Research facilitation and management for Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry
Lead PI: Dr Tahir Husain
Subject Category: Health, Safety and the Environment
Start Date: Aug 2005
End Date: Dec 2008
Institution / Organization: Memorial University
Produced water is the highest volume waste generated in association with offshore oil and gas production. Despite treatment before discharge to satisfy regulatory limitations on oil content, produced water contains toxic metals and a certain amount of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) which are difficult to remove before discharge. This makes the assessment of their effects on human health and the environment an important concern to the industry.
This three-year project, led by Memorial University’s Dr. Tahir Husain, focused on the contaminants of concern; the delineation of the produced water discharge impact zone; the development of a risk based approach to evaluate the potential impacts of produced water based on current and future release rates; and the development of instrumentation for “in-situ” monitoring of contaminants around operational platforms.
A new ocean-going autonomous underwater vehicle was used to collect 3-D spatial data from the water column to validate and calibrate ocean environmental monitoring and modeling tools. From this data, leading edge hydrodynamic models of discharge plumes and a risk management tool for environmental assessment of the impacts of produced water discharges were produced.
This research in offshore environmental risk management and decision-making was unique in evaluating risks and costs associated in managing produced water discharges by integrating risk assessment methods with treatment technology and associated costs. As part of the ongoing project objectives, user-friendly decision support software is continuing to be developed, in collaboration with industry partners; and is expected to result in a licensed software product being available in 2009.