Sustainable reuse of oil wastewater for irrigation in drylands
presentationposted on 22.10.2018 by Alban Echchelh
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3 Minute Thesis presented at the Cranfield Doctoral Network Annual Event 2018.
The oil and gas industry generates significant volumes of wastewater termed ‘produced water’. Produced water is usually managed through disposal and discharging techniques which are environmentally and economically costly. A significant share of oil and gas production takes place in water-scarce drylands. Produced water reuse for irrigation offers an alternative to current disposal practices while providing water to farming in drylands. However, the quality of produced water is a limiting factor for the reuse in irrigation as it can lead to soil degradation. The aim of this research is to find out the environmental conditions that determine the level of sustainability of irrigation with produced water in dry areas. A modelling framework combining irrigation simulations with a cost analysis was developed. A soil-water model is used to simulate irrigation in different environments occurring in drylands to assess the impact of irrigation with produced water. Mitigation techniques improving the level of sustainability are also simulated and their costs calculated and compared to conventional disposal techniques. Finally, the framework was applied in a case study to find out the most sustainable irrigation strategies for long-term produced water reuse in a hyper-arid desert. The research revealed that irrigation sustainability mainly depends on produced water quality, soil type and climate aridity. Mitigation strategies such as produced water blending, desalination and soil amendments improve irrigation sustainability at a competitive cost compared to conventional disposal practices. This research identified the boundaries of irrigation sustainability. The modelling framework developed could be used as a decision support tool for stakeholders involved in projects of produced water reuse in irrigation.