Nuverra named to begin pilot recycling project
North Dakota lawmakers passed legislation in the 2015 session supporting a pilot project to recycle drill cuttings with the objective to determine how to regulate the process.
On June 8, Watford City-based Nuverra Environmental Solutions was named a participant in that pilot which is overseen by the state’s health department and has already been processing and recycling oil field drill cuttings at a facility near its headquarters. The University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center is also participating in the pilot with its goal being development of scientific processes to better serve the environment. Nuverra CEO Mark Johnsrud described the system at a news conference in Bismarck, saying it allows the industry to avoid pits, landfills and the liability for their waste while reducing truck traffic and creating a more efficient, integrated process. He said Nuverra is working with a variety of operators, but expects more to come as environmental auditors assess the new system and choose to participate.
“We would anticipate that it would be commercially running at third quarter of this year and fully operational third quarter of 2016,” Johnsrud said.
Traditionally, drill cuttings are solidified and put into a well site pit or trucked to a special waste landfill. Nuverra’s process involves collecting the waste from the well site and treating it at its processing facility to create a byproduct that resembles gravel. The product is then able to be used as road construction material. EERC is also studying the composition of the drill cuttings to identify its other applications.
John Harju of EERC called the system a “game-changing alternative for the management of drill cuttings.” Gov. Jack Dalrymple admitted that Bakken development has brought new challenges for the state but recycling waste is one of the many ways the industry is managing the resource and its environmental impact.
- Maxine Herr