Salt Water Pollution Problems in Texas
- Roy D. Payne (Railroad Commission Of Texas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,401 - 1,407
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 2 Well Completion, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing
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The salt water pollution problem is discussed in relation to the fresh water needs of Texas and the present status of the situation. The Railroad Commission program for control is outlined and its record of past and present activity is discussed. The effect of fluid injection and salt water disposal systems on the pollution problem is reviewed and guidelines are submitted for the design, operation and control of salt water injection systems, with emphasis on effectiveness.
Pollution of fresh water supplies is a multi-faceted dilemma. Recent trade publications and news media have dealt with many of the causes in great detail. Table 1 is a generalized outline and review of contributing factors to pollution of fresh water supplies. Water pollution can, in general terms, be divided into two categories: natural and manmade.
Natural Pollution Natural mineral deposits in Texas. primarily chlorides and sulphates, are known to affect the quality of surface waters. The upper watersheds of the Brazos and Colorado rivers and portions of the Red River provide examples of naturally polluted water. Saline content of the water is high enough to make the water distasteful for human consumption and useless for many types of industrial consumption.
There is also a degree of natural pollution caused by animal and plant life. Another source of natural pollution is sedimentation. Soil erosion caused by storms and flood waters can silt up streams so that development of water resources is impeded.
The greatest source of water pollution is man and his related activities. Almost everything that man under, takes contributes either directly or indirectly to the water pollution problem. Three principal sources of man-made pollution are the result of agricultural, municipal and industrial wastes. 1. Farmers have found a number of methods to improve their cropland sprays to control insects, sprays to control unwanted vegetation and fertilizer to improve the soil. Although these materials are highly beneficial to agriculture, they can create serious pollution problems. 2. The primary contaminant in municipal waste is organic matter that comes from two primary sources: effluent discharged from waste treatment facilities and drainage from storm sewers. 3. Industrial wastes are the most difficult to characterize in any general way. Each industrial waste problem is apt to be unique and must be attacked on an individual basis. Both organic and inorganic materials may result from almost any industrial processing operation and combinations are almost endless.
Various types of pollution can occur as a result of drilling and production operations on any oil and gas property. Because the Railroad Commission deals only with pollution problems resulting from operations of oil and gas properties, this article will deal primarily with this aspect. It is not inferred that pollution to fresh water supplies from oilfield operations is due to any general lack of responsibility by the oil industry; it is usually due to compounding circumstances that were not suspected or could not have been predicted. The Railroad Commission has been aware for several years that a problem does exist. The industry's awareness of the problem is best illustrated by a resolution adopted by the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association in Sept., 1963, stating that association's general policy on the pollution problem.
TABLE 1-COMMON CAUSES OF POLLUTION TO FRESH WATER
Natural 1. Formation outcrops (gypsum, Limestone, etc.) 2. Animal and plant
Man-made 1. Industry a. Mining b. Manufacturing and processing c. Transportation
2. Agriculture a. Insecticides b. Fertilizers c. Erosion
3. Municipal a. Sewage b. Refuse
4. Oil and Gas a. Drilling b. Production improperly cementing surface and production casing Disposal of salt water in pits Poorly engineered injection systems old unplugged wells in waterflood projects c. Abandoned wells improperly plugged
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