PhD scholarship: Improved environmental impact assessment of produced water via EURAXESS

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Lyngby, , DK



The Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre (DHRTC), Technical University of Denmark (DTU), invites applicants for a PhD position on chemical characterization and environmental impact assessment of produced water. This position is part of a larger project portfolio relating to management of produced water from Danish North Sea Chalk reservoirs. DHRTC was established by the Danish Underground Consortium and DTU in 2014 as part of a national strategy for energy, the research Centre is an ambitious, targeted effort to improve recovery of hydrocarbons from the Danish North Sea sector. When crude oil is produced large amounts of water is produced along with the petroleum fluid. This water is contaminated from contact with crude oil and production additives. DHRTC has initiated a research program with a focus on solutions to the ambition of zero harmful discharge through improved produced water management. The solutions developed in this program will target industrial and environmental challenges with produced water management and be more generally applicable to water treatment technology, geothermal energy and subsurface storage technologies.

Responsibilities and qualifications
The project aims at developing an improved assessment tool for identifying environmental impact from water production in connection with offshore oil production. The project will target the environmental assessment of dissolved and dispersed petroleum constituents in produced water, which is separated from the oil stream and are discharged to sea. In many cases the volume of produced water (PW) exceeds the produced oil volume and this water contains varying amounts of petroleum constituents and remnants of production chemicals, many of which fall into chemical classes that are of potential environmental concern and for further treatment of produced water (e.g. surfactants, phenols, poly-aromatics, metals and oil droplets in water (OIW)). An improved environmental impact assessment relies on monitoring of the actual concentrations of pollutants in the PW in order to compare with current evaluation methods, threshold values. By combining detailed analysis with additional information from REACH classifications and toxicology studies of produced water from oilfields the project will define a more detailed assessment tool, to compare with current industry practice.

This PhD project will take off-set in a collaborative effort on detailed characterization of specific target compounds and compound classes by analytical chemistry techniques. The goal is to understand the type of constituents that are present in the water phase in produced water from oil fields. The main focus is on surface active and polar compounds, including production chemicals and additives, that are most active at interfaces and can significantly partition into the water phase. These are particularly challenging for disposal and discharge to the marine environment. Measurements of dispersed non-polar hydrocarbon oil components will be benchmarked by the current OSPAR reference method for OIW determination. The candidate will work closely with the research team carrying out detailed chemical analysis of produced water samples, as well as with industry experts, to generate the data necessary for the environmental impact analysis.
The project will involve close collaboration with partner laboratories at DTU Environment and with the produced water monitoring projects ongoing at DHRTC.

Candidates should have a two-year master’s degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master’s degree in environmental, physical or analytical chemistry or similar fields.

Furthermore you must have

  • Exceptional skills and interest in environmental science and interest in the physical sciences.
  • Experience with and interest in environmental chemistry;
  • Experience from MSc level with aquatic environmental science and environmental impact assessment is an advantage;
  • Strong interest in applied research;
  • The ability to work in a multi-disciplinary environment;
  • Excellent writing and communication skills in English;

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the PhD Guide.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Researcher Karen Feilberg, email: mailto:[email protected][email protected], tel.: +45 9351420.

You can read about the scientific basis for the centre’s activities here: />
If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at – Moving to Denmark.
Please submit your online application no later than 15 March 2021 (Danish time). Apply at />
Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online”, fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master’s degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

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