The water that is produced during oil and gas production needs to be treated before it can be disposed of or reused for injection purposes. This is a growing market, with environmental policies becoming more strict and concerns increasing in many regions over the availability of fresh water.

A new report from MarketsandMarkets estimates that the global market for produced water treatment services will be worth more than $8 billion by 2019, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%.

Other factors driving the market include the boom in shale development in the United States and the growth of the energy sector in Africa and the Middle East.

Produced water is made up of a complex mixture of organic and inorganic components. It exists in the reservoir along with the oil and gas and is produced as a byproduct with the extracted oil and gas. Impurities in the water can include dissolved and dispersed oil components such as BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene), PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) and phenols.

Various treatment technologies are employed to remove contaminants from the water, including membrane filtration technology, thermal technology, physical separation and chemical treatment. Membrane technology, a recent development, makes use of micro porous films with specific pore ratings which selectively separate a fluid from its components.

At the moment, North America dominates the produced water treatment services market because of stringent environmental regulations in the region and the ongoing growth of U.S. exploration and production activities.

But demand for such services is also high in countries with a shortage of fresh water, like India and China and much of the Middle East, and these are attractive markets for produced water treatment service providers, the research firm said.