore chemicals in the North Sea Region. In OSPAR, the CHARM (Chemical Hazard Assessment and Risk Management) model is being used to assess the risk of offshore chemicals to the marine environment. CHARM prescribes the Predicted Environment Concentration:Predicted No-Effect Concentration (PEC:PNEC) approach which ratio determines the hazard quotient (HQ) in order to rank the chemical by colour banding. Our surfactant formulation achieved a HQ of 2.16 or Silver colour banding with the stipulation that the volume of the discharged produced water is twice the volume of chemical solution (squeeze) injected. Nevertheless, in providing more certainty and confidence for both operators and local regulators to allow for overboard discharge of our flow-back surfactant formulation, we conducted a comprehensive produced water dilution modelling called DREAM (Dose-related Risk and Effect Assessment Model). The model calculates the Environmental Impact Factor (EIF) of each component of the chemical in the discharged produced water. Similar to CHARM, the DREAM uses the PEC:PNEC approach, but its PEC input parameters include environmental influences such as weather profile, current, etc. and incorporates a slick model. Its output is a quantation of the risks to the receiving environment, called the Environmental Impact Factor (EIF); where EIF is more than 1, the impact to the environment is significant. We simulated the chemical fate of individual component of the formulation with the scenario whereby the produced water is not treated prior to discharge. The time-averaged EIFs were more than 1 across all weather windows, indicating the discharge of untreated chemical-containing produced water is likely to have a localized environmental impact. We used both CHARM and DREAM as decision support tools for effective management of operational discharges from offshore projects. Limitations and recommendations from DREAM simulation results in the context of our EOR application are discussed.