USGS - science for a changing world

Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Photo Gallery

Environmental Impacts Associated with Disposal of Saline Water Produced During Petroleum Production

A oil production tank battery and adjacent unlined brine pit.
An active production tank battery and adjacent unlined brine pit at site B on the shores of Skiatook Lake, Okla. The brine pit receives water co-produced with oil, which is pumped from the pit and disposed of. Occasional overflows due to pump failures have created a salt scar, which extends from the pit to the lake. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

An oil tank battery with brine pit in foreground. Brine pit has a sheen of oil on it.
In addition to produced water (brine) the brine pit at site B also receives oil from broken pipes and tank leaks. All the produced fluids (oil and water) at the site are collected and separated in the tank battery adjacent to the brine pit.

A salt scars and salt impacted soils.
A multidisciplinary team of USGS scientists is developing methods to assess salt scars, such as this one at Site B, by Skiatook Lake, Okla., and salt impacted soils. The information from such assessments is needed to assess the extent of contamination and the cost of remediation. Photo Credit: David W. Morganwalp, USGS.

A view of Site B. Salt scars extend from the tank battery on the left to the edge of the lake.
Site B is an active oil production field on the shores of Skiatook Lake, Okla. USGS scientists are studying the fate and effects of the past disposal and recent spills of produced water at the site. Salt scars extend from the tank battery on the left to the edge of the lake.

An oil pump jack.
Site B is a small but active oil production site with several pump jacks like this one. A multidisciplinary team of USGS scientists and their partners are studying the long-term and short-term effects of hydrocarbons and the constituents of produced water on the local environment a two sites (A and B) on the shores of Skiatook Lake, Okla.

Salt scar area below the brine pit .
Salt scar area below the brine pit at Site B's active tank battery. The salt scar had been remediated and revegetated in November 1999; however, most of the grasses have since died and erosion has started again. Skiatook Lake, Okla., can be seen in the background.

A salt scar that extends from a brine pit in foreground to lake in background.
USGS scientists have installed monitoring equipment (wells, rain gage, sampling line) to collect water-quality data on a salt scar that extends from a brine pit (pit and berm in foreground) to Skiatook Lake, Okla. (in background). The brine in this pit at Site B is pumped into collection tanks by a submersible pump, but in the past the pumping system has occasionally failed, causing overflow of the brine pit.

Salt-scarred and oil-stained slope above a tank battery.
Salt-scarred and oil-stained slope above the main tank battery at Site B, Skiatook Lake, Okla. Grass fires have occurred in the area, which damage nonmetal production lines.

View of a tank battery, injection well site, and brine pit on the right.
View of a tank battery, injection well site, and brine pit (on the right in the picture) at Site B, Skiatook Lake, Okla. An older tank location is on the left in the picture. Salt scars extend from both sites to the lake

The well head of an onsite injection well.
Site B on the shores of Skiatook Lake, Okla., is still active, and has a tank battery containing produced water (brine) and oil. The brine is disposed of in the subsurface with this onsite injection well (one of two). Deep-well injection regulations require that injection wells be completed in aquifers with total dissolved solids greater than 10,000 mg/L (milligrams per liter).

An abandoned oil and tar pit.
An abandoned oil and tar pit at Site A, by Skiatook Lake, Okla. In the past sludge from processing and storage tanks was disposed of in shallow pits.

A salt scar at Site A, by Skiatook Lake, Okla.
Prior to environmental regulations in the 1970s, produced water was sometimes disposed of by discharging the water on the ground, which could cause salt scars such as this one at Site A, by Skiatook Lake, Okla.

More Information

Related Photo Galleries

Reference

Kharaka, Y.K., and Otton, J.K., eds., 2003, Environmental impacts of petroleum production--Initial results from the Osage-Skiatook Petroleum Environmental Research Sites, Osage County, Oklahoma: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4260, 155 p.

Back to Photo Gallery Index

USGS Home Water Climate Change Science Systems Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Environmental Health Hazards

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: toxics.usgs.gov/photo_gallery/osage.html
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 05-Aug-2015 11:11:51 EDT