When it comes to gas and oil production, the future looks as bright today as it ever has. With predictions indicating sustained growth in terms of these producers, it’s business, as usual, out in these fields. And business is good. But, for all the good it’s doing, it’s also important for businesses to acknowledge that exploration and production, or E&P, waste is a real issue.

There’s a massive industry out there for waste experts in this particular field, and with good reason, too. The world’s biggest major waste companies have invested massively in their own operations. Why the added focus? Because there is and always will be need for cleanup and management.

And these companies are, for the most part, looking to increase their assets and grow across all of the major oil and gas production areas. It’s a robust field to operate in, right now.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a closer look at how the waste from exploration and production operations operates and is categorized.

What Is E&P Waste?

Exploration and production waste, otherwise known as E&P waste, refers to drilling and oil explorations, and their runoffs. It’s a natural part of the process but can come in so many shapes and sizes, it’s difficult to even put all of them in a single blog post. Drilling wastes. Saltwater runoff. Crude oils and natural gasses. All of these processes and the facilities that run them make fertile grounds for waste production.

One thing of note is the question of regulations. E&P waste is not regulated by the Louisiana Hazardous Waste Regulations. It’s also not regulated by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This puts these wastes within a shared category and can have different impacts depending on the size and nature of your E&P setup.

Managing byproducts from oil and gas drilling are big business if you’re involved in it. But it’s also a lot of work, with many waste types to consider and definitions to learn before you can start. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

E&P Waste Types

Type 1: Salt Water

Whether produced brine or water, this applies to everything except for saltwater used for specific purposes. This includes:

  • drilling
  • workovers
  • completion fluids
  • enhanced mineral recovery processes
  • process fluids resulting from an approved waste oil operator, only receiving oil from oil and gas leases
  • waste fluid processed at nonhazardous natural gas plants. Fluids may comingle with produced formations

Type 2: Waste From Oil-Based Drilling

When oil-based drilling produces specific types of waste, these belong to type 2 E&P Waste. These products include:

  • mud
  • fluids
  • cutting

Type 3: Waste From Aqueous Drilling

Aqueous drilling leads to waste products, as well, all of which fall into type three E&P Waste. These include:

  • mud
  • fluids
  • cutting

Type 4: Completion Workover and Stimulation Fluid

Stimulation fluids are used for carrying sand and enhancing the producing qualities of the well, itself. These may differ, depending on the nature and construction of the well.

Type 5: Production Pit Sludge

This can and often does include contaminated storage bottoms and certain exempt wastes that must be disposed of.

Type 6: Sludge From Storage Tanks

Storage tank sludge is produced during the course of standard production procedures. On-site and commercial seawater treatment sites and DNR-approved waste oil facilities handle a lot of this output. And, finally, sludge commercial facilities and wash water systems at transfer stations.

Type 7: Oily Sands and Solids, Which Have Been Produced

These petroleum deposits are both unconventional and 100% man-made, making them a part of the E&P family.

Type 8: Freshwater Production

During freshwater production, waste type 8 is formed.

Type 9: Rainwater

This is derived from firewalls, ring embankments, and pits created at drilling and production sites. Rainwater is a common form of production waste.

Type 10: Washout Pit Water and Residuals

Created from cleaning E&P waste containers, the water, and residual solids are not contaminated by hazardous waste. This washout water and solids can be generated at a commercial facility or transfer station through simple washing. What comes out of containers with residual E&P waste is type 10.

Type 11: Washout From Oilfield-Related Carriers

When oilfield-related carriers and service companies can’t carry away hazardous waste, the washout is type 11.

Type 12: Solids From Non-Hazardous Natural Gas Plants

When non-hazardous natural gas plants process waste solids, type 12 waste is formed.

Type 13: Reserved Waste

Type 14: Pipeline Test Water

Test water that fails to meet the emission limits set by the corresponding state authority falls under this category. This also applies to solids and liquids produced from cleaning out a pipeline, otherwise known as “pigging”.

Type 15: Wastes Transported From Commercial Facilities

E&P Wastes that go from commercial facilities to commercial processing facilities are type 15. The exception to this rule is type 1 or 6 E&P wastes.

Type 16: Crude Spill Waste From Cleanup

Type 50: Waste In Recoverable Hydrocarbons

Combined for acceptable recovery oil operators, recoverable hydrocarbons form type 50 E&P waste.

Type 99: Other

It’s a big world out there, and E&P Wastes can come in all shapes and sizes. Anything not described above falls under type 99. These must be approved well in advance before shipping.

E&P Waste Management

When it comes to making a mess, you’ve got to clean up, no matter what age you are. But, whereas the messes we make as children are simple to fix and just take some work to clean up, a production mess can be far trickier.

The categories mentioned in today’s article really are just the tip of the iceberg and, for many companies, the start of a lot more learning for them. Hopefully, however, with the help of these categories, you’ll be one step closer to figuring out where your waste falls in the grand scheme of things. And that’s a step closer to complete production compliance and carbon responsibility.

For more on how you can stay informed about your business’s impact on the world around it, consider reading another one of our blogs. Alternatively, reach out to find out more about our excellent service portfolio.