To reduce the amount of drilling waste that has to be transported to landfills and to provide a renewable solution, Chesapeake Energy Corp. has begun an innovative recycling project with TWMA Ltd. in the Eagle Ford Shale.

The $1.5 million South Texas project, which is contracted to last up to nine months, is providing the UK-based service company a venue to showcase its U.S. reclamation services, the management team said. The global operator provides drilling waste management, engineering and environmental services for onshore and offshore operators. The company recently expanded its Houston operations.

In May TWMA began treating Chesapeake’s nonaqueous drilling fluid (NADF) contaminated drilling cuttings in the Eagle Ford. A TWMA team deployed a “TCC RotoTruck” at several of the producer’s rig locations to demonstrate how the technology treated drilling cuttings and associated fluids at the source.

“The process removed nonaqueous base fluid (NABF) from the cuttings outfall to a very acceptable 0.0123% average total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH), which is far below local discharge requirements,” according to TWMA. The tests were done according to Railroad Commission of Texas regulations, the company noted.

“By early June, the TWMA TCC RotoTruck unit was deployed to service multiple operations, moving from well pad to well pad. Since the start of the project, TWMA has processed upwards of 3,500 tons of NADF cuttings, recovering more than 3,000 barrels of NABF for reuse in the drilling fluids, which would have otherwise been sent to landfill.”

Chesapeake’s drilling manager Rob Jones said the services have “shown us that drill cuttings can be treated effectively at [the] source, which as well as reducing the environmental impact associated with our drilling activities also offered us significant cost savings.”

Before the project began, the drill cuttings and fluid wastes were transported to disposal or landfill sites, which often are miles away from the drilling site.

The TCC RotoTruck used in Chesapeake’s operations “recovered all of the NABF (99.5%-plus) from the NADF cuttings outfall, which to date has led to 3,190 barrels of base oil being returned to the operator for reuse,” TWMA said. Eventually up to 10 of its trucks could be deployed across South Texas.

“TWMA has long been seen as a leader in Europe, but now we are being recognized in America for the unique way we handle and treat drill cuttings and the fluids associated with it,” said Americas Vice President Ian Nicolson.

According to the company, the recovered NABF contains “little or no solids, representing 100% efficiency from material processed. Traditional solids control equipment such as drying shakers, centrifugal dryers, and decanting centrifuges for drying are not required; all NABF accompanying cuttings outfall is recovered by the TCC RotoTruck thermal process as clean NABF.”

TWMA also claims that because of truck’s ability to clean the material and remove all NABF, the remaining solids exit the system as dry power, which then can be disposed of onsite with the recovered water.