See how waste management on maritime platforms

  • 01/04/2021
  • 10 minutes

When we talk about operating units like oil platforms, the focus of the subject always leans towards productivity – when it is extracted, the efficiency of the work generates the expected profit. But what do these activities leave behind when the shift ends?

Waste management on offshore platforms has been gaining more and more space in planning and discussions involving the sector, mainly in the exploration of O&G.

To further contribute to this important discussion, we invite Alberto Filho, supervisor of environmental services at Wilson Sons Offshore Support Bases, to discuss the most relevant points about this procedure. Check out.

The importance of waste management in the sector

For a long time, environmental concerns in the O&G sector were very much focused on its core activities. And rightly so since any type of accident involving leaks in extraction and transport can mean tragic impacts for marine and terrestrial biomes.

Here it is worth considering that there is another part of this equation that has also started to receive important investments in the last decades: the management of waste derived from this production.

After all, the very nature of this type of operation demonstrates the concern that is necessary to deal with the problem. According to IBAMA, a little more than half of the solid waste coming from platforms is potentially dangerous for humans and the environment.

And, with the development of companies specialized in this treatment, a second layer has emerged for an even greater investment in managing the purpose of waste. It is a search for optimization and reuse to reduce the environmental impact and give new life to what would have been discarded before.

For this reason, the oil industry has been giving more attention to the procedure, with added technology, more efficient processes, and partnership with specialized companies.

How waste management is carried out throughout the chain

When we talk about waste management, we are considering your entire chain, from storage within marine units to transport and treatment on land.

For you to better understand how this works, we separated the whole process into its main points and worked out a little how each works. Look.

Types of waste produced by marine unit

First, we need to define what waste is in marine units and their categories. In this case, we are talking about all types of disposal coming from the production itself as well as the routine of the workers and the support service.

For management purposes, they are divided into classes:

  • Class I – hazardous waste, which may cause potential damage to human health and the environment.
  • Class IIA – non-damaging residues of non-inert characteristics, that is, they are soluble and can cause changes in contact with water.
  • Class IIB – non-harmful, insoluble, and recyclable waste, such as paper, aluminum, and wood.

Destination and treatment processes

The procedures for the destination and treatment of waste are determined according to the class in which they are classified. It all starts with storage within the marine unit itself. When a threshold or deadline is reached, the Environmental Services Management team collects and disembarks on land support bases.

The main job is screening. Alberto explains using drilling mud as an example of treated waste:

“When the material arrives, we have to know the characteristics of the product. The liquid is separated from the solid and we try to make the most of water and oil. We do the refining and blending. This blend can go to a cement plant, to be used. The greater the calorific value of the blend, the better for the cement plant it receives.”

The idea is always this, to reuse what is possible and to give an adequate destination for what is not – or that is the responsibility of other outsourced companies.

Safety Concern

The greatest ally of safety in waste management is control. Therefore, all this treatment is documented from its origin on the platform to the destination of each class.

Alberto gives some examples related to the logistics part that demonstrate this concern. “If I send 30 tons of mud, they must generate a Receipt Report, and, after treatment, they have the destination certificate. And we finished this project with the documents to close the technical note with IBAMA and INEA.”

As these are potentially hazardous waste, government regulations are always taken to the letter.

“Our service with the highest risk is tank cleaning, in which everyone has NR33 (confined space) and NR35 (work at height) training. They are oily materials, etc., you must be very careful, and we offer all possible protections”, Alberto tells us, adding that there was never a major accident in his work.

Sustainability projects

The reuse of waste is one of the innovative focuses in this work. It is not just an end, but an end.

An example that this concern with the environment is being prioritized in the industry is the creation of parallel programs that take advantage of this infrastructure for other processes.

Wilson Sons is a remarkable case. The company created a campaign to receive vegetable oil, batteries, and batteries from the population so that they can be treated using the procedures and equipment already structured to deal with the maritime operation.

Batteries are reprocessed and given a safe purpose for the environment, while vegetable oil is reused.

What is expected from the development of this management?

For Alberto Filho, this growing search for efficient and safe waste treatment must not stop. “In the past, people did not value garbage very much. Today, people are giving it more value. Society is creating a better philosophy on waste management and waste treatment”.

The idea is that the actions of large industries, such as the O&G sector, reflect on the very behavior of society and environmental concern becomes a motivator of innovation, not an obstacle to it.

For this, investments still need to be made. Alberto cites the need for licensing and infrastructure development so that travel is less, and treatment can be done in one place.

In other words, as in the entire evolution of the O&G sector, the future of waste management on offshore platforms is in the hands of technology. More efficient processes, smarter tools, and cutting-edge structure. It does not take long to get there.

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