With the Oil, comes the Mud…and Emissions?
Latitudes Environmental has recently completed a number of air permit applications for a drilling fluids company having facilities in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
Drilling fluid, or ‘mud’ manufacturers are experiencing a revival, following the recent uptick in oil and gas production- particularly in the onshore shale plays. Mud batching facilities produce both oil-based and water-based muds, and are typically located close to the hydrocarbon basins that they service.
Mud serves a variety of functions during the drilling operation, such as keeping the drill bit cool, transporting cuttings to the surface, and providing wellbore stability. Key ingredients include:
· Barite (barium sulfate, a weighing agent)
· Bentonite clay (to improve viscosity)
· Lime (calcium hydroxide, for chemical balance)
· Diesel fuel (for lubrication and performance)
So, why do you need an air permit?
Some mud ingredients, such as barite and bentonite, start out as dry products which generate particulate matter (PM). The diesel fuel storage tanks and the oil-based mud storage tanks produce volatile organic compounds (VOC). Both PM and VOC are regulated air pollutants, and require permit authorization through their state environmental agencies.
The type of air permit required is primarily based on the emissions for each pollutant, calculated in tons per year. For instance, the mud facilities we recently evaluated are being permitted as ‘minor sources’, because they generate less than 10 tons per year of PM and VOC.
There are many technologies available to control or further reduce emissions. For instance, a facility may use dust filter socks or collectors to reduce the PM emissions. The total emissions calculations will then consider the efficiencies of these devices.
Air permitting has been a great service line for Latitudes. Many of these facilities also need support on stormwater permits and SPCC Plans - which we are glad to support them on.