The Objective Of Drilling Waste Management

The strengthening of environmental regulations around the world has changed the way service companies and their customers view the provision of drilling fluids. Ignoring the effects on the environment from mixing, transporting, cleaning, re-using and disposing of mud and cuttings is no longer an option.

The objective of Drilling Fluids Environmental Services (FES) is to provide an integrated solution to the management of drilling fluids and the associated drilling waste generated, addressing the operation from waste generation to final disposal.

FES follows the waste management hierarchy as the guideline to manage all the issues affecting the operation. The waste management hierarchy aims at reducing the overall impact of the drilling activities to the environment:

Process of drilling waste management

  1. Reduce: Minimize the volume of waste and reduce environmental risks.
  2. Reuse: Maximize the use of materials and resources for the same process.
  3. Recycle: Recover part or all of the waste to be used in a new process or to begin the process over again.
  4. Responsible: Use methods and technologies that minimize the effect on the environment and use the least amount of resources.


The waste management hierarchy requires a range of services that can be applied during each stage of the process according to the characteristics of a particular project and the customer.

I – Waste Minimization Approaches II – Recycle or Reuse Approaches III – Disposal Approaches
Synthetic-based and oil-based mud generate less cuttings than water-based mud Road spreading when roads benefit from application of waste Land spreading or land farming
Coiled tubing drilling Reuse synthetic-based and oilbased mud Road spreading
Directional/horizontal drilling Use cleaned cuttings for fill or cover material Burial in onsite pit or offsite landfill
Use of less toxic components and additives for mud Restoration of wetlands with clean cuttings Discharge to ocean
Air drilling Use cuttings as aggregate for concrete or bricks Salt cavern disposal
Thermal treatment with fluid recovery Underground injection
Thermal treatment
Biotreatment (e.g., composting, vermiculture)

There are three main types of services within Drilling Fluids FES product line:

  • Management Systems: The FES Process is based on the Total Quality Management concept. It aligns the goals and activities of each project with the expectations of the customers, assuring that lessons are learned and best practices are retained within the organization and can be applied to future jobs.
  • Best Operating Practices: These consist of several recommended procedures to minimize the volume of waste. BOP’s encompass planning and execution of drilling fluids, solids control, waste management and supporting activities that affect the quantity and quality of waste generated.
  • Waste Management Services: Technologies specifically designed to collect, treat and discharge drilling waste.

The requirement of drilling waste management system must be considering and containing:

  • Rapid project deployment: The initial project set up time is greatly reduced as proper drilling waste management system will take on many of the responsibilities to ensure full environmental compliance.
  • Drilling waste management system will provide assistance with obtaining the drilling approval.
  • Potential risks are identified to minimize the impact of drilling operations on the environment.
  • The operator’s personnel are freed to concentrate on the operational big picture rather than the smaller details.
  • Paths of communication, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
  • Operating efficiency is maximized through the use of Key Performance Indicators.
  • The logistics involved in the transportation of all fluids and the associated waste are managed.
  • An accurate audit trail to keep track of all drilling waste is provided.
  • A system of continual learning detects problems and highlights areas for improvement.

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