M-I SWACO incorporates advanced drilling fluid design with biological treatment to make bioremediation a viable waste management technique. The result has been the beneficial reuse of by-products that traditionally were considered waste.
Our work in bioremediation exploits the presence of naturally occurring bacteria in the soil and in the digestive systems of larger organisms to break down organic compounds into their simplest form. Bioremediation has been used in the oilfield to remediate hydrocarbons. However, it posed technical and economic limitations that sometimes made it difficult to apply this technology effectively under field conditions. To overcome those obstacles, M-I SWACO essentially began at the beginning to formulate synthetic-based drilling fluids generating easily biodegradable cuttings.
In specialized laboratories, including a greenhouse, our environmental specialists conduct exhaustive tests for cuttings toxicity, biodegradation, recyclability and reuse. Resulting from those investigations was the PARALAND paraffin-based drilling fluid system. PARALAND represents a fully biodegradable and non-toxic alternative to oil-based drilling fluids. The fluid and the idea of beneficial reuse were used effectively in several offshore drilling locations in New Zealand. There, we partnered with a waste disposal facility to use vermiculture, or the use of earthworms, to bioremediate hydrocarbons. The results of that project were sold locally as fertilizer.
In that project, M-I SWACO saved the customer transportation and disposal costs while promoting the use of a low-impact drilling fluid. The end result was zero liability and zero waste.
M-I SWACO also designed and operates a full-scale, three-phase bioremediation project that has been used successfully at two gas fields in Northwestern Bangladesh. The project covered three well sites where drilling and production of natural gas was performed. Cuttings and other by-products from the rig were incorporated into the field and managed to meet environmental targets.