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Petrobras to use GE’s seawater sulphate removal nanofiltration membrane

16th September 2015

With the upstream oil and gas sector seeking new water treatment technologies as companies move into deeper waters, GE has announced Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras has approved GE’s new seawater sulphate removal (SWSR) nanofiltration membrane for use in water injection applications regarding sulphate removal.

GE’s seawater sulphate removal (SWSR) nanofiltration membrane
GE’s seawater sulphate removal (SWSR) nanofiltration membrane

The decision came after GE performed a pilot study of the SWSR membrane based on Petrobras specifications. The Petrobras endorsement is a significant one for GE as well as the broader oil and gas industry as upstream companies look to Petrobras as the leader in deploying enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and sulfate reducing unit (SRU) technologies.

GE’s SWSR membrane removes sulfate to drastically reduce scale and corrosion in the injection well, which can reduce oil recovery and plug the well. It also has exceptional fouling resistance due to its three-layer membrane design and smooth surface. It can be optimized for use in seawater while providing superior hydrodynamics, resulting in longer membrane life.

For example, GE’s new SWSR membrane significantly exceeded Petrobras’ required sulfate removal threshold of 99.5 percent with reported removal levels exceeding 99.8 percent.

Petrobras verified the technical quality and high performance of GE’s new SWSR membrane, based on the high sulfate rejection (above 99.5 percent). This was evaluated during a five-month pilot of assisted operation with 8” elements, each 440 square feet, where it reached and even surpassed Petrobras’ standard for this qualification.

GE introduced its SWSR membrane in May 2015 at OTC 2015 in Houston. The membrane positions GE as the only company to offer chemicals and membranes for the Brazilian and global SRU markets, providing operators with a single source of contact for chemicals, membranes and services.

“Petrobras’ endorsement reflects the upstream sector’s demand for more effective technologies that can help protect production equipment as companies venture into deeper, more challenging production conditions,” said Yuvbir Singh, general manager, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “Offshore oil producers use injection water to flood the field and force oil to the producing wells, but if the water is of poor quality, it causes scale and hydrogen sulfide that plugs and sours the field. Our pilot study for Petrobras shows the SWSR membrane provides operators with excellent sulfate removal and minimizes scale formation to help them optimize production.”

The new SWSR series is an advancement of GE's DK series nanofiltration membrane and provides a high transmission of sodium chloride into the permeate water to minimize operating pressures. It also offers a physical barrier for any suspended particles including bacteria, pyrogens and colloids.
GE’s new membrane can be retrofitted into existing systems or used in new systems. Additionally, GE offers membrane cleaning and process chemistries used on different platforms and floating platforms worldwide. The new SWSR membrane also can be used in conjunction with GE’s existing reverse osmosis membranes in order to provide water for low salinity flooding, polymer flooding and other EOR methods.

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