Produced water is a byproduct brought to the surface during oil and gas exploration and production. Sometimes it is called formation water, brine, or saltwater. It is typically brackish and comes from underground formations, either from zones adjacent to the oil and gas, or from the same zone as the hydrocarbons. In some oil and gas operations, the produced water results from injecting clean water into oil reservoirs to force production from wells.

Whether the produced water exists in the underground formation or results from injection, it has some of the chemical characteristics of the formation, the hydrocarbon being extracted, as well as the chemicals added during the extraction and treatment processes. Produced water is actually the largest volume byproduct from oil and gas exploration and extraction. Worldwide, billions of gallons of produced water are generated each day.

A wide variety of technologies are employed in treating the produced water. The method of separating the hydrocarbons from the water must give results that comply with environmental regulations. The cost of treating, disposing and monitoring produced water is a major factor in the profitability of operations.

Before the treated water can be returned to the environment, the company extracting oil or gas must analyze the hydrocarbon content of the water. For example, the standard for U.S. offshore operations is to reduce the hydrocarbon content of effluent water—or liquid waste—to 29 mg/l. Onshore effluent cannot be disposed of in surface waters and often requires injection into saltwater disposal wells. With proper treatment and reduced hydrocarbon content, onshore effluent is sometimes recycled for fracking or re-injection.

Turner Designs Hydrocarbon Instruments (TDHI) offers both grab sample oil in water analyzers and continuous oil in water monitors for a variety of industries and applications. Whether sampling for crude and other heavy oils or for gas condensates, TDHI’s UV fluorescence-based instruments deliver fast, dependable measurements for treated produced water and are capable of measuring hydrocarbon content as low as 10 ppb (µ/L).

Visit the TDHI Products page to see the full line of UV fluorescent analyzers and monitors for measuring oil content in produced water. TDHI also offers analyzers and monitors for a wide variety of other industrial applications subject to regulatory compliance.