Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
Oil and gas companies play a significant part in driving the world’s economy. The worldwide demand for energy has increased and is expected to grow by 37% by 2035 (Helmy & Kardena, 2015). The exploration and production of oil can have adverse effects on the environment because of the waste released (Nwanyanwu, Fred-Nwagwu, & Yousuo, 2015). As a result, the organizations and the relevant governments have devised various ways to reduce the release of toxic substances.
Oil and gas producing companies employ several strategies to manage waste. One of the methods is the disposal of toxic substances. The technique works well for waste produced during drilling, which includes mud, cuttings, produced water, and tank bottoms. They can be disposed of through onsite or offsite burial (Maloney & Yoxtheimer, 2012). The former entails using lined or unlined pits that are dug in the ground. The latter happens at landfills, where industrial waste is permanently buried. This technique prevents the substances from causing harm to the surroundings.
Another strategy that organizations use is landfarming, which is a controlled and continuous application of wastes to the earth’s surface. Notably, it reduces the concentration of substances rich in hydrocarbons. The mining and exploration firms also use slurry injection to enhance waste management. This technique involves grinding solid waste into small particles and mixing them with liquid to form a slurry, which is later injected into underground rocks at a high pressure. The methods used by the oil and gas organizations have significantly reduced the release of waste.
Sinopec, which is a Chinese oil and gas company, employs several strategies to manage their waste. The organization reduces its discharge of solid substances by treating and classifying the waste materials based on their toxicity. The company recycles the substances and harmlessly discards the ones that cannot be re-used (Sinopec Corp, 2017). Additionally, the institution ensures that the slurry produced as a result of activities from its subsidiaries does not fall into the ground during the drilling process. Instead, the substance is hardened and used to make bricks and harden roads. Sinopec employs a waste management strategy that is similar to that of ADNOC. In fact, ADNOC also eliminates all harmful elements through source reduction, which involves implementing activities that can reduce or eliminate the generation of toxic substances from the source. In addition, ADNOC prefers to reclaim the useful components of waste for use in other areas. It also aims to recover or extract minerals and energy from the toxic materials.
Just like Sinopec, ADNOC treats toxic waste in case the reduction, reuse, and recovery options are not feasible or have been utilized fully. The treatment alternatives used depend on the waste features, environmental sensitivity of the site, and economic factors. The organization can also employ physical methods, such as soil washing and centrifugation to treat the substances. Additionally, it can use biological, thermal, and chemical reaction methods.
Sinopec has also developed structures for methane recovery from associated gas and reduction of emissions. It has strengthened the management of pipeline storage and transportation infrastructure. For instance, it ensures that all vehicles serving certain oil wells are fitted with CNG or LNG facilities. Moreover, it adopts the latest production technology to recover natural gas at the time of testing. ADNOC uses an almost similar technology when recovering energy and gas. The application of almost similar strategies shows the commitment that oil and gas producing companies have in promoting waste management.
ADNOC’s activities results in a variety of waste streams that can be detrimental to the environment if not well checked. The process of oil and gases generates two types of wastes, namely drilling fluids (muds) and drill cuttings. The toxic materials should be managed properly to avoid harming human beings and the environment.
Drilling fluids are categorized into two, namely aqueous drilling muds (water-based muds) and the non-aqueous drilling fluids. Substances that are classified under the former include water and weighting agents, such as barite. Other wastes that fall under this category are clay and organic polymers. The former comprises non-water dispersible base fluids, including oil and synthetic based muds.
Challenges Facing ADNOC
ADNOC faces several setbacks as it implements its waste management measures. In 2017, the company generated 950 tons of non-hazardous waste (ADNOC, 2017). Additionally, it recycled and saved 750 kg of paper (ADNOC, 2017). The firm has also taken significant steps to reduce emissions by installing state-of-the-art vapor recovery systems. One of the challenges that the company faces is the improper handling of toxic substances. Segregation of hazardous chemicals in the storage area is not well-implemented; thus, it increases the risk of environmental degradation. Notably, materials which have not been classified and protected can easily leak into the environment. The poor handling mechanisms lead to mixing of toxic substances, such as garnet, insulation material, and eWaste. Additionally, demarcation and signage in the storage rooms are not properly done. As a result, an unsuspecting individual can access substances that require specialized handling techniques. For instance, one might enter the control room without the full protective gear due to lack of signage or warnings. The organization also lacks a control facility that can deal with accidental spillage, which is a threat to the environment.
Just like all oil organizations, ADNOC must meet a certain production quota to boost its profitability and recover its operational costs. In fact, the annual increase in wells and drilling operations motivates the oil firms to intensify their production volumes; therefore, it is difficult for them to reduce waste. Toxic substances are more likely to be released when drilling activities increase. The discovery of new exploration grounds also makes the situation worse; however, the company has implemented in-house measures to address the issue of waste management. It starts by categorizing the toxic substances and finding the right strategies and methodologies to deal with the issue.
ADNOC categorizes toxic material as either domestic and municipal, non-hazardous and commercial, or hazardous. The classification is based on the materials’ physical and chemical characteristics and the level of risk they pose to human beings and the environment. For instance, hazardous substances can cause death or severe ailments while domestic and non-hazardous waste does not present any significant threat to people’s health.
Waste Management Strategies
ADNOC prioritizes pollution prevention when it comes to waste management. In other words, it ensures that operation practices that result in discharges to the environment are either eradicated, reduced, or changed. If it is not possible to eliminate waste, it should be minimized through source reduction, recycling, treatment, and effective disposal.
Segregation. It entails physically separating waste materials based on their chemical and physical features. It ensures that materials of a similar nature are classified together, thereby simplifying their storage, treatment, and disposal arrangements (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, 2014). It is an important step in increasing the opportunities for recycling and reusing. It also ensures that hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals are not placed in the same category.
Waste Management Methods
Source Reduction. This technique aims at eliminating or minimizing the amount of toxic substances produced. It can be done by using alternative materials and processes that are more efficient. Some of the practices that can be adopted include material elimination, stock control and management, and modification of the processes used, among others.
Reuse. After all avenues for source reduction have been exhausted, the next step is to find ways to reuse the waste material. This measure can be implemented by reclaiming useful components of a waste material or by reducing or removing contaminants from it. The substance may be re-used as an alternative for a commercial item or for road spreading.
Recycling is the process of converting waste into other usable substances. All recovery opportunities must be extensively explored during the waste management process. The hydrocarbon materials must be returned to the production process if possible.
This option should be implemented when the reduction, reuse, and recovery options have been explored. The effectiveness of the technique depends on the characteristics of the waste. A variety of methods can be used to treat waste. They include physical, biological, thermal, and chemical reaction methods.
It consists of a combination of hazardous and non-hazardous materials. They include items such as wood, glass, paint, oils, and ballast, among others. Their effect on the environment depends on the amount of waste produced.
Oil and gas companies find it difficult to implement effective waste management measures. This situation is occasioned by the need to achieve maximum profitability, which can only happen after boosting their operations. The increase in drilling activities results in more toxic substances being released to the environment. Additionally, the failure to use the latest technology increases the toxic substances. The use of new methods of exploration ensures that all wastage minimization options are explored before the waste is discarded. In other words, they ensure that the process is designed in a way that can reduce the toxic substances from the source, which is necessary to lower the firms’ contribution to pollution. Additionally, the techniques also ensure that the waste generated can be reused, recycled, and treated before it is discarded. The modern methodologies ensure that all possible alternatives have been explored. The oil companies also face an internal challenge when it comes to storage of the waste or other dangerous chemicals. For instance, the failure to segregate the items properly can lead to mixing and chemical reactions. The stakeholders in the oil and gas industry need to collectively address such challenges by implementing a code of conduct that should be followed by all.
ADNOC has ensured that waste is managed right from the mining area through source reduction. Additionally, it implements the reuse, recycle, and treat techniques before discarding the substances. As a result, much of its waste is not very toxic when it is released; however, the organization must ensure that proper handling of chemicals and waste is implemented. In fact, the control area should be restricted to qualified personnel. The firm should also ensure that segregation of chemicals and dangerous substances is implemented to avoid mixing. Segregation is also essential in reducing spillage to the ground. In addition, it is necessary to correctly label all substances to avoid confusion. Moreover, proper signage should be maintained for clarity. For instance, the control or storage areas should be well-labeled, and no one should access such areas unless they are authorized. While it is important to increase profits, ADNOC should ensure that the correct drilling mechanisms are used in all its subsidiaries to reduce waste. This project will ensure that ADNOC achieves its waste management goals by highlighting the areas of weakness and the solutions.