Water research at the University of Glasgow

Sorting Goods from Bads: Marketing Green Chemistry

The aim of this project was to investigate how chemical products became qualified as green, or as posing an acceptable level of hazard, particularly among marine ecosystems.

We took as our empirical setting the application of production chemistry to the upstream petroleum industry, especially as it operates in the North East Atlantic. Production chemistry is vital to the continuing performance of the upstream petroleum industry, in exploration and production, as it contends with maturity across many hydrocarbons reservoirs, a significant proportion of production infrastructure, and an interest in redeveloping ‘brownfield sites’ given high oil prices and innovations in drilling and in enhanced production and recovery techniques. Production chemists contend with heterogeneous and dynamic settings, providing an impetus to regular incremental innovation in products and services. At the same time, regulation through OSPAR and REACH provides an impetus, indeed a requirement, that innovation production chemicals pose lower levels of hazard, being an additional impetus to incremental innovation.

The crucial connecting factor between production chemistry and the marine environment is produced water, which acts in three interrelated ways upon the concerns of production chemists, oil companies and regulators: (1) Water forms in hydrocarbons reservoirs, becoming co-produced with hydrocarbons, so requiring separation while being a source of scaling and corrosion. (2) Incomplete separation of produced hydrocarbons and water, including through the application of demulsifiers, leads to oil droplets remaining in water. (3) Produced water carries chemical treatments through the production process, creating a system dynamic among, for instance, demulsifiers, scaling treatments and corrosion treatments, which can be re-circulated as produced can be re-injected into mature reservoirs to maintain production pressure. Production chemistry can concern the marketing of established products as standard treatments, but production chemistry also requires the marketing of capacities to offer a capacity for incremental innovation, often through medium-term chemical management service contracts.

Our research identified to distinct empirical streams as we considered how production chemists marketed bot their production chemistry and their capacity to offer incremental innovation as a business-to-business service: (1) Clusters or nets of companies contending with multiple sources of slow-burning conflicts as a normal part of their business and marketing relationships; and (2) Regulators fostering or shaping incremental innovation, especially through making the concepts of hazard, precaution and risk operational in the particular setting of the upstream petroleum industry.

Funded by: Leverhulme Trust, 2010-2013
Principal Investigators: Prof John Finch (University of Glasgow), Susi Geiger (Univeristy College Dublin), Rachel Harkness (University of Aberdeen) and Shiming Zhang (University of Glasgow)
Leave a Reply

Water @ Glasgow Tweets

Contact us