Effective water use and reuse tips for petroleum refining

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Effective water use and reuse tips for petroleum refining

Oil and gas are among the key players that have an impact on the economy; however, production can be dangerous. Oil spills can be harmful to wildlife and animals, and fumes can contribute to air pollution, making it toxic to the communities in surrounding areas.

The business sector consumes a large amount of water during process and non-processes, and oil refineries are part of the problem. The major problem is that during oil and gas extracting, the drilling process, known as fracking, can contaminate drinking water.

The contaminated water has chemicals that can lead to cancer, birth defects and liver damage. This is why there is a need for efficient implementations that will handle large volumes of wastewater. To ensure that harmful chemicals stop leaking into water supplies such as rivers and dams, you need to know how to implement the treatment of water in the oil and gas sector.


Conduct a water audit

When looking for effective water use and reuse processes, the first step is to conduct a water audit. A water report is a survey on the site of your petroleum refinery that will show your water usage. This can look at how your processes work and whether they can be changed in order to save water. Or it can be useful in knowing where water wastage is.

Conducting a water audit can help you identify the underlying water issues you may not have realised before. During your water audit, you need to do the following:

  • Have a water usage inventory.
  • Take a look at your water meter as it will show you how much water you are using.
  • Review your process and look to see if you can try processes that require less water.
  • Create a water efficiency plan and execute it.


Recycle and reuse water during processes

One of the most effective ways to use water efficiently is by reusing your wastewater during other processes. Consult with a water and wastewater treatment company in South Africa that will help with the treatment of produced water and effluents for your oil company.

The effluent plants are used to remove the excess debris, dirt, and pollution after industrial processes. The water can either be mine water, zero liquid discharge (ZLD), sewage water, and oil separation. The water can be reused for processes, released into a sanitary sewer, discharged into a river or used as for human and animal consumption.

Water is interconnected; therefore, treating produced water is important. It will ensure that when water flows back into the environment, it is free of any harmful properties. Treatment technologies reduce the chemicals enough so that water can handle it.


Using alternative water sources

Water used during oil and gas production normally come from rivers and dams; however, there are other alternatives that can work just as well as freshwater.

Alternative water solutions are:

  • Brackish groundwater.
  • Seawater is a great source of water for industries.
  • Mine water and ZLD.

All these processes go through the desalination process as the minerals and salts need to be removed before usage. Desalination has two groups, ion exchange and reverse osmosis (RO). Ion exchange is an exchange of ions during the water purification process. Whereas RO is a process where membranes pass through a porous membrane removing ions, molecules and large particles.

However, the preferred method is RO, as it is a cost-effective alternative. Alternative water sources ensure that you have large volumes of water at your disposal to carry on with production. And it gives you peace of mind knowing that you aren’t misusing clean water.


Final thoughts

Although oil and gas companies aren’t able to conserve water because of their processes, there are other ways. The industry can use wastewater, effluent water treatments and alternative water sources to ensure that they do their bit to save water. This is why water management processes have been put in place to ensure that every industry can save water.

So, to ensure droughts do not happen, there need to be steps put in place to ensure that. Another way for oil companies to save water is by reducing water usage on your company grounds. Your company can start using greywater instead of freshwater for cleaning and toilets. Saving water doesn’t end with production, it includes the overall culture of the business.


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