British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Oil & gas wellsite reclamation criteria in Alberta : bioremediation of invert drilling waste Shergill, Ranju


The fundamental principle of wellsite reclamation criteria is that reclaimed site conditions are to be assessed by comparing them to documented pre-disturbance conditions, or adjacent lands. The differences must not interfere with normal land use and must support comparable self-sustainable growth. Proper waste management and disposal methods which permit drilling operations to take place with temporary effects on the land, while also reducing the cost and time required to obtain final reclamation, are integral steps in successful site reclamation. The goal of all disposal options is to protect the environment and return the disposal site and any affected areas to equivalent land capability. Landfarming is a drilling waste disposal option for heavy invert mud system. By applying the drilling wastes over a selected plot of land and keeping the waste application within loading limits set by ERCB, landfarming is a productive efficient method of reclaiming contaminated sites. Landfarming may take place in either the topsoil or the subsoil, although the topsoil has been shown to provide a more favorable environment for microbial biodegradation of hydrocarbons in invert drilling muds. Due to the soil texture, nutrient availability and increased aeration, landfarming in the topsoil may lead to a more efficient and faster degradation rate of the drilling waste.

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