Water treatment is a critical process in the oil and gas industry, whose operations use large amounts of water. Water used in industry is often contaminated with impurities and chemicals that can be harmful to the environment if not handled properly.


Treating water is important to comply with environmental regulations, reuse water to reduce freshwater withdrawals, and save costs. Additionally, untreated water can lead to fouling, corrosion, and other problems with production equipment, reducing productivity and increasing downtime.

In this blog post, we explore why water treatment is critical to the oil and gas industry, and the benefits it provides. We will also discuss the various treatment methods and technologies used in the industry to remove impurities and pollutants from water.

Challenges in the oil and gas industry

Oil and gas, as one of the largest water users, have also caused serious water pollution. The current market price of the oil and gas industry is low, and the environmental protection standards for the industry are stricter. Whether it is for wastewater discharge or utilization, it is necessary to deal with raw oil and natural gas containing a variety of toxic elements and impurities.


Most of the mineable areas lack water sources, and industrial wastewater is not treated optimally, and many wastewater treatments do not comply with local regulations. Oilfield-produced water wastewater treatment is now a pressing issue as a result.

Oil/water separation

When the reservoir fluid (gas/oil/water) is extracted to the surface for separation and treatment, the pressure will decrease, which will easily lead to the generation of an insoluble scale. In layman’s terms: the reduction in pressure will convert soluble carbonates into carbonate ions, and release carbon dioxide gas at the same time.


Scale formation can be inhibited by adding antiscalant chemicals to the reservoir fluid while it is still at high pressure. By no means is the water leaving the separation train “clean.” It will likely have some particles and some leftover oil, mainly in the form of tiny droplets distributed throughout the water.

The existence of potential pollutants in these waters needs to be addressed given the mounting need to safeguard the environment. Second, certain hydrocarbons are present in the water, which might be extracted and added back to the primary production system.

Deoiling produced waters

Early industrial systems for treating these produced fluids were mostly focused on mineral treatment technology, which was only able to extract bigger oil droplets—smaller oil droplets could not be removed. The ability to remove dispersed oil droplets from generated water has now been made possible thanks in large part to the following techniques:

  • By using coalescing filters, the overall droplet size is increased.
  • Systems for dissolved gas flotation modify the oil droplet’s specific gravity by adding a gas bubble to it.
  • Devices like hydro cyclones and centrifuges use higher gravitational forces to speed up the separation process

Onshore produced water may be processed and used for civil purposes, disposed of in the reservoir in accordance with rules and permissions, or reinjected to aid in further oil and gas recovery.

Offshore-produced water can be carried onshore for appropriate treatments and eventual disposal, injected back into a reservoir or discharged to the sea following proper treatment.

Solution of recycling economy for water in oil and gas

The oil and gas industry provides a large amount of energy for human and industrial activities, but it also consumes a large number of water resources and produces certain wastewater and pollutant discharges.


For example, wastewater from refineries and sludge from oil production wells, and massive consumption of water resources all need to be treated effectively to ensure the sustainability of the environment and other industries.

Reducing water demand is one of the main goals of the oil and natural gas industry, which means rational planning and use of resources, reuse of wastewater, and recycling economy for water to achieve resource sustainability in the industry.

The produced water can be cleaned and reused, reducing the impact of drilling and hydraulic fracturing on the environment. Membrane distillation is a new way to treat complex and highly polluted wastewater so that the produced water can be reused after filtration.

Oil and gas wastewater and wastewater management alternatives


The three main activities involved in this industry are the extraction of crude oil and natural gas, fractionation of crude oil, and production of energy from oil and natural gas. The wastewater produced in different industrial plants in oil and gas is very diverse, but most of them have the following characteristics:

  • Rich in fats, oils, and hydrocarbons
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Dissolved salts
  • Petroleum residue
  • Heavy metals

In general, the major components that require effective removal are oils, grease, hydrocarbons, suspended solids, and dissolved organics. This requires the perfect combination of innovative technology and efficient application in combination with reality, and the treatment of wastewater for reuse.

Reverse osmosis in the oil and gas industry

Membrane technology is different from traditional treatment technology and has the advantages of a compact plate, low energy consumption, and environmental friendliness. Up to 99% of all pollutants and impurities can be successfully removed using reverse osmosis membranes since they have small pores (less than 0.0001 microns).


With good pretreatment, RO membrane technology can be effectively used in wastewater treatment and its life expectancy will be extended. Membrane separation technology has better effluent quality, lower sludge output, high reusability, and a smaller footprint.

Reverse osmosis is a great boost for the oil and gas industry. For the produced water from the industrial operation of this industry, it can be well treated and reused through reverse osmosis. The water treated by reverse osmosis no longer contains any oil and pollutants and can be safely discharged.


In many applications, the production of oil and gas entails the use of large amounts of water and the generation of wastewater. Water treatment has become a top priority in the oil and gas industry. There are many technical solutions for water treatment, choose the most suitable one according to your needs.

As a water treatment expert, Brother Filtration can provide better solutions for you in the oil and natural gas industry and all kinds of filtration products you can choose from. Please contact us now and find the best options.

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