Issue Iss 1 2008
Proven technology from M-I EPCON
M-I EPCON AS has developed its own treatment technology especially suitable for removing hydrocarbons, hydrophobic substances, aromatic compounds and small particles from produced water.
This equipment has been developed and tested jointly with oil companies in the North Sea. Today, it is a proven technology in treating produced water and one of the preferred choices for oil operators.
M-I EPCON technologies have been under development for several years. Following the establishment of the business in 1998, the company embarked on a dedicated and focused effort to adapt its separation products to meet the needs of the offshore industry in a cost effective and flexible manner. The spur for this was the recognition that M-I EPCON could provide a highly competitive, environmental solution to treat increasing volumes of produced water in the North Sea.
As a result of this, the patented EPCON Compact Flotation Unit (CFU) was born. Torbjørn Juliussen, marketing director for the business elaborates: “Our EPCON CFU product is for the treatment of produced water and is now one of the preferred treatment options for many oil companies and operators in the industry. The space required for this unit is small and maintenance is minimal due to its lack of moving parts. In addition, the absence of any small inlet or outlet openings prevents blockages in the system.”
He adds: “Furthermore, the system requires no external energy and there is little or no need for adding emulsion breaking chemicals or flocculent to aid the separation effectiveness of the system, therefore saving significant costs.”
M-I EPCON has been fully operational since 2001 as a small company working out of its headquarters in Porsgrunn, Norway. 2006 saw a major period of change for the business when its was taken over by M-I SWACO – a worldwide organisation representing a wide array of businesses involved in drilling, reservoir drill-in and completion fluids, and associated services for the petroleum industry.
Torbjørn comments: “Changing from a small company with only 25 employees to now being part of an international organisation with more than 10,000 employees in 70 countries will of course give us more strength in the international market. M-I SWACO are implementing the EPCON CFU technology into their produced water management business, and this will strengthen our position as a solutions provider in this segment internationally.”
As one of the industry’s most promising markets for the future, the produced water treatment industry offers significant growth opportunities for both EPCON and its new owners, M-I SWACO.
Torbjørn explains: “The volume of produced water is increasing on a worldwide basis mainly due to maturing fields, and is today approximately three times the oil production. The market for water treatment is increasing rapidly and in some areas, a water cut of approximately 90 per cent is already common. Another market driver for the produced water treatment area is the increasingly stringent regulations for the amount of oil allowed in water content.”
For the oil companies, the water handling costs are increasing. This is not only due to increased water volumes, but also because of regulations recommending a zero discharge goal with regards to the maximum allowable hydrocarbon concentration in discharged water. M-I EPCON’s technology is a possible solution for both increasing the oil production and meeting the zero discharge goals.
Although the opportunities within the produced water market provide the company with significant growth prospects, they also present M-I EPCON with many challenges. Torbjørn explains: “The main issue will be to find the right skilled personnel to enable us to meet the growing demand for these kind of environmentally friendly technical solutions.”
M-I EPCON now operates on a global basis and has secured many contracts outside of the North Sea. Torbjørn comments: “A number of the major national oil companies, such as Statoil, Hydro, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, ConocoPhillips and Maersk, are amongst our main customers. The majority of our CFU installations are in the North Sea, but Australia, Canada, China, Qatar, Brazil and West Africa are also areas where our technology has or will be installed.”
He continues: “The main reason for the success of M-I EPCON is our ability to meet our clients’ needs, including custom-made equipment, which is adaptable for differed sized spaces. In addition, we continually undertake exhibitions, conferences and presentations directly to our clients – this has led to the broad recognition of our products and solutions.”
Torbjørn concludes: “M-I EPCON values longterm relationships, and one of our main strategies has been to follow existing clients into new areas around the world where there is a need for our technology. Furthermore, we have a number of research and development projects, which work in close collaboration with our clients. These look at different areas of water treatment and aim to develop new and improved technologies. R&D is of the utmost importance in order to continually meet the markets demands and at the same time stay one step ahead of the competition.”
Products: Water treatment systems