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[ClickPress, Fri Apr 15 2016] Waste Disposal Regulations for Drilling Mud & Cuttings Technology, Cost Trends, Environmental Impact and Regional Regulatory Bodies by Mud Type (Water-Based, Oil-Based, Synthetic Based), by Region and Markets Analysis with Forecast

Growing environmental concerns and the increasing global energy demand lead to stricter government regulations

Initially, drilling activity in exploration and production (E&P) involved simple processes. Drilling waste management was not a prime concern, as the only additives in drilling mud were barite and bentonite. Shale shakers, desanders, and centrifuges were used to help reduce the solid loading in the drilling fluid system. These two additives have a low environmental impact. Most waste management practices involved onsite waste management through simple techniques such as storage in pits and burial.

Environmental protection has always played a role in E&P operations. During the 1970s, intense efforts were made across all industries to examine discharges for possible environmental hazards. These activities led to the formulation of environmental regulations. To ensure compliance with these regulations, a number of companies provide drilling waste management services. These services can be categorized on the basis of phase into solid control, containment & handling, and treatment & disposal.

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Water-based mud is the least regulated and most widely adopted mud in the world

Water-based mud consists of water, salts, barite, bentonite, and other minor additives, with water being the primary fluid. The composition of the water-based mud is dependent on the density of the mud, and has an approximate make-up of 76% (weight) water, 15% barite, 7% bentonite, and 2% salts and other additives. Owing to this, this type of mud has the least amount of regulations associated with it. The use of other non-aqueous fluids, such as synthetic- and oil-based muds, entails compliance with strict disposal regulations; for instance, maximum discharge limit of 1% of oil on cutting (dry weight).

North America and Europe impose the most stringent discharge regulations in the world

With regard to regions, North America and Europe are frontrunners in terms of environmental protection; these regions enforce strict regimes to preserve human health and the environment. The main regulatory regimes in these regions are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the OSPAR Convention, which formulate regulation policies for discharge in the region. Stringent environmental laws such as zero discharge policy in the offshore region and heavy penalties for violation of regulations have come into play in countries like China. Waste disposal regulations in other regions, such as Africa and the Middle East, are comparatively lenient.

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