UK firm’s new technology pans out in trials on North Sea FPSO

The UK player claims that its patented technology, combined with a compatible production chemical, produced nearly five times less oil in water during six-month trials conducted on an FPSO operating in the North Sea.In addition to achieving the required outcome for the client, the company believes that its technology brought a step change improvement for a wider industry dealing with increasing OiW levels in produced water.

As the MiFU was designed as a retrofittable add-on to existing water treatment systems, it was adapted for the conditions at the asset.APS’ Managing Director, Paul McAlister, said the MiFU was developed to address the industry-wide issue faced by oil and gas operators to efficiently and effectively clean produced water so that it meets regulatory standards before being discharged back into the sea, adding that he was proud of his company for coming up with “world-leading environmental technology.”

McAlister noted: “This is a notoriously challenging problem for operators. The North Sea is a mature oil and gas province and the industry discharges millions of tons of water into the sea each year. This is exacerbated because the existing separation systems were designed to process smaller volumes of produced water resulting in a bottle neck that slows production.

“Our technology can also head off the challenges encountered by FPSO operators when they can no longer rely on additional ‘slop tank’ separation in heavy seas, as a fallback to meet demand. In both cases, MiFU boosts overall environmental performance and productivity.”

The MiFU implements a patented multi-pass process that injects size and quantity-controlled gas microbubbles directly into target points in a contaminated water stream. The bubbles attach to minute particles of oil and fine solids in the produced water which can then be removed using the asset’s existing separator process.

This enables the MiFU to process 1,000–100,000 barrels of water per day, reducing up to 90% of oil and contaminants. Furthermore, as the company claims that no additional waste stream is generated, the need for further downstream filtration and material management is eliminated.

The UK player, which is starting the construction of a second MiFU rental skid, is anticipating a rise in the number of employees to 20 in response to new business inquiries from the North Sea, Norway, West Africa, the Gulf of Mexico, and Brazil.

While some oil and gas companies, such as Aker BP, already use similar technologies, more effort across the industry is needed to keep up with the increasingly stricter environmental regulations aimed at preventing environmental issues, such as the spill recently spotted off the coast of Huntington Beach, California.