Effectively disposing of waste materials has been a preeminent concern of the oil and gas industry for decades. In recent years, these goals have taken on even greater importance due to the growing awareness of the need for environmental protection in order to preserve and respect our planet and its resources.
Many of the traditional waste solutions used for liquid and solid waste disposal—such as landfills, reserve pits, pelletizing for land application, or incineration—prove inadequate for maintaining the good health of our environment and contribute heavily to the release of green-house gasses (GHGs) into the biosphere. The value of deep well injection in this industry and others, is clear. Sustainable oilfield waste management services empower the oil and gas industry to better steward our environment and the health of our communities.
The Importance of Sustainable Oilfield Waste Management
Oilfield operations generate waste that cannot simply be disposed of by using the traditional surface or near-surface waste disposal methods mentioned above. From produced waters to waste materials from drilling, completion, and production operations, the waste produced by oil and gas operators can be of concern to local communities and the environment, and traditional disposal options are not isolated enough to completely safeguard the environment, including the health and safety of people living in the area.
Finding ways to sustainably manage oilfield waste is a challenge, but it is a necessary hurdle to overcome. Sustainable waste management is essential to ensuring the health of our communities, our environment, and our planet. It is a challenge we have a responsibility to accept.
Deep well injection operations have emerged as one of the most effective solutions for managing and disposing of waste. These operations involve injecting waste materials into underground formations, deep under the surface of the earth, selected for their ability to accept the waste along with being surrounded by impermeable formations that prevent migration of waste and its byproducts.
Types of Oilfield Waste
Each year, drilling, completion, and production operations by oil and gas operators produce millions of gallons of oil and gas wastes, including:
- Flowback water
- Gel water
- Acid water
- Tank and pit sludge
- Sediments and tank bottoms
- Truck washout materials
- Oil and water base mud
- Friction reducers
- Truck washout materials
- Drill cuttings and spent drilling mud
- Produced water
- Organic compounds and hydrocarbons
- Salt formation drilling materials
- Hydrotest materials
- Pipeline leak and repair materials
- Heavy metals
Advantages and Disadvantages of Oilfield Waste Solutions
Waste injection, landfills, and reserve pits are three common methods for managing solid waste generated during oil and gas operations. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, which are discussed below:
- Controlled Environment: Landfills provide a controlled environment for managing solid waste, which helps to prevent environmental contamination.
- Efficient Solid Waste Disposal: Landfills are an efficient way of managing solid waste. Large volumes of waste can be stored in a relatively small area.
- Long-term Oilfield Waste Solution: Landfills provide a long-term solution for managing solid waste. Waste can be stored in a landfill for years, allowing for slow decomposition over time.
However, landfills can have negative environmental impacts if not properly managed. Waste can release harmful chemicals into the environment, as well as greenhouse gasses (GHGs), and landfill sites can attract pests and wildlife that can disrupt the surrounding ecosystem.
Landfills have limited capacity, and once they reach their maximum capacity, new landfills need to be established, which can be difficult due to public opposition and environmental regulations.
Finally, establishing and maintaining a landfill can be expensive, including costs for transportation, construction, and monitoring.
- Cost-Effective: Reserve pits are generally less expensive to construct and maintain than landfills.
- Convenient: Reserve pits are often located near the drilling site, making them convenient for the disposal of solid waste.
- Time-Efficient: Reserve pits can be used to dispose of waste quickly, which can be useful in situations where there is limited time or space.
The negative environmental impact of reserve pits can be significant. Waste can contaminate groundwater or surface water, and reserve pits can attract wildlife that can be harmful to the surrounding ecosystem.
Reserve pits have limited capacity, storing only a certain amount of waste. Once the pit is full, waste must be transported to another location for disposal.
For these reasons, reserve pits represent a permanent surface liability. The use of reserve pits is regulated by state and federal agencies, and compliance can be complex and costly.
Several advantages are attributed to waste injection:
- Environmentally Friendly: Injection is considered an environmentally friendly method of waste disposal, as it reduces the amount of waste that is released into the environment
- Permanent Oilfield Waste Storage: Waste injected will be permanently stored in sub-surface with no future surface liabilities
- Cost-Effective: Injection is often less expensive than other oilfield waste solutions, such as landfills and reserve pits
- Reduced Need for New Disposal Sites: Since injection can be carried out at existing wells, it reduces the need for new disposal sites.
- Minimal Surface Area Required: Since waste disposal takes place underground, there is no need to purchase large amounts of property for surface disposal
Deep well injection is the most environmentally responsible oilfield waste solution. Injection wells are drilled deep into the ground, boring through multiple layers of geologic formations. An area with favorable geology will include layers of impermeable rock surrounding isolated, porous rock formations such as sandstone and limestone. The impermeable formations eliminate the risk of waste material migrating into the surrounding environment unchecked. Liquid waste can be injected using this system to achieve efficient and permanent sequestration of oilfield waste. The injection well itself takes up a minimal amount of real estate on the surface, but the injected formation may span for miles, thousands of feet underground. So long as the injection well is maintained and monitored properly, the waste is effectively removed from the biosphere—forever.
Additionally, deep well injection is the best choice for oilfield waste disposal because of how economical this method has proven to be.
Waste injection has minimal drawbacks by comparison. It is subject to strict regulations and compliance can be complex. Oilfield waste injection can pose risks if not properly managed, including the potential for groundwater contamination and induced seismicity.
Who better to work with to mitigate these risks than the pioneers of deep well injection? The team of engineers at Advantek® have pioneered and continuously improve the technology to successfully manage regulation compliance and risks. For over three decades, Advantek has proudly managed injection projects with zero incidents related to environmental impact.
Classes of Injection Wells
There are several classes of injection well, each defining the waste source and the standards that must be adhered to for each class:
- Class I – Industrial and municipal waste
- Class II – Oilfield waste, enhanced recovery, and hydrocarbon storage
- Class III – Fluids to dissolve and extract useful minerals in solution mining
- Class IV – Hazardous or radioactive waste (Shallow injection)
- Class V – Non-hazardous fluids into underground drinking water sources
- Class VI – Carbon Dioxide (CO2) sequestration
The high standards for underground injection control are managed and enforced at the state level by the EPA. Class II injection wells for oilfield waste disposal zones must meet a number of requirements, including geological stability of the injection site, to minimize surface and subsurface risks and maximize injection capacity. Class II injection wells can be installed where deep, porous geological formations containing hydraulic fractures are surrounded by nonporous, impermeable layers to form ideal containment zones which prevent migration of waste.
Class II injection wells dispose of the most common form of oil and gas waste: produced water, a salty brine that is far more saline than ocean water and contaminated with chemicals including hydrocarbons, suspensions, heavy metals, and naturally occurring radioactive substances.
Injection wells are not just for disposing of liquid waste, either, but can also sequester solid oil and gas waste, such as sediments and mud, through a process called slurry injection. Slurry injection involves taking solid waste, breaking it down, and mixing it with liquid waste to form a slurry. The injection well can then pump the slurry just as it would pump produced water.
Over the past few decades, slurry injection has become a preferred method of oilfield waste disposal, and it’s not hard to see why!
Selecting Strategic Oilfield Waste Management Locations
One of the most important—and challenging—parts of the oilfield waste disposal process is site selection. Receiving a permit for a Class II injection well requires a feasibility study which includes exhaustive research and analysis to demonstrate that an ideal site has been selected for permanent waste disposal, providing long-term sequestration with no surface or subsurface liabilities.
Oilfield waste disposal companies must clearly demonstrate that they have carefully studied the area through comprehensive and detailed geomechanical analyses and determined its suitability for storage capacity and permanent confinement of injected wastes.
Permitting also requires demonstrating appropriate monitoring solutions to ensure the injection well’s integrity, the containment of the injected materials, and the prevention of induced seismicity.
Oilfield waste management companies must find the right locations for waste disposal sites. The ideal site for oilfield waste disposal not only meets the ever-important geological requirements but is also nearby to oil and gas operators, cutting down on the expenses and potential environmental hazards of transporting waste material.
Our Oilfield Waste Management Locations
We operate a number of oilfield waste management locations for oil and gas operators across the state of Texas, demonstrating examples of the types of geological formations that are especially useful for permanent waste sequestration:
- Delaware Basin, Reeves County, TX
- Shelby County, TX
- Eagle Ford Shale, Karnes County, TX
- Permian Basin, West TX (coming soon)
Each location is carefully chosen to eliminate the risk of surface liabilities and protect surface and underground aquifers, while also eliminating the need for additional costly treatment, disposal, and transportation for nearby oil and gas operators.
Lowering Your Oilfield Waste Footprint with Advantek’s Deep Expertise™
Selecting, developing, and managing an injection well site for oilfield waste disposal strikes a delicate balance between the subsurface, surface, and logistical considerations of the site, as well as factors such as waste type, equipment, and financial considerations.
Advantek is a team of oilfield veterans with decades of experience in finding innovative and sustainable ways to dispose of oilfield waste. Our leadership and our engineers are the best and brightest in their fields. Advantek assists oilfield waste management companies in finding better, more sustainable solutions that help them lower their waste footprints, leave their communities cleaner, and meet their sustainability and ESG goals.
Advantek specializes in providing full-service deep well injection oilfield waste solutions. Here are a few ways that Advantek can help you with waste injection:
Waste Injection Well Design
Advantek designs and engineers waste injection wells that are safe, efficient, and compliant with regulatory requirements. This includes conducting site assessments and risk assessments, designing well casings and liners, and selecting appropriate injection techniques.
Oilfield Waste Management Regulatory Compliance
Advantek can help customers navigate regulatory requirements related to oilfield waste management and waste injection, including obtaining permits, complying with reporting requirements, and addressing environmental and safety concerns.
Injection Well Operations and Maintenance
Advantek offers well operation and maintenance services, including well testing, pressure monitoring, and remediation activities, to ensure that waste is injected safely and efficiently.
Injection Well Monitoring Solutions
Advantek provides 24/7 deep well injection monitoring with our proprietary @SSURE® Cloud+ for Surveillance software, enabling real-time monitoring and an alert system to keep operations under control at all times.
A team of highly experienced engineers oversees the operations, always ensuring personnel and injection well safety. This combination of cutting-edge technology and peerless human expertise is how we have successfully injected millions of barrels of waste for over 30 years with zero incidents.
Advantek – The Experts in Sustainable Oilfield Waste Management and Disposal
From site selection and permitting to maintenance and monitoring, Advantek is highly experienced in managing every aspect of injection well waste disposal. We’re here to connect oil and gas operators and oilfield waste management companies to the best and most environmentally sound methods for permanently storing their waste.
Our goal is to utilize our proprietary slurry injection techniques and Deep Expertise to help customers safely and efficiently inject waste into the subsurface while minimizing the environmental and safety risks and costs associated with oilfield waste solutions.
Our technology could make landfilling and other harmful options for waste disposal obsolete for multiple classes of waste and build a cleaner, more sustainable world.
Why is sustainable oilfield waste management important?
Sustainable waste management is crucial for protecting the environment, communities, and our planet. It ensures the health and safety of people living near oilfield operations while preserving natural resources.
What are the advantages of deep well injection for oilfield waste disposal?
Deep well injection offers several advantages. It is environmentally friendly, provides permanent storage of waste underground, and is cost-effective compared to other methods. It also minimizes the need for new disposal sites and requires minimal surface area.
What types of oilfield waste can be managed through slurry injection?
Slurry injection is a method for disposing of solid oil and gas waste. It involves breaking down solid waste, mixing it with liquid waste to form a slurry, and pumping it into the injection well. This process can effectively manage sediments, mud, and other solid waste materials.
How does Advantek® ensure compliance and safety in oilfield waste injection projects?
Advantek® has decades of experience and expertise in managing injection well projects. Their team of highly experienced engineers ensures strict regulatory compliance and monitors operations for safety. With their cutting-edge technology and continuous monitoring, they have maintained a record of zero incidents in over 30 years.