Treating Produced Water on Deepwater Platforms: Developing Effective Practices Based Upon Lessons Learned

Walsh, John M. (Shell E&P Co.) | Frankiewicz, Ted C. (SPEC Engineering Services)


Abstract Deepwater platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere are transitioning from dry oil or low water cut production to higher water cut production. These platforms face unique challenges resulting from water and crude incompatibilities, high salinity, no advance characterization of the water treatment issues, and a lack of space for water treatment equipment. The lessons learned by deepwater operators can provide an experience base upon which future operators can draw to assist them with projects to debottleneck and/or improve produced water treatment on their deepwater platforms and FPSOs. Equipment and practices which have worked well and not worked well for treating produced water on floating platforms are described and the issues pertinent to the deepwater operation of this equipment are identified. The impact of the deepwater operating environment on produced water treatment systems is discussed. Platform motion, high shear across control valves or pumps, production from multiple reservoirs, process recycle streams, and the use of hydrate inhibitors or other chemicals all impact the design of a water treatment process and the operation of water treating equipment. The experiences detailed in this paper are intended to help engineers avoid the process design and equipment selection issues which were problematic for earlier deepwater operations.

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