The offshore oil and gas industry is experiencing increasing water cuts as the reservoirs mature. The increase in produced water stresses the currently deployed deoiling technologies, resulting in more oil in the discharged water. Deploying membrane filtration to reduce the hydrocarbon concentration inherits additional complications related to fouling of the membranes: A process where the accumulation of material within and on the membrane surface adds additional flow resistance. This paper reviews and analyses the fouling detection, removal, prevention, dynamical and static modeling, with emphasis on how the membrane process can be manipulated from a process control perspective. The majority of the models rely on static descriptions or are limited to a narrow range of operating conditions which limits the usability of the models. This paper concludes that although the membrane filtration has been successfully applied and matured in many other industrial areas, challenges regarding cost-effective mitigation of fouling in the offshore deoiling applications, still exist. Fouling-based modeling combined with online parameter identification could potentially expand the operating range of the models and facilitate advanced control design to address transient performance and scheduling of fouling removal methods, resulting in cost-effective operation of membrane filtration systems. With the benefits of membrane filtration, it is predicted that membrane technology will be incorporated in produced water treatment, if the zero-discharge policies are enforced globally.
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