- Copyright ©2005. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Division of Environmental Geosciences. All rights reserved.
The empowerment of small independent oil and gas producers to solve their own remediation problems will result in greater environmental compliance and more effective protection of the environment, as well as making small producers more self-reliant. Here, we report on the effectiveness of a low-cost method of remediation of a combined spill of crude oil and brine in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, Oklahoma. Specifically, we have used hay and fertilizer as amendments for remediation of both the oil and the brine. No gypsum was used. Three spills of crude oil plus produced water brine were treated with combinations of ripping, fertilizers and hay, and a downslope interception trench in an effort to demonstrate an inexpensive, easily implemented, and effective remediation plan. No statistically significant effect of treatment on the biodegradation of crude oil was, however observed. Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) reduction clearly proceeded in the presence of brine contamination. The average TPH half-life considering all impacted sites was 267 days. The combination of hay addition, ripping, and a downslope interception trench was superior to hay addition with ripping or ripping plus an interception trench in terms of rates of sodium and chloride leaching from the impacted sites. Reductions in salt inventories (36 months) were 73% in the site with hay addition, ripping, and an interception trench, 40% in the site with hay addition and ripping only, and less than 3% in the site with ripping and an interception trench.
Kerry Sublette is a professor of chemical engineering and geosciences and Sarkeys Chair of Environmental Engineering at the University of Tulsa. He also serves as the Director of the Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium, an Environmental Protection Agency research center. His research interests include the remediation of oil- and brine-contaminated sites and ecological indicators of the restoration of damaged soil ecosystems.Aditya Moralwar graduated from the University of Tulsa with an M.S.E. degree in chemical engineering in 2004. He is currently employed by ASW, Inc., in Nebraska.
Laura P. Ford has been an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Tulsa since January 1999. She earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Oklahoma State University and an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She studies bioremediation of brine spills and vacuum chemical dry etching of metals.
Kathleen E. Duncan is a research assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, holding a joint appointment in the Department of Botany and Microbiology and the Institute for Energy and the Environment. Her research interests include using molecular techniques to study how microbial communities respond to chemical contamination and evaluate how they recover after remediation.
Greg Thoma is an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. His current research activity includes phytoremediation of oil-contaminated soil, probabilistic reliability modeling of oil and gas exploration and production facilities, in-situ remediation of contaminated aquifers, and development of novel tagging methods for monitoring the fate of pathogens in fractured karst subsurface environments.
Josh Brokaw graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2004 with an M.S. degree in botany. He is currently a doctoral student in botany at Washington State University.