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Recycling company gives 'Peak' performance in Killdeer

The Peak-DCM Solidifier, above, is used to solidify a variety of sludge, such as drill cuttings and frack tank bottoms produced in oilfields, with an absorber agent to produce a soil-type material. Symmetry Oilfield Solutions of Johnstown, Colo., demonstrated the recycling machine Monday and Tuesday in Killdeer.

A Johnstown, Colo., company has found a way to recycle sludge produced from drilling oil, which they said could change the industry's black sludge into a greener product.

"The conventional process that is in place now is just solidifying the sludge with fly ash and burying it," said Drew Nelson, Symmetry Oilfield Solutions executive vice president. "Our solution is rather than burying the problem, we are cleaning it. We are fixing it."

Symmetry brought its product, the Peak-DCM Solidifier, to Killdeer on Monday and Tuesday for a demonstration presented to oilfield companies. Nelson has taken the lead on the portable machine which can process up to 50 barrels of sludge per hour.

During the drilling process, a mixture of rock and oil known as drilling cuttings are produced from the borehole. Because they are mixed with hydrocarbons, they must be disposed of. Rielley Ray, owner and president of operations of BCR Services in Dickinson, said the only way to do this is to mix it with fly ash and bury it in a pit.

"You'll hear a lot of things about these pits on the drill locations," he said. "Things fly into them. Birds get stuck into them, and they can be harmful."

The Solidifier mixes sludge, such as drill cuttings and frack tank bottoms, with an absorber agent called Geozorb, which is also a Symmetry product, to dry it out into a soil-type material. Drew Nelson said the machinery recycles sludge, helping drilling efforts and companies become greener.

"We are treating the sludge and transforming it from something bad into something good," he said.

Nelson said the possibilities for the treated material are limitless. He said companies will get a clean product that can be used for road base, fill dirt and construction. Though Symmetry is in the final stages of testing, he said the soil could be used to plant crops.

"Whether it stays on location and gets graded down or gets used again as cropland, we are very confident it can be used as safe construction material," he said.

BCR Services bought the first Peak-DCM Solidifier after the demonstration. Ray said his company is ready to buy as many Solidifiers as possible, adding BCR has 15 on hold.

"It is really going to revolutionize the way w­e drill in North Dakota," Ray said. "It is years above its competitors. They are looking to move into North Dakota with a force."

Nelson's father and Symmetry CEO Mark Nelson said the company has gone through a long process to create the Solidifier.

"We've made a big investment in this product," Mark Nelson said. "(BCR Services) is positioned to help us bring it to market. It just gives us more encouragement."

The Solidifier will cost less than $100,000, with the Geozorb absorbent at $20 a barrel. Drew Nelson said Symmetry wanted to make a product that was not only environmentally friendly, but cost effective for oilfield companies as well.

"As good as it is for the environment we want it to help the industry too," he said. "It is more cost-effective than the current fly ash and disposal method."

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