ABSTRACT:

The large oversupply of sulphur predicted for the foreseeable future will oblige operators in remote areas to identify effective solutions for the long-term management of the sulphur produced in their operations. Current practice is to store sulphur on the surface in the form of massive blocks. In the future, however, sulphur that is logistically-remote from the market may have to be stored for decades, leaving the operator with uncertain economic and environmental liabilities. This paper examines slurry fracture injection (SFI) as a process for achieving permanent and safe sulphur disposal by sequestration in deep geological structures. SFI consists in blending finely-ground solid wastes into an aqueous slurry which is injected under fracturing conditions through wells into deep underground formations. The target formation must assure confinement and have suitable geomechanical and petrophysical properties to accept the solid slurry. While increasingly employed for the disposal of drill cuttings and other oilfield wastes, application of SFI to sulphur disposal depends on the economics and technical feasibility of large scale operations. This paper presents the results of a techno-economical evaluation of the large-scale disposal of sulphur via SFI. All the principal technical and operational requirements are discussed, and the related uncertainties are quantified in terms of their economic impact on the sulphur disposal cost. Provided that certain conditions are met (mainly large waste volume, suitable formation for injection, and favourable site locations), the cost of SFI disposal (ca. 18$/t of sulphur) is roughly comparable to that of the more traditional, but temporary, storage techniques. The main factors which affect the economics of the process are the injection service costs and slurry transport, the capital investments for drilling and completing the injection wells, and the cost of workover jobs

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