From No Way to BP Way: First Drill Cutting Re-Injection in Indonesia

Here is the latest news from the 2007 Helios Awards. BP Indonesia successfully delivers one of finalists in this annual competition. The team consists of Lidia Ahmad – Tangguh Environment, Festarina and Harso Isworo – Tangguh R & W and Paul Crerar – Tangguh D & C. It must have been distinctive idea from this team to make them went to London and joined the Helios global event as finalists.

Helios award hold four categories: Green, Performance, Innovative, and Progressive. All BP Business Units around the world are eligible to apply for awards in any of these categories. “From No Way to the BP Way: First Drill Cutting Re-Injection in Indonesia” succeeded in becoming nominated as one of the finalists in the Green Category.

Cuttings are briefly about waste created by drilling an oil or gas well. The form of these is tiny pieces that are the result of the action of the drill point that perforates the rocky layers into the bottom of the well. Cuttings are problems. The amount of cuttings from one well is quite a lot. The drilling of 15 wells in the Tangguh Project will create around 15 thousand tons of cuttings or, on average, one thousand tons of cuttings per well. One thousand tons is a huge amount. It is the same as 400, 000 rice sacks (one sack = 25 kg). Cuttings are useless, therefore problems. What we are going to do with this huge amount of useless materials? Of course cuttings can not be disposed at the bottom of the sea, nor processing them on land. Neither those options are good solution. Disposed cuttings at the bottom of the sea will pollute sea life and vitality. Not to mention can lead to future liabilities of BP being questioned. Processing them on land are costly, requires large space, long-term commitment and liability for the company. Not to mention the cutting process is more difficult than the end garbage disposal. If the drilling is conducted in the sea, extra facilities are needed to bring the cuttings to land. This task is risky of security and safety, and of course extremely costly.

Tangguh Project
All BP employees including its contractor are all talking about Tangguh Project recently. That is because enormously challenging enough. Bintuni Bay, in the Tangguh Project location, is a sensitive area in so many ways. The bay surrounded by mangrove forests about 10-12 km to the north and 20 km to the south of the drilling platforms. These mangrove forests play an important role in protecting the seashore from erosion and supporting the fishery resources in that area. Bintuni Bay also acts as a center of the Bintuni tribal societies, and for that reason it is protected and preserved by the local people. Various kinds of fish on this bay are means of people’s livelihood. Therefore, none such harm to environmental should be done here.

What then DCRI? The idea of DCRI is simply to integrate cuttings deep under the surface, deep down into the rocky layers where they can be safely kept. In order to do this properly, there are requirements to be fulfilled: there must be empty spaces for the storage, and these must be large enough to store the cuttings. These storage spaces should have parameters of certainty such as having sealing layers so that there are no contacts between layers. These storage spaces must not pollute the groundwater used for drinking and must also be free from hydrocarbons. The final parameter is based on economics – it is much better to produce oil or gas rather than using the same area as storage.

Still, question needed answering, “where can we find these storages spaces?” The seismic data shows layer profiles under the surface as well as the explorative wells in the Vorwata Field area and its surroundings. This data proves the existence of large underground storages that are free of hydrocarbons, gas and groundwater. They are also deep enough and have covering layers (sealing). Amazingly, these underground storages have been naturally created, so that there would be no need to do any additional work on them (in some DCRI cases, fracturing is needed to inject cuttings into the layers). The storages are in an area called the Faumai Formation, which has a very thick “karst” (a limestone landscape, characterized by caves, fissures, and underground streams) layer. This karst has huge cavities that are connected one another, similar to the karst in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta. Festarina called it a “blessing in disguise.” This rocky layer requires extra attention in drilling because there is a risk of lost circulation that can hamper the drilling process. However, the positive side of the Faumai karst is that it fulfills the requirements as an adequate underground storage for cuttings.

A brave and brilliant idea of how BP manages cuttings without opposing BP as “green companies” which committed to protecting the water quality and biological diversity in Bintuni Bay.

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