Produced water treatment

Produced water treatment for oil and gas exploration
Produced water treatment plant in desertic area


Veolia Water Technologies provides oil and gas operators with customized treatment solutions to manage large volumes of produced water either for injection, reuse or disposal, complying with strict local environmental regulations and ensuring high performance rates. 


The extraction of oil and gas is intrinsically associated with the co-production of water emerging from the underground formation. When the mixture comes through the well and above ground, it is separated into oil, gas and produced water.

As a well ages and becomes more mature, produced water volumes increase and oil becomes more difficult to remove, which prompts the use of enhanced recovery techniques such as water flooding or steam injection into the reservoirs to help force the oil out to the surface. Over time, both formation and injected water eventually make their way to the top, requiring economical and environmentally friendly methods of treatment so it can be reused or safely disposed of.
For oil and gas developers and operators, the challenges of finding hydrocarbons is only the first one as the increasing requirements of compliance with environmental legislation are coupled with the need to improve efficiency and reliability, and achieve maximum operating performance.

Produced water is not only hot and rich in dispersed, emulsified and dissolved oil, it also has high concentrations of suspended silica (e.g., sand, silt, etc.) and high salinity caused by the presence of dissolved ions of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and sulfate. Additionally, it can also frequently contain naturally occurring radioactive elements such as radium.
Because the composition of produced water is so complex and variable, today’s growing challenges in oil and gas production are related to produced water treatment and the selection of the most suitable technologies that achieve consistent effluent quality levels determined by the final purpose of the water.

How Veolia’s produced water treatment systems help oil and gas clients

We offer a variety of technologies for produced water treatment as well as the expertise to determine the best solution for each application.
Depending on water characteristics, required treated water quality and discharge requirements, our systems are custom-designed to meet the unique needs of your project site.
Our lab and pilot testing capabilities are a valuable resource to confirm design parameters that the system or process will perform as specified.

Discover the options to manage produced water treatment

Produced water discharge - a sustainable alternative to disposal

Today, upwards of 70% of all produced water generated in upstream oil and gas is disposed of by injection into saltwater disposal (SWD) wells. However, as operators have come under greater pressure to reduce the environmental impact of their production activities, it is necessary to minimize SWD injection volumes. Treatment of produced water for discharge provides an attractive alternative solution for the disposal of produced water. 
Produced water discharge solutions enable upstream operators to minimize liquid waste injection volumes and optimize field development by lowering the risk of overwhelming SWD well capacity. 
But safely treating produced water, so that it can be safely discharged into the surrounding ecosystem, does not come without challenges. Tightening environmental regulations, coupled with the need to maintain low capital and operating costs, means operators need an experienced produced water treatment partner they can trust.
We offer a broad range of treatment solutions and service models to help oil and gas producers safely and cost-effectively discharge their produced water into local watersheds.
Regardless of whether the water is being used for fracking, steamflooding or enhanced oil recovery (EOR), we can provide a tailored treatment solution to meet your discharge or reuse objectives. Our patented technologies can help meet various national and international threshold limits by removing constituents.
Treatment of produced water for discharge could require the removal of:

  • Dispersed and/or dissolved hydrocarbons.
  • Particulates (TSS).
  • Scale formers (hardness, iron, barium).
  • Dissolved salts (TDS, sodium, chloride, boron).
  • Dissolved gases (ammonia, VOCs, H2S). 

Depending on the produced water quality, we can offer customized treatment solutions involving membrane (reverse osmosis) or thermal (evaporator, crystallizer) based desalination solutions with necessary pretreatment and post-treatment processes for compliance with the local environmental regulations for discharge. 
Our technology solutions can be offered in flexible commercial models, either as a project-financed turnkey service solution (cost/barrel) or customer-owned facility. Both models are offered with long-term operation and maintenance services, including performance guarantees, depending on operator requirements.

Produced water reuse

Having an experienced water management partner is critical to ensuring successful water reuse applications. Our goal is to minimize your operational costs and lease operating expenses by maximizing water reuse, recovering valuable resources such as fresh water, and minimizing induced seismicity. We thereby guarantee:

  • Long-term quality.
  • Quantity.
  • Availability.
  • Maintenance performance.

Patented processes provide cost-effective solutions backed by our operation and maintenance services to provide a 24/7 performance guarantee.
Our portfolio of technologies help producers by minimizing or reducing:

  • Injection volumes.
  • Fresh water demand.
  • Water disposal costs.
  • Frac completion costs.
  • Lease operating expenses.

Supporting oil and gas clients to boost their produced water treatment systems 

Recycled water for more efficient oil extraction.

Tatweer Petroleum, the company in charge of the development of Bahrain fields, wanted treatment facilities for the produced water from its oil fields in order to re-inject it into the wells through high-pressure pumps.

We helped the client to achieve this and also boosted their performance thanks to a three phase separator, oil pumps, wastewater handling, associated chemicals facility, high pressure pumps and two Veolia technologies (Whittier AutoFlot™ and PowerClean™). 

Would you like more information about our technologies for produced water?


Produced water treatment becomes a greater challenge due to more stringent requirements imposed by authorities and therefore requires tailor made solutions. However, in order to be cost effective, these solutions need to be composed of standard blocks, which can be offered by Veolia.

Jeroen Boom picture

Jeroen Boom

Sales Director MPPE & TiPSS
Veolia Water Technologies

Contact Jeroen through his LinkedIn account

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FAQ about produced water treatment

How can produced water be treated?

Depending on both the produced water characteristics and the treated water requirements, the process line-up of the produced water treatment can vary significantly. The necessary equipment may consist of a single cyclone to remove dispersed oil or a line up of unit operations to remove dissolved gasses like H2S, dispersed oil, TSS, dissolved hydrocarbons and even dissolved salts. We can optimize the produced water treatment scheme on the basis of the project constraints by implementing state-of-the-art hydrocarbon removal technologies.

Is produced water treatment costly?

Depending on factors like the level of treatment that is required, the capacity and local circumstances, the costs expressed as US$/barrel may vary over an order of magnitude. For course oil removal, costs can be below 0.5 US$/barrel; however, for more advanced treatment systems, this may rise to values above 2 US$/barrel. We can optimize the costs of the treatment in terms of CAPEX, OPEX or LCC.

What regulations apply for discharge of produced water to sea?

Regulations differ from one region to another and may change over time. In some cases 30 parts per million (ppm) dispersed oil-in-water is applicable, but in some cases there are additional requirements that could include dissolved fractions in produced water, examples are Australia and Brazil. We can support you in your discussions with authorities by indicating what is feasible in terms of treatment and what the associated costs are.

What is oil-water separation?

Oil-water separation is the process of separating oil and water into separate components. For this application, oil-water separator technologies are used to treat a variety of contaminants including free-floating oil, suspended solids and emulsified oil. 

What are the benefits of oil-water separation?

The use of oil-water separation to treat produced water and oily wastewater provides a number of key benefits:

  • Conserves the environment by preventing the contamination of water and soil. 
  • Promotes water reuse and reinjection
  • Reduces disposal costs.
  • Enhances oil recovery.

Technical resources

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