Frequently Asked Questions - Recycling Drilling Waste
IT SOUNDS EXPENSIVE. HOW CAN YOU CLAIM TO SAVE YOUR CUSTOMERS MONEY?
By taking a mobile approach, Scott Energy's pricing structure is completely different from historical disposal methods. Additionally, processing waste at the generating site or a nearby production pad reduces trucking and washout costs associated with drilling waste disposal. Finally, Scott Energy’s processes turn drilled cuttings into drilling pads and lease roads, which provides additional savings by replacing construction costs.
What does the finished product look like? Is it road base?
The finished product of one of Scott’s Firmus® or Duro™ processes is not “road base” as most people in the industry think of when they use that phrase. That kind of “road base” is a granular material such as soil or rock.
In contrast, the finished product of one of Scott’s patented processes is not “road base” but is itself a road, drilling pad, or similar structure. It is monolithic over substantial volumes, strongly resistant to rutting from traffic over itself, and has a compressive strength greater than 75 psi.
WHAT TYPES OF MUD CUTTINGS CAN YOU PROCESS?
Scott can process all types of cuttings, including: water-based cuttings, oil-based cuttings, synthetic-based cuttings, and air-drilled cuttings.
ARE YOUR PROCESSES PERMITTED?
Yes, we are able to operate by rule or permit in most every state that has a major oil and gas play. In fact, Scott was the first company to receive a statewide mobile recycling permit in Texas and Oklahoma.
WILL YOUR PROCESSES FIT INTO OUR CURRENT OPERATIONS? WHAT ABOUT CLOSED LOOP SYSTEMS?
Our mobile approach allows us to show up on location when and where you need us to process your drilled cuttings. We are very adaptable and are able to work with many different setups and systems including closed loop systems.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR DESIGNS AND SOLUTIONS ARE WORKING?
First and foremost, Scott is a licensed engineering firm in Texas and Oklahoma, and all of our jobs are designed and tested by professionally licensed engineers. Secondly, samples of the engineered designs are run through our in-house lab before they are implemented in the field. We also follow strict QA/QC protocol to achieve consistent results in the field and then samples are sent out to third party labs for rigorous independent chemical and physical testing. The results are then reported to the customer and applicable regulatory agency to demonstrate that each process was a success.
HOW LONG DOES YOUR PROCESS TAKE?
Depending on the volume of waste, it takes our team anywhere from two to eight days to process the cuttings.
HOW LONG WILL YOUR PROCESS CONTAIN THE CUTTINGS?
According to a study published by the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC), the principal technologies we use will keep the constituents of the cuttings sequestered for thousands of years.
IF DRILL CUTTINGS ARE NOT CONSIDERED HAZARDOUS MATERIAL BY THE EPA, WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT THEM?
U.S. drilling and production practices have changed dramatically in the last few years. The expansion of horizontal drilling and multiple well drilling pads has ushered in important changes. While these changes have resulted in lower costs per barrel of oil and higher estimated recoveries for oil and gas industry operators, they have also posed new challenges for treating solid drilling waste.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) estimates that 1.21 barrels of total drilling waste is generated for every foot drilled in the U.S. Scott believes that nearly 50 percent of this is solid drilling waste. The volume of solid drilling waste generated yearly is approximately 140 million barrels, or enough to fill almost 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. As increasing demand for energy leads to greater oil and gas drilling, the amount of solid drilling waste will grow as well.
Because of this, increasing environmental concerns and more stringent national and international government regulations have forced oil and gas operators to implement effective drilling waste management practices. Operators also face pressure from the public and their financial partners to manage drilling waste in ways that take advantage of cost-effective recycling/reuse options. As a result, the oil and gas industry is continuously looking to new technologies and methods for handling solid drilling waste.
WHAT IS SOLID DRILLING WASTE COMPRISED OF?
Depending on the type of mud, solid drilling waste contains various compounds including salts, heavy metals, and hydrocarbons found in the penetrated natural formations and those found in the drilling mud. The concentrations of the compounds vary depending on the type of mud used to drill each section of the hole. For example, if oil-based mud – rather than water-based mud – was used to drill the horizontal section, far higher hydrocarbon concentrations in the solid drilling waste would be observed.
IS SOLID DRILLING WASTE DANGEROUS?
The compounds – often called “contaminants” – found in solid drilling waste can be detrimental to the environment; therefore, proper management to ensure the contaminants in solid drilling waste are sequestered so it cannot affect the environment is critical. Oil and gas companies must take steps to limit impacts to land, vegetation, water, air and natural habitats.
WHO REGULATES SOLID DRILLING WASTE?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the principal regulatory agency in the U.S.; however, many states have implemented a solid waste plan that takes primacy. Scott managers and employees are highly knowledgeable about the states’ differing, applicable laws and meet or exceed these standards for every customer.
The EPA offered exemptions to the oil and gas industry to prevent… however, drill cuttings contain many constituents that are hazardous by nature. Burying untreated drill cuttings can cause chlorides and heavy metals to leach into the background soils and eventually into the groundwater.