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Solids Handling for Upstream Oil & Gas Industry: Step 5 - Transport (B-FSM039)

Photograph of dewatered sand ready for transport via bulk-solids bag

The fifth step of solids handling in the upstream oil & gas industry is Transport. Final disposal site determines transport route/method.

There are four categories of disposal;

  1. Overboard discharge:
  • Solids to be cleaned to spec then transported by pipe as a slurry to caisson
  1. Slurry fracture injection:
  • Solids do not need cleaned, transported by pipe as a slurry to injection pump
  1. Landfill disposal:
  • Solids cleaning typically not required
  • Non-hazardous vs. hazardous disposal
  • Onshore transport by truck or forklift
  • Offshore transport by crane to ship to shore/truck to landfill
  1. Unique methods:
  • Add sand to road surface mix
  • Add sand to existing drill cuttings disposal
  • Grind sand to smaller size prior to injection disposal

The key factor in FSM design is – Know where to put the sand. Don’t constipate your system.

Unit Processes for Dewatering

  1. If solids are in slurry form;
  • Use pipeline to caisson for overboard discharge or pipeline to pump for injection into disposal well
  1. If solids are in dewatered cake form;
  • Use bag or bin container to ship or truck

Transport is detailed in module M9 and will be covered further in a future post.

Transport Examples

Three unit-process examples below show transport systems employed in the upstream oil & gas industry. The first (left) shows a slurry injection system to dispose of solids removed from produced water with a desander. This is an onshore system in environmentally sensitive area with zero discharge. The solids are mixed a slurry and pressurized to 90 bar for disposal into injection well. The middle system shows a deepwater facility using dewatering bag and skip to transport solids back to shore via boat. The system on the right shows a four-place dewatering bin from which solids are transported to shore for landfill disposal.


  1. Rawlins, C.H., “Sand Management Methodologies for Sustained Facilities Operations,” paper 164645-MS, North Africa Technical Conference & Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt, Apr. 15-17, 2013.
  2. Rawlins, C.H., and Wang, I. I., “Design and Installation of a Sand Separation and Handling System for a Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Facility,” SPE Production and Facilities, paper 72999, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2001, pp. 134-140.

The next article will put all five steps together with an example from paper OTC-24705. 

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