Assessing the Environmental Risk of Produced Water Discharges

20 October, 2011


Assessing the Environmental Risk of Produced Water Discharges


20 October 2011 London Evening Meeting

Chairman Dr Bob Allwood, Chief Executive, SUT

Sponsored by Xodus Group


Report PDF file


Flyer PDF file



Media and public interest in environmental issues and the oil and gas industry are currently the greatest they have ever been since hydrocarbon reserves were discovered in the North Sea. Although much of the interest currently focuses on oil spills, there has been interest in discharges of hydrocarbons and other components in produced water.

The discharge of produced water from offshore installations has been a topic of discussions for OSPAR and the preceding Paris Commission since 1978. The Offshore Industry Committee (OIC) of OSPAR has revisited the topic of produced water many times over the intervening years and has addressed sampling and analysis, BAT, BEP as well as standards. Most recently OIC have been developing a ‘Risk Based Approach on the Assessment of Produced Water’. In addition, EU regulations such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and REACH have potential to impact on produced water discharges in the near future.

These regulations often lead to the installation of compliance based process improvements to reduce the potential of produced water discharges to adversely impact the marine environment. In bringing about such modifications these regulations may have a direct and significant impact on both the capital expenditure of projects as well as the subsequent operating expenditure of assets, and can contribute to business and project risks. They will also have an impact on the environmental performance of a project, for example as the balance of different environmental emissions shifts from marine discharges to atmospheric discharges.

In order to understand and achieve BAT and BEP for the management of produced water it is essential to understand the risk of the discharges to the marine environment. This presentation reviewed the potential methodologies for a Risk Based Approach to the Assessment of Produced Water and provided background to the work of OIC in this area. Context to current concerns regarding the environmental impact of substances in produced water was provided from an overview of the current available information on produced water discharges in the North Sea in the light of OSPAR drivers of BAT and BPEO.



Dr Anthony Millais, Principal Environmental Consultant, Xodus Group Limited

Xodus Group is an independent, international energy consultancy providing a uniquely integrated package of solutions for clients as they seek to overcome challenges throughout the life of their assets.

From conceptual definition, through design and construction and into operation, Xodus provides the clever and innovative thinking needed to maximise the return on our customers’ investment.