Expanded drilling, completion fluids plant facilitates deepwater E&P

June 1, 2021
Newpark Fluids Systems provides both drilling and completion fluids to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico market from Port Fourchon.

For more than two decades Newpark Fluids Systems has been a tenant at Port Fourchon. Originally, the company’s facility was designed for shallow water and inland barge activity. Today, Newpark provides both drilling and completion fluids to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico market from the port.

Tim Armand, president, North America, points out that the deepwater market is more logistically demanding than land operations: “The difference fundamentally in the operations themselves is probably the volumes that you deal with.”

To help its customers handle these volumes, the company launched a deepwater initiative in 2015 to expand its infrastructure at the port, and thereby extend its reach out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Completed in 2017, the revamped facility increased both synthetic- and water-based drilling fluid mixing and storage capacities to more than 80,000 bbl. It also added a dedicated barite storage area.

The facility offers simultaneous and fully automated capabilities that allow quicker turnaround times and provide increased efficiencies. For instance, an automated system hauls bulk sack material to the mixing pits, which eliminates manual handling requirements.

According to Matt Kratzer, global accounts manager, the facility was designed for HSE, repeatability, and quality control. He also said the facility is one of the first in Fourchon to have a closed top mixing pit and Coriolis meters placed on the discharge lines to the vessels. “The Coriolis meter tells us the fluid is still in good shape as it’s being delivered to the customer,” Kratzer said.

As part of its initiative, the company introduced Kronos, a synthetic-based invert emulsion system designed primarily to comply with the environmental requirements for non-aqueous fluids used in deepwater.

More recently, Newpark expanded its completion fluids facility in Port Fourchon. An operator in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico recently chose the company for three completions from an ultra-deepwater, dual-activity drillship. In each case, the operator benefitted logistically from the company’s facility in the port.

The company has a good relationship with the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, Armand said.

“They understand the industry and the ups and downs, especially with COVID tied in,” he said. “It’s very important, especially during the times we have right now.” He also said the oil and gas industry should receive more recognition for how it has managed the coronavirus.

Kratzer pointed out the company’s port facilities have been fully operational since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “There’s been lots of barriers in place to mitigate any outbreaks. So, we've been very fortunate,” Kratzer said. “It shows you the dedicated people and professionals that we have, because I think it’s an individual thing that everybody has to commit to being safe. And part of being safe is getting all the precautions to prevent the spread of COVID.”