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Closed Loop Drilling Fluid System
Problem: A small independent operator was concerned about the volume of drilling waste in conventional reserve pits at his drilling locations. Waste management costs were a concern, as well as the costs associated with impact on adjacent land due to pit failures. The operator was concerned about the potential for surface water or ground water contamination and the associated potential liabilities.
Solution: The operator was drilling relatively shallow wells in normally pressured strata. Because the drilling plan was relatively simple, the operator investigated the feasibility of using a closed-loop drilling fluid system for these wells. The use of a closed-loop system eliminated the need for a conventional reserve pit. The operator negotiated with drilling contractors to obtain a turn-key contract that required the drilling company to use a closed-loop system and take responsibility for recycling the waste drilling fluid.
Benefits: The turn-key contract was incrementally more expensive. However, because of reduced drillsite construction and closure costs, reduced waste management costs, and reduced surface damage payments, the operator realized a savings of about $10,000 per well. Also, the operator reduced the potential for environmental impact and associated potential liability concerns.