Bureau of Economic Geology

Oil and gas wastewaters: commodities and other constituents affecting reuse

November 18, 2022 9:00 AM


Madalyn S. Blondes, Ph.D.
Supervisory Research Geologist
U.S. Geological Survey


Wherever oil and gas are produced from subsurface rocks, water is the main byproduct. These “produced waters” have a highly variable composition depending on their geologic origin, but in general are significantly saltier than freshwater aquifers, ranging from brackish water to hypersaline brine. At lower salinities, produced waters have the potential for industrial reuse, preserving fresh water for other uses in water-stressed regions. At higher salinities, brines are an increasingly sought-after source of critical minerals such as lithium. At any salinity, their typical origin – as ancient deep porewaters within various sedimentary rocks as they underwent geochemical changes in contact with hydrocarbons – can result in high concentrations of certain constituents such as radium with potential environmental or human health impacts. This presentation will focus on 1) new approaches to quantify the amount of produced water available for reuse based on water chemistry, 2) sourcing commodities in produced waters, and 3) the expected obstacles for commodity recovery or reuse from these distinctive waters.

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University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas

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