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Solids Disposal – Examples (B-FSM-166)

The information below provides some details on examples of disposal methods used in various operating fields.

Landfill Disposal: Determine the specific landfill location and acceptance criteria for your particular waste. Many standard landfills take non-hazardous E&P waste, however regional landfills exist for low-level NORM.

Example of Waste Acceptance Criteria from Williston Basin E&P waste disposal landfill.

  • Must be solid enough to walk on!
  • No free liquids (must pass paint filter test)
  • Less than 50 ppm Benzene
  • No greater than 5 pCi/gm total Radium 226 & 228
  • No greater than 5 pCi/gm Lead 210
  • Any waste not meeting the RCRA E&P exemption (see Forms & Documents for more information) is subject to testing to confirm its non-hazardous status. This may include TCLP (Toxicity), BTEX, DRO, GRO, flashpoint, corrosivity and reactivity characteristics.

Overboard Discharge: Once produced sand processed to meet discharge specifications then added to drill cuttings, produced water streams, or drains. Typically discharged via sump caisson or skim pile.

Produced solids/sand is not often specifically covered by discharge regulations

  • Discharge limits for produced water have specific guidelines
  • Discharge limits for mud and cuttings have specific guidelines – water based, synthetic based, and oil based
  • Produced solids may fall under “oily cuttings discharge”

U.S. GoM does not allow discharge of produced solids. OSPAR (North Sea) allows discharge at <1% oil on cuttings but primary practice is to inject or ship-to-shore.

The table below is a summary from the Jones et al. reference providing examples of discharge standards for produced solids.

Slurry Fracture Injection: Solids injection into disposal reservoir.

  • Used significantly for drill cuttings
  • Many OnePetro papers and SPE Monograph Vol. 24 entitled “Solids Injection”
  • Typically, a batch process using fracture pumps
  • Slurry injected into discrete disposal zone

Unique Methods:

Add sand to road surface/bed mix (cold mix asphalt)

  • Non-hazardous, usually on-site use only
  • “E&P Waste Management in the Orinoco Delta”

Add sand to existing drill cuttings disposal

  • Either local or regional drill cuttings injection site
  • Produced solids a small fraction compared to drill cuttings

Grind sand to smaller size prior to injection disposal

  • Use ball mill to grind sand to fines for easier injection with other wastes
  • Used in Alaskan environmentally sensitive and hard to transport area

Biodegradation with compost/landfill piles


  1. Rawlins, C.H. and Wang, I. 2001. “Design and Installation of a Sand-Separation and -Handling System for a Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Facility”. SPE Production and Facilities, August, pp. 134-140. https://doi.org/10.2118/72999-PA
  2. Rawlins, C.H. 2019. “Enhanced Production Through Surface Facilities Sand Management.” SPE Distinguished Lecturer presentation. Link here
  3. Rawlins, C.H. “What to do with Produced Solids after Separation: Dewatering, Transport, and Disposal.”. White Paper Publication, eProcess Technologies. Link here

Next week I will wrap up the information presented in Module 9.

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