--> Re-purposing offshore oil platforms as desalination facilities

AAPG Pacific Section Convention, 2020 Vision: Producing the Future:

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Re-purposing offshore oil platforms as desalination facilities


Offshore oil platforms represent a technical legacy whose utility for energy production has past its prime given current economic, environmental, and political changing climates. Retiring and removing the facilities represent a significant financial liability to the ownership entities. Decades of presence has also added an offshore reef community rich in diverse flora and fauna that would be subject to decimation with full platform removal. Consideration of using offshore oil platforms as large-scale desalination facilities is gaining traction. Wells, whether retrofitted or drilled anew, could be used as an intake source for sub-seafloor saltwater intake points for raw water without affecting the pelagic or benthic habitat as do many intake structures globally. Energy sources for desalination facilities could be existing gas wells, or converted to sustainable wind, tide, or current generation facilities. A brine stream byproduct of desalination could be injected via existing wells or diluted with surface seawater. Existing pipelines, used to transfer petroleum products to onshore refineries, could be converted to freshwater pipelines that could feed raw water facilities of regional water wholesalers. A collaborative effort between energy, water, and regulatory parties can potentially provide multiple benefits toward diversified sustainable water sources for communities and the environment. In addition to turning liabilities into assets, the repurposing of the platforms could be reversed - at least in part - back to petroleum extraction if economic and political climates shift at some future point.