The Changing Waste Management Platform for Offshore Operators
The hazardous waste sector is one of the fastest changing in the offshore market, driven by a mix of legislative and corporate social responsibility factors. For those operating offshore, Augean PLC has become an effective partner in managing their hazardous waste, and Nigel Bowen – Director of Oil and Gas – Augean PLC explains the complex nature of the market.
The very nature of hazardous waste means that compliance with regulatory standards and safeguarding materials is a major concern for offshore companies. The EU Waste Framework Directive has become the defining strategy for how offshore operators deal with their waste materials.
Added to this regulatory framework is the fact that offshore operators have seen good environmental practice grow as a key operational aim in recent years. With public pressure mounting on all companies to take greater responsibility for the creation and then transfer, treatment and disposal of waste products, the issue of hazardous waste management is central to an organisations reputation.
Therefore, there is an increasing emphasis on innovative ways in which waste can be recycled and even turned back into energy. This article looks at the issues surrounding drilling waste, the requirements of offshore operators and also looks at how waste is being recycled and used by organisations to enhance their CSR and reputation.
Drilling Waste Transfer and Containment
State-of-the-art drilling waste management solutions and services, require a combination of facilities and a highly qualified team who provide technical support. The key to successful handling of drilling waste is the initial containment and transfer, with responsibility for the waste moved from the operator to the waste management company.
This process is then followed by the testing and appropriate treatment of waste when secured in the containment facilities. The range of solutions and required equipment to consider, for containment and handling of waste is too extensive to cover in a single article. However operators should always be aware of the need for drill cuttings containers which offer secure units for holding drill cuttings.
In terms of extraction of the waste there are different solutions, the most common of which include, Full Hydraulic Drive Centrifuges which may be initially required for the separation of oil field mud and slurries. Cuttings blowing pumps, vacuum continuous collection systems (CVVS) and rig vac’s, which are specific to offshore use, are also used in the extraction and collection of the drilling waste.
Drilling Waste Treatment, Recycling, Recovery and Disposal
There are numerous approaches to the treatment, recycling, recovery and disposal of hazardous waste from offshore operators. Because of the variety of wastes and the range of ways of recycling and recovering the materials, no single solution is available. The most common approaches include Indirect Thermal Desorption. The processes for these two processes are detailed, but Augean also has extensive experience of slop water treatment, water jetting, chemically enhanced centrifugation, cuttings reinjection and cartridge filtration and bioremediation. In its joint venture with Scomi Oiltools, additional facilities and services have been added to the existing portfolio of solutions.
Internal Thermal Desorption
The indirect thermal desorption (ITD) process is used to treat organically contaminated hazardous and non hazardous solid and sludge wastes using a combination of techniques to recover organic fractions. In doing so, this renders the remaining residue suitable for either re-use, recycling or disposal via appropriate highly engineered landfill installations.
This process is suitable for sludges from various offshore processes, soil and stones, oil containing drilling muds and wastes, oil spills, sediment, centrifuge sludges, filter cakes and spent absorbents, paint, ink, adhesives and resins. It is therefore a highly flexible approach to dealing with waste materials, and creates a final product which can be disposed of effectively and efficiently.
Also, the unit can treat a broad range of organic contaminants such PCBs and PAHs to organic solvents, as well as oils and petroleum products.
Extended Services through Augean
In May 2012, Augean PLC added to its portfolio of services to the offshore market through the formation of a new business unit Augean North Sea Services (ANSS). This joint venture between Augean PLC and Scomi Oiltools (Europe) Limited provides increased capacity, localised facilities and increases the range of solutions for hazardous waste management services to offshore operators in the North Sea.
At the core of the operations is drilling waste management on the offshore platforms, supported by containment, treatment and recycling of drill cuttings at the Waste Recovery Park. Further services are provided for the management of other wastes from Platform Service Vessels (PSV’s) utilising the specialist treatment, recycling and storage facility at Pocra Quay in the Port of Aberdeen & Lerwick on Shetland.
A growing issue is the handling of normally occurring radioactive materials (NORM), which is created through offshore drilling. The secure transfer of NORM is being dealt with through this new joint venture.
Waste is contained and managed on rig prior to being collected directly at quayside where full liability transfers to Augean. The joint venture enables the development of innovative solutions to manage all waste streams derived from North Sea exploration and production activities.
The facility at Pocra Quay in the Port of Aberdeen for the management of drilling slops waste has a full PPC permit. The facility has a capacity of over 1630 m3 liquid storage as well as 300m3 of dry bulk storage and is being developed to further enhance the recycling of drilling slops wastes setting the facility at the forefront of the market.
Augean have a direct feed pipe line into the treatment facility at Pocra Quay from the quayside and also a pipe line from the public quay at Pocra South providing speed and complete flexibility to Platform Service Vessels (PSV's).
The Pocra Quay facility is unique as it provides unrivalled access 24 hours a day, speed and efficiency in waste material transfer, and a state-of-the-art treatment and recycling facility at Quay side delivering the highest environmental performance to offshore operators.
About the author
Nigel Bowen joined Augean in August 2008 with vast experience in the waste industry, following senior positions held in companies including Castle Environmental and Leigh Environmental. His experience includes management of landfill and treatment operations, metal recycling sites, aggregates recycling facilities as well as in the decommissioning industry involving both onshore and offshore installations.
Nigel holds 3 Level 4 WAMITAB COTCs for managing treatment; managing transfer and managing landfill operations in hazardous waste; as well as a BSc (Honours) Degree in Applied Science (Resources Science) [Environmental Chemistry].
Nigel is a member of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management and is a Chartered Waste Manager.
Augean PLC was formed in 2004, and is listed on the AIM. The company is the UK’s leading provider of waste management services with an emphasis on hazardous waste.
The name Augean was born out of Greek mythology, inspired by the fifth labour of Hercules.
Augean is the strategic partner for a range of organisations in the land management, oil and gas, construction and nuclear decommissioning sectors. Augean works with other leading waste management companies to offer a complete solution to any business.
With headquarters in Wetherby and a network of sites and facilities across the UK from Avon-mouth to Aberdeen, Augean PLC has become a leading facility for the transfer, treatment and disposal of waste products, with a specialism in hazardous waste.
Augean is committed to delivery the highest quality service in the management of a wide range of hazardous wastes, and provides a strategic partner to businesses in all industrial and construction sectors.