Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras has selected GE’s new seawater sulfate removal (SWSR) nanofiltration membrane to reduce scaling and hydrogen sulfide production in oil reservoirs.

Launched in May for the upstream oil and gas market, the SWSR is designed to reduce scale and corrosion in the injection well by eliminating sulfate, which can reduce oil recovery and plug the well.

The selection follows completion of a five-month pilot study by GE on the SWSR membrane based on Petrobras specification.

It is an advancement to GE’s DK series nanofiltration membrane and the SWSR claims to provide a high transmission of sodium chloride into the permeate water to reduce operating pressures.

In addition to offering physical barrier for any suspended particles including bacteria, pyrogens and colloids, the membrane can be retrofitted into existing systems or used in new systems.

The new membrane also can be used in conjunction with GE’s existing reverse osmosis membranes to improve oil recovery.

GE Power & Water engineered systems — water and process technologies general manager Yuvbir Singh said: "Petrobras’ endorsement reflects the upstream sector’s demand for more effective technologies that can help protect production equipment as companies venture into deeper, more challenging production conditions.

"Offshore oil producers use injection water to flood the field and force oil to the producing wells, but if the water is of poor quality, it causes scale and hydrogen sulfide that plugs and sours the field."

The technology, which can be optimized for use in seawater, has three-layer membrane design and smooth surface for improved fouling resistance.