Norway-based Thermtech AS is pleased to announce that waste management specialist Plambeck has purchased a stationary Thermal Mechanical Cuttings Cleaner (TCC®) system, which will be used to treat drill cuttings from the Mittelplate production island.

The safe crude oil production from Germany’s most productive oil field, Mittelplate, has enjoyed an outstanding reputation in the global oil industry in terms of responsible, environmentally sound oil extraction in an ecologically sensitive environment for more than 30 years now.

Cuxhaven-based Plambeck has been awarded a multi-year contract by DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG, the Hamburg-based International oil and gas company, to treat their drill cuttings.

Drill cuttings are pieces of rock that come out of a well when it is drilled to an oil or gas reservoir.

During drilling, a mineral or synthetic oily lubricant known as drilling mud is used to lubricate the drill bit and carry the drill cuttings to the surface, where they are separated from the mud.

The mud is reused where possible and the drill cuttings are transported from the Mittelplate to Cuxhaven for further treatment and disposal.

DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG project teams have evaluated various options for the treatment of the drill cuttings aiming at the best environmental and economically justified solution.

Using the TCC technology from Thermtech, the drilling fluids that are in the cuttings can be separated from the pieces of rock and be re-used in the drilling process, while the left-over pieces of rock, the mineral parts, are free of oil and are no longer contaminated waste and may be subjected to recycling and be used in various applications (eg. in road construction, concrete or cement production, asphalt).

Compared to other applied solutions such as cuttings re-injection (CRI) or incineration, this is by far not only the most environmentally friendly solution because re-use of waste components is preferred over discharge, it is also economically attractive because no new fluids need to be purchased.

The Plambeck site in Cuxhaven will be modified and made available for the installation of the TCC unit and the plan is to be operational by mid-2018.

Background information

The year 1985 saw the beginning of construction of the Mittelplate drilling and production island off the western coast of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, where Germany’s biggest oil reservoir has been in production since 1987.

DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG as operator and its partner Wintershall Holding GmbH, each with a 50% stake, have already produced over 34 million tonnes of crude.

Thanks to its high safety and environmental protection standards, the drilling and production island is regarded as a positive example of responsible oil production.

In addition, domestic oil production in Dithmarschen supports 1,000 jobs along the western coast of Schleswig-Holstein and in Cuxhaven (Lower Saxony).