Membrane applications and opportunities for water management in the oil & gas industry

The review article 'Membrane applications and opportunities for water management in the oil & gas industry' has been published in Elsevier journal Desalination.


Water touches most segments of the petroleum industry and thus cost-effective water management is a key part of oil & gas industry operations. The water to be managed is either co-produced with the hydrocarbons, generated as a by-product from oil/gas processing, and/or utilized to support production operations. While a majority of the water usually receives basic treatment, there are multiple recent drivers for advanced treatment that should facilitate beneficial water reuse. Hence, a toolbox of advanced technologies needs to be considered to ensure that fit for purpose treatment is deployed. Membrane processes are key components of the technology toolbox since they include some of the best available technologies.

This paper provides an overview of the various case studies from ConocoPhillips global projects portfolio, which covered various operations such as gas fields, oil fields, oil sands & shale plays. In these case studies, a wide spectrum of membrane processes, including membrane bioreactors, reverse osmosis, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, ceramic membranes, forward osmosis, membrane distillation, pressure retarded osmosis, membrane contactors, and/or new innovative membrane materials were either installed at full scale capacity, evaluated via field/lab testing, or investigated through desktop studies.

The information presented demonstrates that reverse osmosis and nanofiltration are widely utilized by the industry for water desalination and desulfating, respectively. In addition, membrane filtration and bioreactors are frequently applied as standalone treatments for inorganics and organics removal, respectively; or as pretreatment to desalination membranes. Novel membrane technologies and materials are also being developed by the industry for niche applications.

Access the complete article on ScienceDirect.