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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

Marine ecotoxicology of Oilfield Chemicals

Produced water (PW) is the water created as a by-product of oil and gas extraction, with large volumes of PW discharged from offshore oil and gas installations into the sea. PW is not a consistent substance, but will habitually be highly saline and contain organic compounds such as oil hydrocarbons, suspended solids, metals, and numerous other oil-field chemicals. One such group of chemicals are the corrosion inhibitors, substances applied to oil and gas producing equipment to prevent corrosion and scaling. They are generally amphiphillic substances (molecules with a polar, water-soluble group attached to a nonpolar, water-insoluble hydrocarbon chain) designed to be durable and stick to oil industry installations. Whilst most solids and oil residues are removed from PW through various filtration processes, corrosion inhibitors are not. Using mussels as the test organism, this project is studying the ecotoxicological biomarkers of exposure to highly diluted concentrations of various types of commonly used corrosion inhibitors, to further understand the potential impact of this practice on the marine environment.

This project is being conducted by PhD student Omar Alharbi, supervised by Mark Hartl and funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Saudi Arabia