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The production of oil and gas often requires the disinfection of large volumes of water for reuse or injection to ensure against biofouling and plugging of shale formations.
With the advent of new horizontal drilling technology, wells are drilled horizontally into shale formations containing natural gas. The wells are then fractured, using as much as five million gallons of water per well. This process expands the formation increasing the capacity of the well.
The water is then either disposed of or disinfected and reused. The cost of disposing of the water is very high, as it requires trucking from the site. Traditional disinfection by chemicals is often employed, which is expensive and can be hazardous to employees. Disinfection by UV is a chemical free, low cost alternative to biocides or disposal.
Large volumes of water are often used in oil production as well. Water is treated and injected into the well and the oil is displaced to the surface. UV is an effective treatment method for microbial control in injection water for oil production, where sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) growth can cause plugging of the well and reduce oil production.
There are a variety of chemicals used in oil production and there can be interference between the chemicals, limiting the choices and degree of effectiveness. UV adds no chemical interference and is more effective in disinfection than biocides.