Veolia Innovates to Improve Water Management for Chevron
Chevron’s San Ardo oil field in Southern California recovers more than 10,000 barrels of heavy oil each day. The oil extraction process generates large volumes of produced water that require treatment and management, typically disposed of by deep well injection. Chevron engaged Veolia’s water treatment technology, engineering, and operations experts to provide a solution for sustainably treating the produced water. This would allow Chevron to minimize its water impact while maximizing efficiency and significantly expanding production.
To achieve this objective, Veolia designed the first produced water facility in the world to use its proprietary OPUS® technology, a multiple-treatment process that removes contaminants sufficiently to meet the established requirements for discharge. In this case, the treated water is used in two ways—it is reused for steam generation, and then released into aquifer recharge basins that replenish local water resources and increase available oil for recovery.
The design for Chevron San Ardo’s produced water treatment process includes a common pretreatment step for free oil removal, followed by Veolia’s proprietary OPUS® technology to achieve the discharge water quality required. The process also uses a Series Softening System for steam generation makeup water.
Since the plant was commissioned in 2008, Veolia has operated and maintained the facility for Chevron. Under its operations and maintenance contract, Veolia provides operations for the plant that treat a combined 150,000 barrels of produced water daily, and oversees the facility’s maintenance according to an established performance guarantee. Additionally, Veolia provides Chevron with on-site and off-site technical and engineering support to troubleshoot issues, maintain optimal operations, prevent failures, and implement processes to help maximize oil production.
Veolia’s innovative application of its OPUS® technology—groundbreaking for produced water management—has delivered exceptional value back to Chevron San Ardo. By developing a sustainable solution that allows up to 50,000 barrels per day of produced water for surface discharge and another 75,000 barrels per day for steam generation, Chevron is minimizing its environmental impact on waterstressed California by returning water to the aquifer recharge basins. And by avoiding deep well injection, Chevron has a long-term solution for managing produced water that limits its regulatory risk and supports expanded production activities.
Thanks to Veolia’s expert operations and maintenance staff who run the facility for Chevron, the produced water is consistently treated to levels that allow for surface discharge to replenish local water resources—a critically important factor for oil field operations and their social license to operate in California. With plant operations handled by Veolia, Chevron can focus on its core operation of oil production.
By partnering with Veolia, Chevron San Ardo accomplished its objective of achieving a more circular, sustainable, and reliable business operation.
[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in From Scarcity to Abundance: Business Solutions for a Water Constrained World.]