What is your role?
As a Principal Consultant, my role is predominantly looking after our existing produced water activities which I have established over the past 20 years. These activities include: event organisation, the Produced Water Club, training, JIPs, testing, consultancy and student projects. On top of that, I develop business in the produced water area by initiating new JIPs and extending existing activities to geographically new locations.
What is your academic/industrial background?
I completed a BSc in Chemical Engineering in 1986 at South China University of Technology in Guang Zhou, China. In the 1980s, China was opening up to the rest of the world and very few people had the opportunity to study abroad. I was one of the lucky ones. I then studied for a MSc and PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).
What was the root of your interest in engineering?
Studying chemical engineering was never planned. After all, admission to Universities was only re-introduced in China in 1977. In 1982, when I went to South China University of Technology, only a very small fraction of students finishing secondary schools could go on to study in the Universities. It was by chance that I went to study chemical engineering and got into the discipline of engineering.
Where were you prior to joining the company?
Before I joined in January 1998, I worked at Heriot-Watt University as a process engineer from 1991 to 1995 and as a research associate at UMIST from 1995 to 1997. I worked on several large research projects, all focused on produced water characterisation, separation and reinjection. The work experience at both universities got me interested in working for the oil and gas industry and shaped my career.
What are your main areas of expertise?
My main areas of expertise include: produced water treatment, handling and management; Oil-in-water measurement; and multiphase separation.
I have been technically responsible for over 30 international conferences, initiated and run 8 Joint Industry Projects (JIPs). One of which resulted in the development and issuing of the UK and OSPAR wide guidance on produced water sampling and oil in produced water measurement. On the subject of oil in produced water measurement, I have written a book chapter and ran a training course.
What are your current key projects and who are your key clients?
I am currently working on various key projects:
My key clients include regulators, operators and service providers from the oil and gas industry.
What most excites/interests you about working at TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory?
I have the support from the organisation to develop business and see it grow. With activities on produced water now covering event organisations, Club, training, JIP, testing and consultancy, we are constantly engaged with organisations from around the globe. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to conduct work in various countries in Asia, Europe, South and North of America and the Middle East, which is always exciting and interesting. COVID-19 has changed the world upside down, and had a huge impact on travelling, but with modern technology, we are able to conduct most activities without having to travel.
What future trends do you see developing/will you be looking at in your area of work?
Whilst there is a significant emphasis in developing cleaner energy, oil and gas are here to stay for the foreseeable future even with COVID-19. Having said that, there are several trends emerging, including:
For the North Sea, oil and gas production is declining, major oil companies will continue to shift their emphasis by diversifying their investments and interests elsewhere, providing new opportunities for independent operators. Cost control and technology development will be key in producing the remaining oil reserves in the basin in particular with a low oil price environment. How well produced water is managed in the North Sea will play a vitally important role.
Shale oil and gas production continues to flourish in North and South America. Water management, including flowback water and produced water, is critically important for the sector. Treatment and re-use will be increasingly needed. In Europe and UK, shale gas and oil exploration and production are significantly behind. Concerns of local communities and impact to the environment have made it very hard to advance the sector.
In Brazil, oil production continues to break records with an increasing output from pre-salt fields. However, a recent change in regulatory requirements surrounding organic acids and other components means that meeting produced water discharge standards has become increasingly a challenge.
Overall, a combination of tightened regulatory requirements and increasing water production together with the need to use chemically enhanced oil recovery, and a shift towards deep-sea production of heavy oil, means that management of produced water is becoming ever more important.
For oil and gas production, produced water is inevitable; if there is no water, there is no oil! TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory is well placed to consolidate its position to provide expertise and research to support operators with produced water measurement and management.