Recycling oilfield waste
By Neal A. Shipman
Nuverra Environmental Solutions (Nuverra) was selected last week to participate in a pilot program designed to examine and determine standards for governing operations and permitting of commercial drill cutting recycling facilities from North Dakota’s oilfield. The pilot program was created by legislation passed by the 2015 North Dakota Legislature and provides for three initial pilot facilities.
Nuverra’s pilot program, which will be located near Watford City, will use TerrafficientSM, the company’s newest technology to reduce, recycle and reuse drill cuttings produced from the development of oil wells.
The integrated process recycles and reuses 100 percent of drill cuttings, advancing environmental sustainability and mitigating the overall footprint of wellsites. Drill cuttings are broken bits of solid material or rock chips produced from drilling oil wells.
According to Mark Johnsrud, Nuverra chairman of the board and chief executive officer, TerrafficientSM provides a safe, efficient and scientifically-proven solids management process that recycles 100 percent of drill cuttings for beneficial reuse.
“With Terrafficient, we offer an integrated process for recycling and reusing drill cuttings that is scientifically proven, environmentally sustainable and reduces liability for operators,” stated Johnsrud. “We believe Terrafficient is a transformational process that fosters environmental sustainability and will influence how drilling solids are managed in the future.”
With this new technology, according to Johnsrud, customers can reduce solid material volumes, increase efficiency on location and convert drill cuttings into reusable materials. The recycled products can be used for road base and gravel applications, general construction fill and flowable fill for well pads.
“North Dakota is committed to developing innovative ways to recycle and reuse drill cuttings and to identify value-added and beneficial uses for those materials,” stated N.D. Governor Jack Dalrymple. “Nuverra’s new TerrafficientSM technology will provide pioneering methods to reduce impacts at the wellsites and identify ways to reuse these materials such as for the maintenance of our roadways. We look forward to working with Nuverra as a pilot facility as the state moves forward to develop standards for the recycling and reuse of drill cuttings.”
According to Dalrymple, finding innovative ways to recycle and reuse the waste generated from oil and gas development in western North Dakota is something the state has been working hard to achieve.
“Nuverra’s new Terrafficient process will utilize cutting-edge technology to recycle wellsite drilling waste for beneficial reuse, and its selection as a pilot project will assist the state in determining standards for the operations and permitting of oilfield waste recycling facilities,” stated Dalrymple.
Following three years of scientific research, engineering and rigorous testing of the Terrafficient process, Nuverra began processing drill cuttings earlier this year at its treatment facility in the heart of the Bakken Shale region near Watford City.
“We salute the North Dakota Legislature and Governor Jack Dalrymple for their vision and applaud the Health Department for their efforts in creating this pilot program,” stated Johnsrud. “Nuverra is honored to be granted the privilege of participating in this program that will pave the way for the environmentally responsible utilization of recycled materials.”
“Terrafficient is a new and safe way to manage environmentally sensitive drilling waste,” stated Johnsrud. “It virtually eliminates the waste and puts the cuttings back to work for a variety of industrial uses, reduces truck miles on community roadways, and creates long-term savings for our customers.”
Terrafficient end product applications include road base, gravel additive, general construction fill and flowable fill, as well as other products in development. Additionally, the Terrafficient process recovers water and hydrocarbons from drill cuttings for reuse and reduces carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
Nuverra’s scientific partner is the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), a world-renowned scientific research organization dedicated to energy-efficient technologies. Nuverra commissioned the EERC to study the composition of Bakken-area drilling solids handled through the Terrafficient process to determine beneficial reuse applications for the end product material.
“I strongly believe Terrafficient provides a game-changing alternative for the management of drill cuttings,” stated John Harju, EERC associate director for research. “Recycling cuttings is a relatively new technology, and Nuverra has taken it a step further by developing a process that can potentially convert 100 percent of drill cuttings into reusable products. We commend Nuverra for its commitment to identification, development and implementation of the right solution for the environment.”