News
14 september 2015

Fighting resource scarcity, one battle at a time

Big problems call for big ambitions. With the planet confronted by global warming, world hunger, exploding urbanization and resource scarcity, Veolia’s newly adopted mission description, “Resourcing the World,” seems appropriately scaled.

San Ardo
Big problems call for big ambitions. With the planet confronted by global warming, world hunger, exploding urbanization and resource scarcity, Veolia’s newly adopted mission description, “Resourcing the World,” seems appropriately scaled.

The global tagline reflects the company’s determination to help break society’s resource consumption dependency and switch to a sustainable use-and-recover approach. The performance-improving solutions Veolia delivers to its customers provide access to needed resources while at the same time preserving and replenishing them.

Not that the company plans to respond to all of the planet’s challenges all at once. “Rethinking our relationship with resources and creating new, more efficient, better balanced and more sustainable growth models is an ongoing commitment,” says Veolia Water Technologies Senior Executive Vice President, Klaus Andersen. “It’s a campaign we fight one battle at a time, project by project, delivering solutions that can then be leveraged throughout the world.”
 

On the front lines: water scarcity

The combination of resource stewardship with performance improvement is visible in Veolia’s ability to help fulfill the needs of industrial customers for one of the earth’s vital but increasingly stressed resources: water.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that 1.5 billion people today live in areas seriously affected by water scarcity with that number projected to increase to almost 4 billion by 2050, absent adoption of more sustainable practices.

As water is increasingly a global environmental and humanitarian challenge, access and use of the resource is becoming a major issue for many industrial customers. Veolia’s ability to deliver sustainable solutions that protect water resources is a real competitiveness driver.

This is a priority particularly evident in the dynamic energy area, as illustrated through some recently completed projects.

Enabling sustainable oilfield expansion
 

The plant is designed to process 66,700 barrels per day of produced water 

OPUS® II streamlines pretreatment through the use of CeraMem® ceramic membranes to improve oil removal.

In the San Ardo Field in Monterey County, California, Chevron needed a solution for its water needs to enable increased oil production. The 2,500-acre field is the 13th largest oil field in the state, with an estimated ultimate oil recovery of 530 million barrels. Chevron’s oil production had been declining in recent years, due to limited capacity for disposing of the produced water that comes to the surface as part of the oil and gas extraction process. The challenge for producing the remaining heavy oil was to remove the excess water from the reservoir, which can range from 10 to 20 times the oil production rate.

Working with Chevron, Veolia designed and built a new membrane-based water desalination facility to allow a portion of the produced water to be treated and discharged to a shallow fresh water aquifer (pictured left). The project, commissioned in October 2007, was the first produced water desalination facility in the world to use Veolia’s OPUS® technology, which has proven to be a reliable and robust process for successfully treating produced water for surface discharge. OPUS® combines high-rate chemical softening, with filtration, ion exchange and reverse osmosis.

The plant is designed to process 66,700 barrels per day of produced water with a recovery factor of 75%, translating into an effluent treated water rate of 50,000 barrels per day. The multiple-treatment process is effective in removing contaminants to meet the requirements for beneficial reuse discharge to aquifer recharge basins via post-treatment constructed wetlands.

The implementation of the OPUS® water reclamation technology / desalination allowed Chevron to meet its water needs with recycled water and expand its current area of steam-enhanced production into idled, previously developed portions of the field.

In more recent development for oil and gas application, OPUS® II streamlines pretreatment through the use of CeraMem® ceramic membranes to improve oil removal.
 

Helping to ensure clean oil sands development

In Alberta’s Athabasca region, Veolia is helping independent oil and gas exploration production company Devon Energy Corporation conserve water resources and reduce the footprint of producing oil from oil sands. Veolia’s Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) is enabling Devon to produce up to 35,000 barrels per day of bitumen at its Jackfish 2 Project, where total recoverable reserves are estimated at over 300 million barrels.

Devon needed a solution that is robust, compact, easy to install and simple to maintain to separate oil and gas from water and other waste. Veolia’s response included the design, engineering, fabrication and supply of a full size AUTOFLOT® Model AHP280 Induced Gas Flotation (ISF) unit. The unit separates oil from produced water or other oily water streams. Hydrophobic particles attaches to the small gas bubbles added into a mixture of oil, fine solids and water. These particles float to the surface as a froth and are skimmed into a launder. The introduction of gas is performed by an eductor, which uses effluent as its motive fluid, provided by one of the two recirculation pumps located on a companion skid package.

With the use of Veolia’s proprietary filtering and separating technology, it is helping improve access to resources by Devon in recycling and reusing the water required in the SAGD process. Based upon the successful integration of the ISF on Jackfish 2, Devon also asked Veolia to provide a second ISF unit for its Jackfish 3 project.
 

Long-running commitment
 

While projects such as these underline how technology solutions can help drive new behaviors, it’s not a new role for Veolia. For over 160 years, Veolia has been helping cities and industries worldwide manage, optimize and make the most of their water resources. ‘Resourcing the World’ simply captures this commitment and better communicates the company’s determination to be part of the solution to the natural resource challenges it faces.

A mission the company is obviously tackling with passion and enthusiasm...one battle at a time.