Whilst there is a significant emphasis in developing cleaner energy, oil and gas are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Having said that, there are several trends emerging, including:
For the North Sea, oil and gas production is declining, major oil companies will continue to shift their emphasis by diversifying their investments and interests elsewhere, providing new opportunities for independent operators. Cost control and technology development will be key in producing the remaining oil reserves in the basin. How well produced water is managed in the North Sea will play a vitally important role.
Shale oil and gas production continues to flourish in North and South America. Water management, including flowback water and produced water, is critically important for the sector. Treatment and re-use will be increasingly needed. In Europe and UK, shale gas and oil exploration and production are significantly behind. Concerns of local communities and impact to the environment will have to be addressed before meaningful activities are resumed.
Overall, a combination of tightened regulatory requirements and increasing water production together with the need to use chemically enhanced oil recovery, and a shift towards deep-sea production of heavy oil, means that management of produced water is becoming ever more important.
For oil and gas production, produced water is inevitable; if there is no water, there is no oil! TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory is well placed to consolidate its position to provide expertise and research to support operators with produced water measurement and management.