Exxon Mobil – Iraq

Sector: Oil and gas
Equipment: Two A1200 Rocket Composter

The backstory

One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, Exxon Mobil is an organisation which cares about sustainable operations – utilising the Operation Integrity Management System (OMIS) to assess the socio-economic and environmental impact at any of its sites.

The oil giant also considers waste high on the risk assessment agenda and prioritises the Waste Hierarchy – reduce, re-use and recycle, before disposal or landfill.

The firm’s West Qurna oilfield – located 20 miles west of neighbouring Iran – is one of the largest in Iraq and produces close to a half million barrels of oil per day. In recent years, it’s also been subject to greater growth and infrastructure implementation to enable the more efficient capture of gas that is generated at the time of oil extraction. And this was the site which needed our attention…

The challenge

By their very nature, many oil and gas areas are situated in remote locations – often in less developed countries, where waste and recycling infrastructure is vastly underdeveloped. As a result, often the most common answer for many recyclable commodities is landfill.

Therefore the firm’s main challenge arose from the half-a-tonne per day of food waste generated at its workers’ canteens – how and where could the material be processed and transformed into a valuable resource?

Instead of shipping this waste stream off to be landfilled – emitting toxic methane gases into the atmosphere – the firm turned its attention to on-site in-vessel composting.

The solution

In order to help Exxon Mobil to process the three-and-a-half-tonnes of food waste produced within the catering facilities each week, our Tidy Planet team recommended investing in two A1200 Rocket Composters – which would allow for composting at source.

As part of the overall project, the oilfield was also being equipped with a small-scale Materials Recycling Facility, where the waste wood from the site – from packing crates and pallets alike – was to be shredded to minimise its volume and subsequent transportation costs. Now, a proportion of this clean wood waste is directed to the composting plant, where it provides the carbon and moisture balance for the wet food wastes that need composting.

Due to the disturbance of the land associated with the pipeline project, the soil surrounding the site lacks structure and the ability to retain moisture.

However, by implementing the in-vessel composting, the oilfield not only has its own closed-loop, autonomous solution for processing one of its key waste streams, but the soil-improver product it creates can be used in much-needed land remediation and growing projects. As a result, this helps release nutrients slowly into the ground – promoting healthy and strong roots and beneficial microorganisms, all of which help to sustain plant life.