18/04/2023  •  5 mins read

From Trash to Treasure: Mauritania's Journey to Recycling

Nur Liyana Mat Temizi & Norzila Samot-Samat | Illustrations by Ahmad Saiful Syazwan Ahmad Jamil

What would you do if you had unused wires lying around the house? The answer would be to bring them to a proper recycling centre for disposal. But what if the wires themselves were the size and weight of multiple cars? Guess what, same answer!

PETRONAS’ expansion to Mauritania in 2007 through subsidiary PETRONAS Carigali Mauritania 1 Pty Ltd (PCMPL) resulted in many discoveries in the Chinguetti Field as its first-ever subsea deepwater operations. Subsequently, PCMPL continues to persevere as operations entered the Abandonment & Decommissioning (A&D) phase in 2017 by embarking on a waste ‘recycle and re-purpose’ initiative ensuring the waste recovered from the field is sustainably managed. Aligning with the PETRONAS Sustainability Agenda in ensuring proactive management of air emissions, waste, water and effluents and their impact, PCMPL aims to reduce environmental impact while upholding ethical business practices until the very end of its operations.

Throughout the Chinguetti A&D Project execution, various types of waste were recovered from the field and in need of proper waste management. This included hazardous and non-hazardous wastes, resulting from Hydrocarbon, contaminated risers, Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) residuals, Christmas trees, manifolds, umbilical cables, tubulars, control lines, chemicals, and their associated structure. Specific methods are required to handle every type of waste, ensuring that we pose a minimal threat to the environment and its inhabitants.

How do we recycle waste as heavy as 300 cars?

Firstly, identified wastes are recovered from the field and transported onshore in Mauritania. Once they arrive, these wastes are stored at an onshore storage facility and prepared for disposal .

Subsequently, the wastes are categorised based on whether they are hazardous or non-hazardous (metallic and non-metallic waste category). Hazardous waste will undergo special handling and treatment or cleaning, while non-hazardous waste will be sent to a nearby disposal facility to be re-purposed and recycled.

All waste handling will take place at licensed and approved handling facilities for the process of cleaning and decontamination, storage, and transportation to final disposal locations such as recycling plants and smelters.

Recycling Christmas Trees

A total of 15 Christmas trees, weighing approximately 531.1 metric tonnes (MT) were sent to a local recycling plant where the structures/equipment were melted in a high-temperature incinerator to produce steel rebar for local construction activities.

Recycling Metallic Waste

A total of 582.64mt of scrap metal waste, consisting of nine mooring chains, mooring connection, umbilical termination unit (UTU), cobra heads and three manifolds were recycled at a local Mauritanian steel incineration plant. These scraps were melted at a temperature of 1,680-degrees Celsius and processed to form the rebars used for construction with a higher grade of FE-500.

Recycling Umbilical Cables

A total of 81.57mt of umbilical cables were stripped and segregated into plastic, copper, and steel components before being sent to identified recycling facilities nearby.

Recycling Mooring Ropes

Mooring ropes are recycled to be reused as small-sized ropes, benefitting local fishermen and fishing industry in Mauritania.

Responsible Disposal of Radioactive Waste and NORM waste

The radioactive source (Ba133) in the Multiphase Flow Meter (MPFM) is removed and separated from the structure by an authorised technician. The radioactive waste is then shipped to Norway for disposal at an authorised radioactive disposal facility site due to the unavailability and capability of the local disposal site.

Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) waste is sent to a lab for analysis to evaluate the sample before sending it to an authorised disposal facility for permanent disposal in another country.

Residual oily water is also being treated and re-used. Water will be used in construction activities and treated oil is used as fuel in incinerators.

From your home to big scale projects, recycling is the way to go!

Similar to recycling at home by segregating bottles and separating plastics, PCMPL is also doing the exact same thing but with a bigger amount of waste and structured identification of recycling facilities.

As the end draws near for PETRONAS’ presence in Mauritania, PCMPL will continue to operate responsibly every step of the way in accordance with local regulations, best practices and international legislation. This initiative showcases PCMPL’s commitment in supporting PETRONAS’ Sustainability Agenda, safeguarding the environment, and conducting responsible governance towards Net Zero Carbon Emission by 2050.

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