A review of the current options for the treatment and safe disposal of drill cuttings

Andrew Ball, Richard Stewart, Kirsten Schliephake

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    152 Citations (Scopus)


    Drilling for the exploration and extraction of oil requires the use of drilling fluids which are continuously pumped down and returned carrying the rock phase that is extracted from the well. The potential environmental impacts of contaminated fluids from drilling operations have attracted increasing community awareness and scrutiny. This review article highlights current advances in the treatment of drill cuttings and compares the technologies in terms of cost, time and space requirements. Traditionally, a range of non-biological methods have been employed for the disposal of drill cuttings including burial pits, landfills and re-injection, chemical stabilization and solidification and thermal treatments such as incineration and thermal desorption. More recently, bioremediation has been successfully applied as a treatment process for cuttings. This review provides a current comparison of bioremediation technologies and non-biological technologies for the treatment of contaminated drill cuttings providing information on a number of factors that need to be taken into account when choosing the best technology for drilling waste management including the environmental risks associated with disposal of drilling wastes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)457-473
    Number of pages17
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


    • bioremediation of drill cuttings
    • Disposal of drill cuttings
    • drilling muds
    • drilling wastes
    • oil extraction
    • treatment of drilling wastes


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