Produced Water Facility at Chevron San Ardo Oil Field Features the First-Ever Installation of OPUS®

SCOPE

Chevron’s San Ardo oil field in Southern California recovers more than 10,000 barrels of heavy oil each day. The oil extraction process generates large volumes of produced water that require treatment and management, typically disposed of by deep well injection. Chevron engaged Veolia’s water treatment technology, engineering and operations experts to provide a new solution for sustainably treating the produced water. This would allow Chevron to minimize its water impact, while maximizing efficiency and significantly expanding production.

Southern California Refinery Case Study

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To achieve this, Veolia provided Engineer-Procure (EP) services and operates a produced water management facility at this oil field that features the first-ever installation of Veolia’s OPUS® (Optimized Pretreatment and Unique Separation) technology. In this case, Chevron San Ardo’s treated water is used in two ways – reused for steam generation, and released into aquifer recharge basins that replenish local water resources and allow Chevron to recover more oil. The reliable operations & maintenance of the plant is backed by a Veolia performance guarantee.

CHALLENGE

The process of extracting oil from the ground generates a volume of water that can range from 10 to 20 times the oil production rate. Historically, a portion of this water had been recycled and softened for reuse in steam generation, with the remainder going to local EPA class II injection wells for disposal. However the injection zone capacity is limited, which constrains full field development and daily production levels.

The raw produced water for this oil field is 200°F, and contains about 25 ppm free oil, 80 ppm TOC, 240 ppm silica, 26 ppm boron, 240 ppm hardness and 6,500 ppm Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The project goal was to reduce the feed water TDS to less than 510 ppm and boron to less than 0.64 ppm for discharge, while achieving 75% water recovery across the treatment system and minimizing the volume of produced water requiring re-injection. For steam generation, the project goal was to reduce the feed water hardness to less than 2 ppm total hardness as CaCO3.

SOLUTION

Veolia provided Chevron with the first produced water facility in the world to use its OPUS® technology, a multiple-treatment process that removes contaminants sufficiently to meet the established requirements for discharge. The technology and services provided by Veolia enables the plant’s entire water cycle to be managed in a truly sustainable way, while simultaneously expanding oil production capacity.

Since the plant was commissioned in 2008, Veolia has operated and maintained (O&M) the facility for Chevron.  Under its O&M contract, Veolia provides operations for the plant, which treats a combined 150,000 barrels of produced water daily, and oversees the facility’s maintenance according to an established performance guarantee. Additionally, Veolia provides Chevron with on-site and off-site technical and engineering support to troubleshoot issues, maintain optimal operations, prevent failures and implement processes to help maximize oil production.

RESULT

Veolia’s innovative application of its OPUS® technology – groundbreaking for produced water management – has delivered exceptional value back to Chevron San Ardo. By developing a sustainable solution that allows up to 50,000 barrels per day of produced water for surface discharge and another 75,000 barrels per day for steam generation, Chevron is minimizing its environmental impact on water-stressed California by returning water to the aquifer recharge basins. And by avoiding deep well injection, Chevron has a long-term solution for managing produced water that limits its regulatory risk and supports expanded production activities.

Thanks to Veolia’s expert operations & maintenance staff who run the facility for Chevron, the produced water is consistently treated to levels that allow for surface discharge to replenish local water resources – a critically important factor for oil field operations and their social license to operate in California. With plant operations handled by Veolia and backed by a performance guarantee, Chevron can focus on its core operation of oil production.

By partnering with Veolia, Chevron San Ardo accomplished its objective of achieving a more circular, sustainable and reliable business operation.

Chevron Uses Recycled Water to Boost Production at Aging California Oil Field

Chevron is using a sophisticated water treatment system to clean up produced wastewater at a Southern California oil field and using that recycled water to boost recovery from a previously idled portion of the field – demonstrating along the way that what’s good for the environment can also be good for a company’s bottom line.

The Optimized Pretreatment and Unique Separation (OPUS) system was installed at the San Ardo oil field by water treatment company Veolia a decade ago and the company continues to oversee it today.  The installation is the first of its kind to use the OPUS system as part of a produced water desalination facility and the cleaned up water is either used in steam flooding operations or safely disposed of on the surface.

San Ardo is one of the most prolific fields in California. It was initially discovered in the late 1940s and has been producing for decades. State data shows that it was pumping 21,400 barrels of oil per day in 2015, earning it the designation of being California’s eighth producing oil field. Output has actually been ticking upward annually since the OPUS system was put into place, with state data showing oil output in 2015 was nearly double production of 11,400 b/d recorded in 2008.

To counter natural production declines, the aging field has been using steam flooding since the 1960s to soften the remaining oil and coax it out of the ground.  During this process, large volumes of water rise to the surface that must later be treated and disposed of. In fact, for every barrel of oil produced in 2015, state data show about 15 barrels of water rose to the surface as well – or an average of 328,000 b/d of water per day.   

A case study by Veolia says, “Historically, a portion of this water had been recycled and softened to provide water for steam generation, with the (rest) going to local EPA class II injection wells for disposal. However, the injection zone capacity is limited and that had constrained full field development.”

That’s where to OPUS system comes in to make up the difference and ease water constraints. OPUS cleans up about 50,000 bb/d of water that using a multiple-treatment process that takes out contaminants and removes 92% of total dissolved solids.

With the treated water clean enough for reuse, the limited capacity of the injection wells becomes is less of a limiting factor in operations. The recycled water that is not used to generate steam is clean enough to meet California’s strict effluent discharge requirements and can be released through shallow wetlands into aquifer recharge basins that replenish water resources.

Veolia says the project goal was to reduce the total dissolved solids (TDS) of the feed water to less than 6,500 parts per million (pps), and the boron to less than 0.64 ppm for discharge, while achieving 75% water recovery across the treatment system and minimizing the volume of produced water. “For steam generation, the project goal was to reduce the feed water hardness to less than 2 ppm total hardness as CaCO3,” the case study said.

The system’s daily operations are overseen by Veolia, and Veolia staff also provides onsite and offsite technical and engineering support to troubleshoot issues as they arise. In short, they are responsible for ensuring that optimal function is maintained at the site.

The team displayed noteworthy ingenuity in 2005 and 2008 when a shortage of hydrochloric acid arose after powerful hurricanes pummeled the US Gulf Coast. OPUS uses hydrochloric acid in the regeneration process of the water softeners that are a part of the system. To get around this issue ad keep operations rolling, Veolia staff came up with a different concentration that lowered the field’s reliance on hydrochloric acid.

Indeed, the OPUS system is demonstrating one of the ways that producers can use technology and ingenuity to make their operations more environmentally responsible. To read the full case study on Veolia’s San Ardo project, click here. https://www.veolianorthamerica.com/en/case-studies/san-ardo-refinery

Southern California Refinery Case Study
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UN Report Examines Sustainable Development Goals for Oil & Gas

A comprehensive plan of action for social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic development released by a trio of organizations outlines ways that the oil and gas industry can promote sustainable development.

The report, Mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas, explains how the industry can contribute to the achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in January of 2016. The SDGs address a number of areas, including climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption and justice.

“The overarching aim for businesses in the context of sustainable development should be to do business responsibly—to contribute to society, minimize risks and to do no harm,” according to the report’s executive summary.

The report was jointly released by UNDP, the International Finance Corporation and IPIECA, a global industry association for social and environmental issues in the oil and gas industry. It found that oil and gas companies can help achieve the SDGs by exemplifying good practices and collaborating on sustainable development, among other things.

“Achieving the goals will require partnership and collaboration between and among all sectors and industries. By mapping the linkages between the oil and gas industry and the SDGs, we hope to encourage our clients and partners to further embed the goals into their business and operations and seek out new, innovative ways to contribute to global development,” Bernard Sheahan, the global director of Infrastructure and Natural Resources at IFC, said in a press release.

The report was released last summer at the Sustainable Development Goals Business Forum organized in conjunction with the UN High-Level Political Forum.

The three organizations spend a year preparing the report, and the final product includes consultation and input from the oil and gas industry as well as from civil society, academia and international organizations.

For more information, download the report here.

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