ABB process makes oily wastewater clean again

ABB has developed a revolutionary water treatment technology that cleans oily wastewater – by far the largest waste product in oil and gas production - quickly, cost-effectively and energy-efficiently, ready for discharge with zero environmental impact.

By ABB Communications

Developed on behalf of a leading national oil and gas company, the solution is installed at three oil and gas fields in North Africa where it has achieved some remarkable results and exceeded the customer’s targets in terms of the quality of water treated and released as effluent.

Oily wastewater, also known as produced water, is brought to the surface from underground formations during oil and gas production. It is by far the largest source of waste produced by the oil and gas industry, and its management presents considerable challenges and costs to operators.

About seven to ten barrels of produced water are generated for each barrel of oil. The water can be highly toxic and typically contains oil, grease and other hydrocarbons, as well as high levels of salts, metals and trace elements.

Compared to the existing technologies for treating produced water, the ABB solution has proved more effective not only in terms of process results but in critical areas like cost, energy efficiency, footprint, speed of installation and ease of operation.


Water before, during and after treatment at one of the ABB de-oiling plants.
Developed and patented by ABB, the process has exceeded the customer’s specifications for hydrocarbon content and suspended solid concentration in the outlet water by seven and 55 times respectively.

This is a huge improvement in the results of alternative water treatment methods that are currently used by the oil and gas industry, and is thought to be the only treatment method that meets the rigorous requirements of proposed European legislation on produced water.

Other benefits of the solution include compact footprint, the use of chemicals that can easily be produced on site using inexpensive base ingredients, ease of installation (it is built on skids and then transported to the site for installation and commissioning), and ease of operation (it uses standard equipment and requires no complex skills or operator experience).

The solution also saves energy through its compact footprint, minimal use of chemicals and innovative use of gravity.

For more information contact Marco Apicella - Process Automation Division Italy - APS Local Business Unit manager

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    A patented ABB process cleans oily and often toxic water - a byproduct of oil and gas production - exceeds customer specifications for hydrocarbon content and suspended solid concentration.

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