Drilling water treatment plant at the Puerto Gaitán oilfields, Colombia

There are around seven million hectares of land with great potential for agricultural development In the Eastern Plains (Llanos Orientales) of Colombia. However, this potential depends on the availability of water and efficient means of transport in the region, both of which are precarious at this point in time. For cultivation purposes, the high plains (altillanura) require constant availability of water, not just in winter but throughout the year because the region has four very clearly defined months of summer. These circumstances gave rise to the initiative to improve the quality of the process water of the Rubiales oilfield and deliver it to the agricultural sector for use on crops grown to produce biofuels and energy.

The “Agrocascada” (Agro-waterfall) project is an initiative of the the Pacific Rubiales oil company, through which the water obtained along with crude oil following extraction will no longer be reinjected into the ground or simply discharged. By means of the treatment plant, it will now be converted into high-quality purified water for agro-industrial use, thereby guaranteeing employment in the area, higher food production and more sustainable use of water. The Agrocascada project “Water as the driving force of shared value” won the Accenture Innovation Award 2013.

In September 2012, Tedagua won the contract for the design, construction and operation of the aforementioned drilling water treatment plant for a period of ten years. The plant is located in the oilfields of the Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. in Puerto Gaitán, Department of Meta, Colombia. It has a production capacity of 79,500 m3/day, i.e., 28.2 Hm3 per annum and operates 355 days per year. The raw water, which comes directly from the oil production process, undergoes reverse osmosis treatment and is subsequently used for agricultural and forestry irrigation. This is an important environmental project as it avoids the need for costly reinjection of this water into the oil wells.

The process designed by Tedagua basically consists of a pretreatment stage with several filtration systems prior to the application of a high-recovery (91%) reverse osmosis process and a sludge separation process. The result is water perfectly suitable for use from an environmental perspective.