Environmentally safe drill wastes – Drilling Developments – Brief Article

Robert E. Snyder

A Calgary-based waste handling/disposal company has solved the environmental problems of oil exploration by creating a complete detoxification system that converts harmful drilling waste into biodegradable, environmentally friendly matter. The biotreatment process, recently designed and patented worldwide by Unique Oilfield Technology Services (UNOTEC) is already being used by operators such as BP Canada and Anderson Exploration, and is promising to “change the face of the energy sector by making oil exploration as environmentally friendly as possible.”

UNOTEC’s announcement comes as the Alberta oil/gas industry approaches its busy winter season, a time which invariably brings protests from environmental groups. But UNOTEC says its system is just a start to bridging the gap between oil companies and the environmental movement. “It will allow Alberta and other regions highly dependent on oil/gas revenues to continue to operate, while minimizing harmful effects to the Earth,” the company notes.

The detoxification process begins with replacement of traditional drilling fluids containing high levels of salt with a far less environmentally damaging oil-based, salt-free fluid. The company then uses specially designed tanks to extract and contain the harmful drilling waste, where it can be treated with predetermined amounts of canola meal and sawdust. These break down harmful hydrocarbons present in the oily drilling waste before it begins to biodegrade itself–leaving in its place a totally organic and environmentally friendly matter–safe enough to fertilize a lawn, the developer claims.

UNOTEC has researched the system for some four years and conducted 10 separate studies, independently and in conjunction with the University of Alberta, to ensure that it works in all kinds of conditions. The studies have shown that not only is the process successful in preventing contaminated waste from entering the ground, it is also effective in cleaning up already contaminated drill sites.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gulf Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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