In meeting the world's climate-change goals, the oil and gas industry will have to play a significant part, although the specific initiatives chosen to reduce the emissions may vary, re-engineering waste products that contribute to carbon emission into useful recyclable products for the oil and gas industry can significantly contribute to developing a circular economy and sustainable environment.

This study considered recycling finely ground auto-tire rubber as an effective drilling fluid additive. Waste tire, which is a major air pollutant when burned, was collected from a national recycling company. A laboratory study of using the finely ground auto-tire rubber waste as an effective fluid loss control and bridging additive was performed and compared with sized graphite, which is a commonly used bridging material in the industry.

A commonly used water-based drilling fluid formulation was employed as a base fluid for all the experiments. The performance of the drilling fluid containing the waste auto-tire finely ground rubber was assessed by conducting standard rheological measurements and API fluid loss, where concentrations ranging between (0.0 – 10 lb/bbl) were added to the base fluid. The effect of adding the waste auto-tire rubber on plastic viscosity, yield point, apparent viscosity, and fluid loss was assessed. In addition, the possibility of replacing the sized graphite with the proposed material was investigated.

The results showed a significant reduction in a fluid loss by up to 23% by the addition of (10 lb/bbl) of finely ground auto-tire rubber waste to the base fluid (containing 5% bentonite). Furthermore, analysis of the test measurements showed a minor to negligible effect on the rheological properties compared to the base fluid. Also, it revealed that waste auto-tire finely ground rubber can successfully functionalize as a fluid loss additive and completely replace sized graphite as a bridging material, where replacing the sized graphite with the proposed material resulted in a reduction in the fluid loss of up to 21%.

The promising results obtained in this study highlight the huge potential for this initiative in utilizing recycled auto-tire waste materials as a possible drilling fluid additive and demonstrate a sustainable technique with large-scale application in the oil and gas field whilst reducing solid waste disposal and consequent CO2 emissions resulting from burning waste tires.

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