Markets for Produced Water Treatment Equipment Outside North America


This report on Markets for Produced Water Treatment Equipment Outside North America provides:

  • An overview of markets outside North America for produced water treatment equipment
  • Analyses of market trends, with data from 2011, estimates for 2012, and projections of compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) through 2017
  • Review and comparison of treatment technologies for removing salts and other inorganic compounds, including membrane processes, ion exchange, and thermal distillation; and removing oil, grease, and other organic compounds, including mechanical separation, flotation, and adsorption
  • Discussion of regulatory and other market drivers in oil- and gas-producing regions
  • Examination of produced water contaminants and waste types most in need of treatment
  • Company profiles of leading produced water treatment equipment manufacturers.

Until renewable, sustainable sources are fully developed, the demand for fossil fuels will continue to grow.  According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) most recent World Energy Outlook, the production of conventional crude oil, the largest single component of the global oil supply, will remain at current levels before declining slightly, to 68 million barrels per day, by 2035.  To offset declining production at existing fields, 47 million barrels per day of additional gross capacity are required.  This volume is twice the current total oil production of all Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in the Middle East.  A growing share of this output (10 million barrels per day) will come from unconventional sources.

The IEA forecasts a bright future, even a golden age, for natural gas, especially for so-called unconventional gas such as shale gas and coal bed methane.  Unconventional gas now accounts for 50% of the estimated natural gas resource base.  By 2035, unconventional gas is predicted to rise to 20% of total gas production, although the pace of development will vary considerably by region.  The growth in output also will depend on the gas industry dealing successfully with the environmental challenges.  “A golden age of gas,” says the IEA, “will require golden standards for production.”

The demand for carbon-based energy is a major market driver for products and services used to treat the water produced during oil and gas exploration and production (E&P).  Produced water, the effluent that rises to the surface during E&P, includes naturally occurring water in energy deposits and water injected into formations during drilling processes.

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Produced water comprises approximately 98% of the total waste volume generated by the industry.  Current global E&P activities generate more than 115 billion barrels per year of produced water.  For every barrel of oil, an average of three barrels of water is produced.  In the U.S., the water-to-oil ratio (WOR) averages  eight barrels of water to one of oil.  On average, for every barrel of oil currently recovered, eight barrels of wastewater are also generated.  During the next 15 years, the water to oil ratio is forecast to increase from 8:1 to 12:1.  In the worst cases, the WOR reaches 50:1.  To dispose of produced water, energy companies pay from $3 per barrel to as much as $12 per barrel.  With the need to manage such large water volumes, the oil and gas production industry has become as much about water as it is about energy.

In addition to large water volumes and high disposal costs, energy developers using traditional produced water practices are facing increased opposition from environmental activists, local and state governments, and the public.  These groups are concerned that the water is leaking from traditional containment pits and entering groundwater and surface water bodies.  Historically, produced water has been contained temporarily in pits, and then either transported to treatment plants or evaporated.

During a producing oil well’s lifecycle, it initially produces oil along with a small amount of water; but, over time, the percentage of water increases.  Throughout the well’s service life, the produced water must be separated from the oil it contains.  Following treatment, the water may be handled via one of three methods: safely discharged (used mainly in offshore applications), re-injected into the hydrocarbon formation (used in onshore, coastal, or environmentally-sensitive areas) or reused (either to maintain reservoir pressure and enhance heavy oil production or in other beneficial applications).  In most world regions and for all of the end uses/disposal options, treated water quality must meet certain standards including low toxicity, high biodegradability, and low potential for bioaccumulation in the food chain.

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A number of water treatment technologies and equipment types are commercially available for use at the oil or gas production site.  These processes can reduce the cost, inefficiency, and risk associated with treatment pits and the transport of toxic water.  The treatment technologies include methods for de-oiling, de-sanding, desalinating, and disinfecting produced water.  Numerous systems types are on the market.  Among the choices are separators; hydrocyclones; distillation-, ion exchange-, adsorbent- and membrane-based units; as well as proprietary equipment and combinations of equipment.

Some of these products and technologies enable the treatment of produced water to a quality suitable for beneficial reuse.  Presently, most of the water reused is employed for reinjection in enhanced oil recovery operations.  However, there is also future potential for recycling the water in agriculture or a new source of municipal or industrial water supply, especially where water scarcity is an issue.


This report is intended to provide an in-depth analysis of the market for produced water treatment equipment.  The study examines market value by world region, by equipment type, and by offshore versus onshore use.  The world regions discussed are: the Americas, North America (the U.S., Canada, and Mexico), and Central and South America; Europe, the Asia-Pacific region; and the Middle East and Africa.

The market evaluation by equipment type looks at produced water treatment systems within three broad categories: primary and secondary treatment oil separation equipment (minimizes oil in water content to 25 parts per million [ppm] to 30 ppm), tertiary treatment equipment (further reduces oil in water to less than 10 ppm), and advanced treatment (processes for desalinating produced water and enabling zero liquid discharge).

In the market analysis by hydrocarbon resource, value and growth are evaluated for equipment used in treating produced water from conventional oil and gas production and the development of unconventional resources, such as tight oil, oil sands bitumen, shale gas, and coal bed methane.  (For the purposes of this report, tight gas, natural gas that is difficult to access because of the nature of the rock and sand surrounding the deposit, is included in conventional resources.)

Because regulations governing offshore versus onshore produced water discharge differ, the equipment market also is evaluated by that parameter.  In addition, the two markets are growing at different rates and are propelled by somewhat different drivers.

Technical and market drivers are considered in evaluating the current value of the technologies and in forecasting growth and trends over the next five years.  The conclusions are illustrated with a wealth of statistical information on markets, applications, industry structure, and dynamics along with technological developments.

Because of the diverse and somewhat fragmented nature of the produced water treatment industry, it is difficult to find studies that gather such extensive data from such far-flung resources into one comprehensive document.  This report contains a unique collection of information, analyses, forecasts and conclusions that are very hard or impossible to find elsewhere.


Global population growth and economic expansion are driving energy demand, while simultaneously driving significant increases in the demand for water.  The challenge of meeting these demands is intensified by the nexus between water and energy.  Large volumes of water are consumed to produce and generate energy, while vast amounts of energy are used to treat and distribute clean water.  Furthermore, there is growing competition for water from the municipal, agricultural, and industrial sectors, which exacerbates the mounting problem of global water scarcity.  These issues pose a significant business risk to oil and gas companies seeking to achieve sustainable growth.

Major water-related challenges facing the oil and gas sector are mature oilfields that increasingly require water-based enhanced oil recovery methods and produce more water over time; growing exploration and production complexity due to emerging unconventional hydrocarbon resources, with their large water needs; and greater environmental and regulatory pressures related to water management and scarcity.

For these reasons, oil and gas companies must view reevaluate water as a strategic element in their value chain.  Water no longer is solely an environmental issue, but is increasingly tied to production growth and cost.  As a result, it must be handled through a strategy that recognizes its status as a critical component to ongoing viability in the oil and gas sector.

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This report is designed to be of value to a wide array of readers.  Those expected to have the greatest interest are players already active in oil and gas production and/or produced water treatment.  The study will be of value to startup companies with novel water treatment technology, especially for the hydraulic fracturing sector, since that market is still emerging and has no dominant players.  Oilfield services businesses should find the report useful for its overview of treatment technologies, which include performance data, as well as capital and operating cost information.

It should be of interest to venture investors, entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurial companies interested in entering or expanding into the produced water treatment sector.  Other public and private sector interest groups, market analysts, and general readers wishing to gain broader knowledge of the dynamics of the produced water treatment equipment market also are expected to find the report worthwhile.


The scope of this report is focused on global produced water treatment equipment for the oil and gas industry.  The market is broken down by several different parameters, including world region, equipment type, and produced water source; and offshore/onshore application.

There are a number of expenses related to produced water management, including expenditures for services and equipment for downhole water minimization, for lifting water to the surface, for treatment, for reinjection, and for hauling and offsite disposal.  This report will evaluate only oil and gas sector purchases for treatment equipment.

The study covers the industry on a worldwide basis in terms of the manufacture and deployment of treatment systems.  BCC examines government roles in support of global markets, including regulatory support, government requirements, and promotional incentives for various technologies as relevant and available.


Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this report.  Research for this technical/marketing report began with an analysis of available technical and business literature related to sludge treatment.  Conversations with industry experts and company representatives provide the backbone for the analysis.

Capital equipment expenditure estimates are based on anticipated future treatment capacity, existing and expected regulatory standards, and alterna­tives for disposing of oil and gas field wastewater.

Both primary and secondary research methods were used in this research study.  Internet, literature and patent searches were undertaken, and key industry participants were queried.  Growth rates for each market were calculated based on expected revenues from sales of process equipment during the forecast period.  Values and forecasts are given in current U.S. dollars.  Construction, engineering and design costs are excluded from market size calculations.


During the past 16 years, Susan Hanft has authored more than 35 market research reports for BCC Research in the fields of membrane technology, water and wastewater treatment, and separations used in food and beverage manufacture, medicine, and biotechnology.

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