New technology to increase oil and gas productivity and improves operators’ environmental footprint

15/01/2024
APS’s Microbubble Infusion Unit (MiFU)

ABERDEEN-headquartered company Adaptive Process Solutions (APS), experts in the flotation method of produced water and fluid separation, has introduced a game changing new product to the market which will help oil and gas producers increase productivity while significantly improving the environmental footprint of their produced water treatments.

APS’s Microbubble Infusion Unit (MiFU) is addressing the industry-wide issue faced by operators of ageing assets and reservoirs to efficiently and effectively clean produced water so that it meets strict regulatory standards before it can be discharged back into the sea.

The APS MiFU is capable of processing between 1,000 and 100,000 barrels of water a day and can remove up to 90% of oil and contaminants from produced water without any need for downstream filtration.

While gas flotation technology is a long-established method of treating produced water – water that is co-produced with crude oil production – its application on many existing oil production facilities has remained unchanged for decades and no longer meets today’s requirements. 

With many ageing reservoirs now producing up to 90 percent water cut with 10 percent oil compared to a ratio of around 10 percent water cut/ 90 percent oil when drilling first commenced, the small separation systems designed to process the smaller volumes of produced water are no longer fit for purpose.

The larger volume of produced water which now has to be processed often creates a bottle neck which slows down oil and gas production.

MiFU’s patented microbubble technology, machinery and processes have been designed as a retrofittable add-on to existing water treatment systems. Configured to achieve optimum removal efficiency for every client, it provides a cost-effective solution with minimal adaptation and without need for expensive shutdowns.

The unique multipass approach injects size and quantity-controlled gas microbubbles into the contaminated water stream, giving superior bubble saturation and variable size range. These attach to the minute particles of oil found in the produced water and bring the contaminated bubbles swiftly to the surface where it is skimmed off by the asset’s separator for export.

Bubbles produced by the existing systems are often too small or too large to capture the oil particles, necessitating the need for an additional filtration system to process the water to meet industry regulations.

MiFU’s high oil capture level replaces the necessity for operators to install additional filtration units, removing the cost, safety hazards and environmental aspect of transporting contaminated filters for onshore disposal.

“MiFU is a novel way of adapting existing technology in response to current requirements,” said Frank Wurpel, APS Director of Engineering & Technology. “It introduces major step-change benefits to the oil and gas industry through significant improvements in the removal of oil and solids and other contaminants from produced water and we know there is currently strong demand for a solution such as this in the North Sea.

“It provides a cleaner, swifter and cost-effective separation process for operators who must meet the BEIS regulatory limits on produced water discharge.

“MiFU is extremely versatile and adaptable and can use any type of gas provided it is soluble. Hazardous Zone 1 certified, it has a small footprint and fits inside a standard offshore container or can be transported on the back of flatbed lorry and is light enough to be airfreighted.  Units can be custom-designed and built to client specification if required or we can rent or sell the kit.”

Prior to the MiFU unit being shipped offshore, produced water samples from assets are laboratory tested offshore during a site survey to ensure compatibility. APS is now working on the design units for onshore sectors such as whisky distilleries, municipal water treatment and wastewater.

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