Sustainable and responsible offshore energy production is inextricably linked to correct handling of wastewater. The marine environment needs protection against harmful discharge, and the energy sector must live up to legal requirements as well as the public’s expectations of responsible production. This is an important aspect of the energy transition that sometimes is ignored but deserves more attention.
Protecting the marine environment is therefore the cornerstone of the centre’s wastewater management activities. We work on advanced research and technology development projects aiming at reducing discharges into the ocean with a long-term goal of zero harmful discharge.
The backbone of the activities is the Produced Water Management programme that focuses on how the harmful components in water produced in connection with oil and gas extraction can be handled in the most responsible way. One focus area for the programme is to explore the possibilities of re-injecting produced water rather than discharging it to the sea.
We are also investigating whether environmentally friendly substances (so-called green chemicals) can replace more harmful chemicals used in the offshore industry today. This will help prevent microbial activity, corrosion, and scaling as well as supporting H2S removal. Green chemicals are plant-based substances, which will have some of the functionalities of traditional chemicals but without harming the environment.
The centre is also engaged in a research project that tests biological purification units offshore and underwater. This concept is well-known as a highly efficient method (MBBR technology) to remove harmful components from wastewater in municipal facilities located on land. It will be landmark discovery if and when the method can be used offshore as well.
Other parts of the energy sector such as the wind industry may also face challenges with potential leakage from their offshore facilities, which is another potential extension of our wastewater management activities.
The perspectives extend beyond the current challenges with wastewater from oil and gas production. We are open to dialogue about how our ideas and solutions may be applied in other parts of the energy sector and in other industries.