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Discharge of oilfield-produced water in Nueces Bay, Texas: A case study

January 1, 1996

During oil and gas production, water is often extracted from geological formations along with the hydrocarbons. These “produced waters” have been discharged to Nueces Bay since the turn of the century. These effluents were found to be highly toxic, and sediments in the vicinity of the discharges were also toxic. We developed a map of wells and produced-water discharge sites in the vicinity of Nueces Bay and identified numerous unplugged wells suitable for conversion to produced water disposal wells. An economic analysis of conversion to subterranean injection of produced water indicates that most of the wells currently in production could pay out the cost of conversion to injection in one to three years. The use of one injection well for two or more water-producing wells could yield greater savings. Wells that could not support the cost of injection are small producers, and their loss would not constitute a major loss of jobs or dollars to the area. This study could serve as a useful model for evaluating the economic feasibility of conversion to injection in other areas of Texas and Louisiana.

Publication Year 1996
Title Discharge of oilfield-produced water in Nueces Bay, Texas: A case study
DOI 10.1007/PL00006697
Authors Claude D'Unger, Duane Chapman, R. Scott Carr
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Management
Index ID 70178351
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center