Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Environmental Impacts Associated with Disposal of Saline Water Produced During Petroleum Production - Osage-Skiatook Petroleum Environmental Research Project [Completed]
Pumping oil and gas out of the ground also produces large volumes of water with undesirable quality known as produced water. Produced water commonly contains large amounts of dissolved salts, hydrocarbons, trace metals, and radionuclides. The United States produces 20 to 30 billion barrels of produced water every year. Much of the produced water is recycled by injecting it into the subsurface to maintain the pressure of oil reservoirs, which enhances oil recovery. An estimated 35 percent of produced water requires disposal because it cannot be recycled.
To address these concerns the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) initiated a multidisciplinary investigation to determine the fate and effects of the disposal of produced water on the near-surface environment. The investigation was a joint project of the USGS's Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and the Energy Resources Program, along with their partners. Field studies were conducted at Skiatook Lake in the southeastern part of the Osage Indian Reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. Results from the investigation helped provide some of the information environmental officials, land managers, petroleum companies, and land owners need to assess human and ecosystem impacts and to develop risk-based corrective actions to clean up contamination from produced water.
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