February 7, 2009
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Home / Issue Archive / 2009 / January - December #1 / M-I SWACO Facilities at Marine Support Base Reduces Drilling Waste, Aids the Environment

№ 1 (January - December 2009)

M-I SWACO Facilities at Marine Support Base Reduces Drilling Waste, Aids the Environment

The experience of both global and Russian offshore drilling projects calls for the use of high-technology marine support bases.

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Despite the growing cost of offshore operations the number of such projects in Russia has increased considerably. Therefore the problem of the development of marine support base infrastructure is urgent and must be solved.
A marine support base offers the following services:
n bulk products reception, storage and transfer;
n maintenance and repair of process equipment and facilities;
n loading and bunkering of vessels with material and technical recourses;
n anchorage of boats and vessels between voyages and during off-season time, and anchorage for repairs;
n production waste management.
M-I SWACO Liquid Mud Plant (LMP)
Today OBMs (oil-based drillings fluids with the use of synthetic or low-toxic mineral oil) are used for drilling offshore wells worldwide. M-I SWACO VERSACLEAN is one of the most widely-used oil-based fluid systems. The following benefits of VERSACLEAN system account for its wide application in offshore well drilling:
n increased ROP;
n resistance to all kinds of contamination, including drilled solids, cement, formation water, etc.;
n high productivity of wells due to efficient reservoir drilling-in;
n excellent inhibiting characteristics, providing the stability of all shale types;
n unique lubricating properties;
n eliminates differential pressure sticking;
n does not require any advanced solids-control equipment;
n eliminates corrosion of tools or equipment;
n excellent stability;
n easy service;
n can be stored for a long time;
n can be repeatedly reused;
n can be used for well drilling, as well as for workover, well killing and conservation operations.
These advantages of oil-based drilling fluids reduce well-construction time, which results in reduced drill-rig lease costs, early return of direct investments, and improved overall offshore project financial performance. This is confirmed by both global experience of well-construction in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico and other regions, and drilling of wells offshore Sakhalin.
However oil-based fluid application for offshore drilling can be economically and technologically effective only if there is a special plant for oil-based mud mixing, storage and conditioning. In the existing offshore drilling areas (the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Sakhalin and others) there are dozens of mud plants, serving the needs of oil and gas companies in quality drilling fluids.
Marine mud plants are only starting to appear in Russia. Such plants have been built on the shore of the Caspian Sea and the Baltic Sea, and Sakhalin Island. As a rule, mud plants provide drilling projects with whole drilling fluids, as well as with base fluids and brines, like for the Sakhalin-2 project.
Mud mixing plants can be used for reducing different production risks when drilling using water-based fluids. Thus, a full-scale M-I SWACO Liquid Mud Plant was built in Makhachkala to ensure successful implementation of Russia’s first deepwater drilling project in the Caspian Sea.
M-I SWACO Bunkering Plant
The process of mixing drilling mud and cement slurry implies using quite big amounts of bulk materials and chemicals, including barite, bentonite, calcium carbonate, etc. Handling sacks of such products on offshore platforms takes a lot of time (resulting in considerable rise in lease costs), and it is almost impossible at some drilling rigs due to design features. That is why bulk materials are delivered to offshore rigs in supply vessel tanks and then pneumatically transferred to drilling rig holding tanks. A specialized bunkering plant is built as part of a marine support base aiming at reducing the time needed for bulk material filling. Bunkering Plants (M-I SWACO BP) are designed according to the planned scope of drilling in order to ensure the specified productivity. These facilities allow storing bulk chemicals, preparing dry mixtures and transferring materials via pneumatic lines to supply vessel tanks. One of the characteristic features of M-I SWACO BP is that it enables handling materials which are delivered to the marine support base both in sacks and in railway tanks.
M-I SWACO has designed and successfully introduced the concept of onshore ENVIROCENTER as a tool for optimizing the use of expensive premium drilling and completion fluids. ENVIROCENTER technologies handle liquid drilling waste as a resource and recycle these components into high-quality drilling fluids. The drilling fluid treatment process has a 90 percent reduction of the total waste volume. These recovered components include reclaimed water, brine, drilling fluid and base oil that otherwise would have been hauled off for disposal. Depending on fluid type and value, level of contamination, cost of disposal and environmental regulations, the recovered drilling and completion fluids can be used anywhere.
ENVIROCENTER implements a unique approach to the production waste problem through a multi-level system (fig. 3).
 The top level of waste minimization works is to reduce waste at its source. Thus, M-I SWACO ATC (Automatic Tank Cleaning) system is used to separate fluid from solids with the further reuse of fluid (fig. 4).
At the second from top level waste is recycled and its components are reused, including ways other than their original purpose. For example, recovered water is used for washing cuttings boxes.
The main task of the third level of the system is to recover components while at the second level from the bottom waste is treated makes it possible in some cases to move the components up the pyramid for reuse. It is at the lowest level that the residue is isolated and disposed of in a responsible manner. It means that waste is disposed of after all other possibilities have been exhausted. This is the essence of the ENVIROCENTER environmental solution.
The ENVIROCENTER concept proved successful when new technologies and chemicals made reclamation of non-water-based drilling fluids, contaminated with water or brine, possible, similar to expensive completion fluids reclamation.
ENVIROCENTER facilities offer several services, all of them aimed at waste minimization and fluids reuse.
Offshore well construction requires field-proven programs which enable operators to reduce waste volume, maximize drilling fluids reuse, recycle and recover fluids characteristics, and to dispose drilling waste. The main components of a marine support base are a mud plant, a bunkering plant and a waste management plant.
A well-engineered base makes it possible to:
n improve the supply system of offshore drilling projects and improve project logistics;
n reduce rig-time for drilling fluids mixing and treatment;
n find new ways of drilling fluids reuse;
n reduce waste volume and volume of fluids to
be mixed.

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