Along with the crude oil and natural gas that fuels modern civilization, the energy industry brings nearly 233 billion barrels of wastewater from beneath the earth’s surface every year. This so-called “produced water” can contain a variety of contaminants – from oil and grease to chemicals, micro-organisms, and radioactive elements. The need to treat this water before disposal or reuse has attracted a multitude of technology developers clambering to tackle the challenge. This week’s graphic ranks 29 companies developing solutions for offshore produced water treatment.
Offshore oil platforms are a wholly different kettle of fish than onshore rigs. Clearly, offshore technologies must fit within strict confines, making large treatment systems simply unfeasible. Plus, disposal options are limited for offshore produced water. Generally it is just discharged into the ocean, and regulation around contaminant levels is strictly enforced. Energy exploration and production companies are required to send monthly discharge samples for testing. Regulation for offshore produced water discharge is mainly focused on dissolved and dispersed hydrocarbon content. This last factor helps explain the favorable position of MyCelx Technologies Corporation and Abtech Industries. Both companies derive their high technical score for developing hydrocarbon absorbing polymer technology, which suits for the size and contaminant considerations of offshore treatment.
Veolia MPPE occupies the Dominant quadrant in several of the report’s figures, including this one. In the case of offshore treatment, the company’s position is due in part to applications in the North Sea, which has the most strict discharge limits of less than 20 ppm of hydrocarbons allowed and a “no damage requirement,” which Veolia’s system is able to address. The challenge with absorbants is that they produce waste (sponge or beads) that also needs to be managed. For this reason, advanced oxidation and coarse filtration are other technologies applied to this market segment.