Management of produced water discharges based on environmental risk

Produced waste water is in some cases discharged from offshore oil and gas platforms. New OSPAR regulations demand management of those discharges based on environmental risk. Wageningen Marine Research provided a practical implementation for the operators.

In 2012 OSPAR adopted the so-called Risk-Based Approach for the management of produced water discharges. This approach is a method that prioritises mitigating measures, focussing on components in the discharged water that poses the greatest environmental risk.

Guidelines for the implementation of this approach are provided by the competent authorities in the Netherlands. However, the operators favoured more practical guidelines and assistance. Therefore, Wageningen Marine Research was asked to assist in this process with a project that consisted of three parts:

  1. Executing whole effluent toxicity tests, in which the toxicity of the discharged effluent was tested under laboratory conditions in accordance with all requirements from the competent authorities.
  2. Performing risk-calculations, based on both the whole effluent tests and on the chemical characterisation of the discharged water.
  3. Writing a practical handbook guiding the operators through the process of the risk-based approach step-by-step.

The results of this project were used by the operators to report to the competent authorities, conform the risk-based approach, and to inform OSPAR.

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