Kenai OKs drill waste facility

After a brief presentation by Buccaneer Alaska Operations LLC representatives, Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the company’s Marathon Road facility to operate a facility for the storage and disposal of drilling waste.

With the addition of the new permit, Buccaneer is now able to operate two waste disposal facilities on the property, one a temporary buried container that will be used to treat drilling waste; the other a well previously used for drilling and now redesigned as an injection well for waste disposal.

The new waste facility will be used first, said Richard Loomis, chief of public relations and communications at Buccaneer.

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval comes after the company secured a permit through the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, AOGCC, to drill. The company then discovered the well was not viable for commercial production and decided to investigate it as a disposal well.

“Normally, in order to get to an end process of a disposal well, this permit application could be originally a development or exploration well that turned out not so good. Rather than just plugging and abandoning it, use it for another purpose,” said Robert Britch, a Buccaneer consultant who gave a brief presentation to the commission. “The other thing is, some operations intentionally drill a disposal well at the start of an operation, in fact that’s getting more and more popular because means of disposing of drilling waste is getting harder and harder.”

The temporary above-ground facility will take drill waste, solidify it for transport and take it to a landfill, Loomis said.

According to permit documents the waste will be taken to the Kenai Peninsula Borough landfill in Soldotna.

“The equipment for this will be moved from another location which is currently doing this kind of disposal and installed at the Kenai location,” he said.

Two-open topped welded steel tanks will be buried six feet into the ground and used to hold drilling wastes which will be mixed with Portland cement and sawdust to solidify.

According to permit documents the company will subcontract construction and operation of the facility to AIMM Technologies Inc.

Converting one of the existing wells into an injection well has been a lengthy process.

The company got an aquifer expemption permit through the AOGCC — which held a public comment hearing on the permit early in 2012.

According to that permit, Buccaneer will inject waste between 5,721 and 7,025 feet underground.

Twenty-two shallow water wells are located in the area according to state data, the deepest of which is drilled to 360 feet according to the permit.

The freshwater aquifer the drilling waste will be injected into does not currently function as a source of drinking water and would be economically impractical to retrieve according to the permit.

The well will store Class II oil field waste.

Fluids authorized for injection in the well include drilling fluids, drill cuttings, rig wash water, naturally occurring radioactive materials and reserve pit fluids among others, according to the permit.

The materials will be ground, mixed into a slurry and pumped into the well, Loomis said.

“The class two is the least intrusive and is probably one of the most common types of disposal wells the oil and gas industry uses in the State of Alaska,” Britch said.

Currently, the company pays the City of Kenai $1,133.33 a month to lease the Marathon Road facility, that lease is set to expire Feb. 28, 2014 and at that time the amount will jump to $2,333.33 or about 8 percent of fair market value according to the terms of a lease approved by the city council during its last meeting.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the permit and it will be granted after a 15-day appeal period during which an affected party can file with the Kenai city clerk.