On the edge of technology | 337 (July 2017)

There’s more to waste than meets the eye. Oil Journal reports on the inner workings of the highly complex system of waste management at LUKOIL’s Block 10 project in Iraq.

2017-07-25 10:17 Views 506

On the edge of technology

There’s more to waste than meets the eye. Oil Journal reports on the inner workings of the highly complex system of waste management at LUKOIL’s Block 10 project in Iraq.

Jorge Castaneda

Waste is always an undesired byproduct of any human act iv it y, a nd pet roleu m operations are no exception. The ideal approach to waste management is well known – reduce, reuse, recycle, and properly dispose. Yet is not always easy in practice, especially in countries like Iraq where government surveillance can be poor and the required infrastructure is not always in place.

Nevertheless, the corporate responsibility of operators like LUKOIL concerning the environment and local communities must stay at an international level regardless of governmental requirements. New technologies are coming into the market. They make possible the in-house treatment of certain types of waste, reducing final volumes for landfill disposal at a low cost.

Within the Block 10 project in Iraq (which is owned 60% by LUKOIL, and 40% by Japanbased INPEX) efforts have been made to keep the impact of waste as low as possible; yet further measures will still need to be applied to improve final results.

Creating awareness

The first step is to create awareness among everybody involved in the project. For example, it is generally accepted that the main duty of security contractors is to keep us secure, and how they behave regarding waste collection is secondary. At Block 10 they used to throw out plastic bottles after drinking water at police check points, on the roads during break stops, or just in the open desert during special missions. They also used to throw out food containers after having lunch in the open desert while on special missions.

However the Block 10 HSE structural unit (B10 HSE) is convinced that the proper collection of waste by security contractors does not have any negative impact on the quality of provided security services. Therefore the corresponding observations were made at the MST (Mobile Security Team) level – and it did not help; then, at the supervisor’s level – it did not help, either; finally in the HSE Observations System (HSE OS), an intranet tool was developed by the B10 HSE team that would generate written HSE observations and automatically deliver them to all concerned parties. It would also update and follow them up online.

Nowadays Block 10 security contractors do not litter in outer areas, but collect their rubbish in bags inside the cars and then dispose them in waste bins when accommodation camps are reached.

Classification of the waste

On the edge of technology

A more difficult task is to classify the waste at the source for recycling. The existing categories are: plastic, metal, general waste and hazardous waste. Unfortunately, the response from personnel has been poor and more training is required in order to ensure proper classification of rubbish. Nevertheless, with the support of the Block 10 social structural unit, a local company willing to take the collected recyclable materials for free from the Block 10 facilities was identified. Thus last year approximately 12 m3 of scrap metal was delivered.

Final disposal

According to Basra Oil Company (BOC) requirements, the treatment and final disposal of all hazardous waste (solids and liquids) must be provided exclusively by the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology. For this purpose the company had a properly isolated landfill constructed for the disposal of general (i.e. unclassified) waste in an area approved by the BOC. A local subcontractor permitted to transport solid non-hazardous waste was subsequently hired for collection and disposal of waste in the landfill.

Important things to do

  • Recycling: more training of personnel is required in order to ensure the roper classification of solid waste at the source. We must also increase the number of available bins to ensure all types of waste can be classified in each collection point.
  • Organic waste composting: it is almost a must for future contracts because new inexpensive technologies are now available which ensure the full treatment of organic waste in 24 hours or less. A composting machine with a daily capacity of 25 Kg costs around $10 thousand, and one can process all organic waste of a 100-person camp using only natural bacteria and electricity. Other technology based on dehydration comes even cheaper at a cost of $6 thousand for a 20 Kg daily capacity machine with an average process time of 3-4 hours. No installation and almost no maintenance are required for all this type of equipment. The final product is a soil material suitable for plant feeding that can be used inside the camp or shared with local communities.
  • Household wastewater treatment: the use of aerobic bacteria for the treatment of wastewater is not new, but the improvement of this technology makes it possible to treat volumes of 34 m3 per day, enough for a 100-person camp, in just one tank, for a price around $30 thousand. The installation is simple, as is the maintenance. The exit water is not harmful to the environment and can be used to water plants inside the camp or spread to any open outside area. Control with periodic analysis of exit water is required. With this solution, no subcontractor for the transportation of wastewater would be needed anymore.
  • Control of subcontractors: in order to ensure subcontractors are delivering solid waste to the designated landfill and wastewater to treatment plant, it is necessary to implement the control of trucks by means of a GPS tracking system.
  • Governmental solutions: they are not expected in the near future in Iraq for waste management. Nevertheless our projects can serve as a good example for local government as leaders understand that proper waste management is vital for the sustainable development of their communities. Zero-waste solutions are now a reality, as demonstrated recently in the small city of Sharjah, UAE, which implemented such a project at an estimated cost of $70-100 million. LUKOIL should stand of forefront of this technology’s application to the world of oil & gas.



    Graduated first as Master on Physics & Mathematics from Saint Petersburg State University in 1996, and then as Oil & Gas Engineer in 2012 from Tyumen State Oil and Gas University, Russian Federation. He has been working for LUKOIL since 2006 on the Condor project in Colombia (since 2010 as HSE Manager). In 2013 he joined Block 10 project team as HSE Manager. Having some programming skills he developed an online intranet application for the management of HSE observations, which is now in use.

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