Capstone Title

The Effect of Produced Water on the Marine Environment and Alternative Disposal Methods

Defense Date

1996

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Second Advisor

Bart Baca

Third Advisor

Curtis Burney

Abstract

The Arabian Gulfs eight major oil producing countries produce more than 22% of the world's oil. More than 40-60% of the global marine transport of oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, Oman, and Iran (Abercrombie, 1988; and Reynolds, 1993). The oil pollution from oil spills in the Arabian Gulf is 47 times higher than the average estimated for other marine environments of similar size. In addition, the hot and saline environment of the Arabian Gulf puts the marine organisms under stress without any oil spill. Therefore, adding potential long term pollution such as produced water to the Arabian Gulf should be investigated.

The main objective of this paper is to evaluate the adverse effects of produced water on the marine environment. In addition, laboratory and field test techniques and results will be reviewed and discussed. Alternative methods of disposal will also be discussed. The information from this paper will be used as a foundation to establish toxicity tests for the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) to evaluate the impacts of produced water, in both the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, from oil operations. Saudi Aramco has only one oil field in the Arabian Gulf which is generating produced water. Until now, the main solution for disposal has been injection into the oil reservoir. However, this method of disposal may cause contamination of potable ground water, which should be protected especially in these arid countries, or it may cause problems to other oil fields which may damage future oil exploration (Koren and Nadav, 1994). One of the possible solutions for disposing produced water is discharging it into the marine environment. This and other available solutions will be discussed.

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