The new Mittelplate tank storage facility at Lübbertkai in Cuxhaven was officially opened end of June. Around 80 guests from political circles and the business community attended the festive event in the historic Hapag Emigrant Halls and the subsequent guided tours of the tank storage facility and ultra-modern processing facility for drill cuttings located in Humphry-Davy-Strasse. The operator of the new facilities is the Cuxhaven-based enterprise Peter Plambeck Umweltservice.
The Mittelplate drilling and production island has been extracting crude oil from the National Park in the Wadden Sea tidal flats incident-free for 32 years now. Part of the successful overall concept is the due and proper disposal of the drill cuttings. This material is a mix of drilled rock cuttings and drilling mud and occurs whenever a well is spudded. In the course of the Beta Süd field development project, the wells are becoming increasingly longer and the volumes of drill cuttings are likewise set to increase.
In the past, the drill cuttings were disposed of at a facility located far away. Now the material can be thermically processed by means of a hammer mill in such a manner that the expensive oil contained in the oil-base drilling mud can be recaptured with a high purity level. Mixed with further additives, it can then be reused on Mittelplate island. This circulation process is beneficial to the environment and also saves money.
In their welcome address, Dr Ulrich Getsch (Mayor of Cuxhaven), and Enak Ferleman (Parliamentary State Secretary) underscored the key role of oil production from Mittelplate for the port along with the good collaboration between Wintershall Dea and local service providers in Cuxhaven.
Each day some 50 t (at peak times up to 200 t) of drill cuttings are produced, which are then transported twice daily by the small-draught drilling island supply vessels to the land base at Helgoländer Kai. Next, the cuttings are processed using technically complex methods. The hammer mill is part of the newly established recycling facility at Humphry-Davy-Strasse with a capacity of 15,000 t per annum. What emerge from this process are the refined drilling mud oil and the dried rock chips used in road building, for instance.
The recycled drilling oil is used at the new tank storage facility on Lübbertkai for the production of new drilling mud. The tank storage facility and its 16 tanks with a volume of 100 cbm each supply the ongoing drilling activities with drilling mud, making use of the surface and waste water produced on Mittelplate island.
As part of his highly informative presentation on the function of the facilities in question, Wintershall Dea Project Head Dirk Kowalczyk expressed his thanks to the Plambeck company for its many years' reliability and general willingness to innovate. “From a technical point of view, the facility certainly sets standards: after all, this is where the world’s best technologies for processing drill cuttings are deployed,” emphasized Kowalczyk.