CapOil - From waste to new product

May 15, 2024
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With this blog post, we aim to give our customers, partners, followers, and other stakeholders a deeper insight into SAR’s commitment to sustainability and circularity by showing how we turn waste into valuable resources.

What is CapOil?

CapOil is not just a type of oil; it is a valuable resource reclaimed from drill cuttings, delivered to us by our loyal customers in the energy industry. Drill cuttings is waste composed of rock drilled from boreholes, contaminated with drilling fluids used in various drilling operations.

CapOil – The name and the commitment

The name has a connection to the English word “capture,” referring to “winning or gaining control over a resource.” At SAR, we believe this accurately represents our vision, treatment processes, and this product we’ve developed.

CapOil is a valuable resource – for our customers and SAR

When oil is used in drilling fluids, this waste is sent to one of SAR’s treatment facilities, where it undergoes a treatment process. The cuttings go to the facility closest to where they come in, whether it’s Risavika, Averøy, Sandnessjøen, or Hammerfest. Quantities, logistics, and capacities are also contributing factors for which treatment facility is used. Most of the water from the processes goes to SAR’s water treatment plant at Mongstad for further final processing.

Our promise to our customers is that we will always handle their waste as a resource. SAR has invested significant resources in finding efficient treatment methods to ensure the oil can be reused. With CapOil, we demonstrate that even the toughest challenges can be turned into opportunities when we work together toward a common goal.

The cargo ship Andrea is used to transport CapOil.

From “waste oil” to a new product

It’s been a long and challenging process to produce an oil product with properties that meet defined specifications and comply with applicable regulations. After much hard work and dedication, we’ve recently developed new methods that increase the quality of the oil, and “open doors for new opportunities.” Many skilled professionals at SAR have been involved in sharing knowledge throughout the process, with close collaboration across our four treatment departments. Our environmental advisors have also contributed significantly with registrations and approvals that have turned what was once defined as “waste oil” into a new product.

“To establish waste-to-product has been important for us at SAR. It not only provides a recycled product we can be proud of, but also enhances our efforts to utilize the value in all waste we receive. By doing this, we improve the quality of our processes, enhance our understanding of the potential values of waste, and, not least, ensure safe handling throughout the entire process.” – Tor Olav Schibevaag, CEO

An internal technical group has been established to plan capacity,  quality development and logistics. We also collaborate with an independent external partner who verifies the quality of the oil in all shipments.

We see opportunities for even better utilization of CapOil

A central goal for SAR’s management has always been to continue exploring opportunities to better utilize this resource. There is believed to be significant potential to extract even more CapOil also from other oil products in the future. The goal for the future is to develop the product or similar product so that it can also be reused for other purposes. There are political directives and other factors to consider, but we remain hopeful that we can find solutions that will be attractive in terms of sustainability/reuse and economic savings.

The collaboration between SAR’s different departments has been crucial for progress and creating innovative solutions. For example, our treatment plant in Risavika has recently developed methods that allow us to extract more CapOil from the waste we receive compared to previous years. Ever since SAR started processing drilling waste, there has been a strong focus on obtaining a cleaner “residual product” from the process. This focus only grew stronger when the waste could be defined as a product rather than waste. With the new product, rigorous monitoring and quality assurance are required to meet the defined specifications. Several technical adjustments have been made to ensure we always meet the specifications

“We are extremely proud that we’ve achieved significant knowledge growth as a direct result of developing CapOil. We have shifted from focusing on stable operations to also achieving optimal operations!” – Kjell J. Røstad, Operations Manager.

How contaminated oil becomes a new product – the process in brief

With clean electricity as the energy source, we transform the waste in the first phase using thermal treatment to extract the various fluids present in the waste. This is achieved by changing the aggregate state from liquid to gas, followed by condensing the different fluids based on their respective condensation points.

In the subsequent process, we separate the various fractions and different hydrocarbon compositions into their respective tanks to maintain control over the composition of CapOil. In the next step, we refine the oil and continuously test it throughout the further processing to ensure it meets the comprehensive specification requirements set for CapOil.

The picture shows the different components from the treatment process. CapOil on the right. 

CapOil and the outlook for the future

Like most industries, there are needs and market trends that will influence the solutions and the quantity of CapOil we will be able to produce. The market and its needs will evolve, but the demand for circular solutions will continue to grow. Considering that there will still be a need for energy in the years to come, we believe we have developed a circular product with significant potential for many years ahead. Our goal is to deliver 15,000 tons of CapOil annually.

We are planning our efforts not only to meet today’s requirements but also to lay the groundwork for a better future.

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