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Extraction technology and reservoir characteristics affect the quality and the quantity of PW (Pendashteh et al. 2010). Generally, the PW amount accounts for around 70% of total oil production wastewaters volume. Salinity, dissolved oil and aromatic content represent the most important players in PW quality determination. Furthermore, salinity also affects the PW toxicity assessment since current regulatory test organisms are salt intolerant. Therefore, there is a great need to develop cost effective technology for desalination and to consider more salt tolerant toxicity test species. Typically, PW contains high concentrations of aromatic hydrocarbons, e.g. BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), NPD (naphthalene, phenanthrene and dibenzotiophene, see Table 1) and PAH (polycyclic aromatic compounds) (Utvik 1999; OGP 2002), minerals, radioactive substances, dissolved gases, scale products, waxes, microorganisms and dissolved oxygen (Igunnu & Chen 2012). The salt concentration may range from a few to 300,000 mg L–1; the total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations lies between 0 and 1,500 mg L–1, while oil and gas (O&G) concentrations are comprised between 2 and 565 mg L–1 (Pendashteh et al. 2010).

Table 1

BTEX composition

ComponentLower value (mg L–1)Upper value (mg L–1)
Benzene 0.032 15.00 
Toluene 0.055 5.85 
Ethylbenzene 0.086 0.56 
m-Xilene 0.258 1.30 
p-Xylene 0.074 0.33 
o-Xylene 0.221 1.66 
Total BTEX 0.730 24.10 
ComponentLower value (mg L–1)Upper value (mg L–1)
Benzene 0.032 15.00 
Toluene 0.055 5.85 
Ethylbenzene 0.086 0.56 
m-Xilene 0.258 1.30 
p-Xylene 0.074 0.33 
o-Xylene 0.221 1.66 
Total BTEX 0.730 24.10 

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