NMSU, ExxonMobil to partner on produced water research

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University has signed an agreement with ExxonMobil to coordinate research focused on wastewater produced during oil and gas operations.

University Chancellor Dan Arvizu said Monday that the partnership offers an opportunity to leverage the expertise of researchers at the school and those in the industry to find solutions to the challenges of managing produced water. A team of graduate students and post doctoral researchers will be involved in the work.
Pei Xu, the civil engineering professor who is leading NMSU’s effort, said the experience will be valuable.

“Students learn about fundamental theories, but when we work with ExxonMobil, the students are exposed to the industry,” Xu said. “They ask very practical questions and learn real-world, hands-on experience by communicating with industry partners. It also allows us to get industry input for the advanced research we do.”

The university also has an agreement with the state Environment Department to advance scientific and technological solutions related to the treatment and reuse of produced water. The work is helping to inform state officials as they draft rules for the handling, transport, storage, and treatment of produced water.
According to state data, every barrel of oil produced results in an average of four barrels of produced water. One barrel equals 42 gallons (159 litres). In 2018, the industry in New Mexico generated more than 42 billion gallons (159 billion litres) of produced water.

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The spelling of ExxonMobil has been corrected in the headline, summary and text of this story.