US Liquids of Louisiana (USLL) has opened its second transfer station in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The strategically positioned facility offers a 24-hour-a-day/seven-day-a-week full-service marine operation for oilfield drilling and production waste disposal. This transfer station will provide significant savings to E&P operators who rely on barges to transport waste to the USLL network of disposal facilities.
As generators of millions of barrels per year of produced water, oil- and water-based drilling fluids, cuttings, workover and completion fluids, and production wastes, operators in the Gulf of Mexico spend millions per year on regulatory compliance and waste transportation, treatment, and disposal. Having an additional facility in Fourchon reduces transportation costs, which contribute significantly to the total E&P waste disposal cost.
In recent years, activity increases have strained barge capacity and driven rates up. At some facilities there are long waits to offload waste. An extensive USLL network of transfer facilities in Morgan City, Cameron, Fourchon, Intracoastal City, and Venice in Louisiana benefits Gulf Coast operators with lower-cost, one stop disposal, cleaning services, and washout bays. The investments made by USLL to upgrade transfer station capabilities translate into significant savings to operators who rely on barges to transport waste to treatment facilities.
“Helping our customers lower their transportation costs is part of our commitment to remain the low-cost provider of E&P waste management services,” says William Werdenberg, USLL CEO. “With the new 800-ft (244-m) dock in Fourchon, we now provide 1,600 ft (488 m) of water frontage to improve barge turnaround time a significant increase in our capabilities to serve inland barges in the Fourchon area.”
Zero operator liability a USLL goal
In addition to reducing operators’ transportation costs, USLL has taken steps to cost-effectively minimize or eliminate the operator liability inherent in drilling and producing oil and gas wells. Under the US Superfund law enacted in 1980, cradle-to-grave responsibility for generated wastes became the standard. Thus, if a contractor improperly transports, treats, or disposes of waste, the government may require all companies that generated the waste to share the cost of remediation. USLL has perfected a number of innovative treatment and disposal methods to reduce, reuse, and recycle E&P waste, and for the first time a reliable commercial method has been demonstrated to move the industry much closer to zero operator liability.
The challenge for USLL in developing zero-operator-liability technologies and services has been to ensure that the total cost of waste management of the new approaches is lower than traditional oilfield waste disposal practices. To that end, USLL has implemented several innovative initiatives to achieve the lowest total cost of waste management for the operator. In addition to reducing transportation costs through its strategically positioned treatment facilities and more cost-effective docks and marine transfer stations, USLL has focused intensive efforts to improve the land treatment process so soluble salt content is decreased, oil concentration is reduced by recovery or degradation, and clean cuttings or reuse materials are stored securely onsite.
E&P waste becomes a product
In addition, these stockpiles can be eliminated safely through the USLL R3 treatment process, which reduces contractor costs because it improves land treatment efficiency and reduces the required quantity of land and water resources. Frequent independent tests, onsite audits by E&P operators, and strict regulatory monitoring of USLL operations confirm that this proprietary land treatment process does not impact ground water and soil adversely. The process is quite different from the practices used by operators who have their drilling contractor bury E&P waste at the well site as disposal.
The R3 process is an economical and fully compliant method to convert E&P waste to beneficial and environmentally friendly road base and levee fill reuse material that eliminates E&P operator liability. The R3 road base program converts stockpile material to environmentally safe road base.
“Experiments conducted at USLL’s South Texas facilities with an independent lab have demonstrated that treated reuse material can be converted to new high-performance road base material,” says Werdenberg. “Lab tests of the new R3 road base have proved that the material is cleaner and more affordable than asphalt and has higher compressive strength.”
Now approved by regulatory agencies for building public and private roads in Texas, the R3 road base leaves USLL facilities in South Texas for road-building projects as a commercial product that is no longer classified as waste. Given the enormous volume of road base consumed every year in the areas surrounding USLL facilities in Louisiana, all of the existing and newly created stockpile from drilling operations easily could be reused in road repair and construction to eliminate operator liability.
Clean reuse material ideal levee fill
The clean reuse material produced by the R3 treatment process also is ideal for levee fill. USLL is working with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources to ensure that liability to the generator ends when the stockpile material leaves the facility as reuse material for a levee reconstruction project. Levee projects in Louisiana need many times the volume of material than is currently stockpiled at USLL facilities.
For 25 years, land treatment cells have been used safely but not efficiently. The USLL R3 process greatly improves efficiency to ensure land treatment remains the most affordable and least risky alternative for managing E&P waste. Tests of the R3 treatment process indicate that USLL’s facilities can safely handle the continued increase in drilling activity expected in the years ahead.
“With the implementation of these new technologies, along with our extensive network of offloading facilities, we expect to be able to handle three times the volume of E&P waste without increasing the footprint of our present land treatment facilities,” Werdenberg says. “The R3 process is an important building block of this significant increase in throughput as well as the foundation of our initiatives to reduce water, recycle oil, and reuse waste.”
USLL continues to experiment with the R3 treatment process to further refine its waste segregation and active evaporation processes and is working hard to achieve zero operator liability by converting E&P waste to beneficial reuse products.
For additional information about USLL waste collection and treatment, visitwww.uslla.com or call 713-590-4620.