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As produced fluids are brought to the surface, the first step in managing produced water is basic separation of fluids (oil, gas, water) solids from one another. Once the materials have been separated, companies can use a variety of technologies and practices to manage the water. The management technologies and practices can be grouped into three major categories: water minimization, recycle/reuse, and treatment/disposal. However, the categories overlap somewhat. For example, many of the reuse opportunities require that the produced water be treated before it can be used for another purpose.
Produced water management typically differs between onshore and offshore facilities. This is partly due to the space and weight restrictions at most offshore sites. Also the primary contaminant of concern is typically different between onshore discharges (salt content) and offshore discharges (oil and grease level). Onshore produced water faces different options depending on where in the country the well is located and whether the water comes from an oil or gas well or from coal bed natural gas (CBNG also known as coal bed methane or CBM) production. Follow the links below to learn more about the specific technologies and practices in each category.