Case Study: First Full-Scale, Land-Drilling Waste-Injection Project Successfully Initiated in Western Siberia

Challenge: The southern part of the Priobskoe field is located in Western Siberia on the flood plain of the Irtysh River in an environmentally sensitive area. Cuttings discharge and liquid-waste spills on the surface are completely prohibited. Until now, the exploration and full development of fields like this one were major challenges for oil and gas companies working in Russia. All drilling wastes including cuttings, used muds, wash and waste waters, etc., had to be transported away from environmentally sensitive areas, such as flood plains, to locations officially designated for waste disposal. The major cost came from transporting huge amounts of drilling wastes generated from multiple rigs. In addition, spring and fall weather make transportation all but impossible because the winter roads disappear, the rivers flood and ice floes abound.

Solution: This problem was solved by “Gazpromneft-Khantos” (a joint venture of Gazprom), using waste-injection technology provided by M-I SWACO. Waste Injection (WI) is a relatively new disposal method in Russia. The first time it was successfully implemented in Russia was in 2004 on Sakhalin Island offshore projects. Since then, until October of 2008, WI has been used only in Sakhalin Island offshore fields on several platforms. Many oil companies have wanted to use it in mainland Russia, but until October 2008, they were concerned with legislation issues. WI had never been tried on land rigs, and because of this it was considered a new, untried approach in managing drilling wastes. Gazpromneft-Khantos, however, made an agreement with M I SWACO for two Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) studies for waste injection. The targets of these studies were:

  • To identify suitable injection formations in the Priobskoe and Zimnee fields and determine their disposal capacity. Both fields are situated in the environmentally sensitive area where surface cuttings discharge is prohibited
  • To maintain contact with Trofimuk Oil and Gas Geophysics and Geology Research Institute and support it with needed technical materials that will help Gazpromneft-Khantos obtain its license for waste injection and its license for handling hazardous materials
  • To estimate the equipment needed for waste injection and injector-well construction

FEED Studies were successfully completed. Suitable formations were defined for injection in each field, with additional capacity to accommodate the waste from future drilling activities. The process of drafting the waste-injection agreement began while M-I SWACO continued to provide Trofimuk Oil and Gas Geophysics and Geology Research Institute with the technical information for licensing, designing, manufacturing, delivering and maintaining the WI equipment at the client’s location. The layout of the centralized WI facility is shown below. On 15 October 2008, all WI equipment was installed along with the client’s equipment such as the winterized enclosure, tanks for liquid wastes, temporary cuttings-storage pits, heaters, etc. The injectivity test showed very good results, aligned with the initial FEED study model. On 16 October, the first batch of slurry was successfully injected. From this date to the present, waste-injection operations have been successful.

Result: M-I SWACO has successfully injected more than 889,000 bbl of waste (cuttings, used mud, contaminated rainwater and other waste liquids) with no safety or environmental incidents, allowing the operator to stay within the field-development schedule. The injection rate of 55,621 bbl per month made this project one of the most intensive WI projects of 2009 worldwide. A key factor to the project’s success was the excellent communication and cooperation between M-I SWACO and the operators’ teams in managing the risks involved and timely implementation of lessons learned.

The table below illustrates a total volume of waste injected for the whole period of waste-injection:
Waste Streams Volumes Injected (bbl)
Slurry 810,425
Water / viscous pills 43,881
Waste liquid 35,631
TOTAL 889,937


Cuttings reinjection of drill cuttings and used mud was recognized by all the operators as the most cost-effective, environmentally acceptable and long-term disposal solution for cuttings and liquid waste streams in such a remote and environmentally sensitive area as the southern part of the Priobskoe field.

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