Bulletin 2012-08

Bulletin 2012-08: Revision of Directive 050: Drilling Waste Management

VIEW PDF (48.08 KB)

Revision of Directive 050: Drilling Waste Management

May 02, 2012

The 1996 edition of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Directive 050: Drilling Waste Management has undergone review and been revised. The 2012 edition of Directive 050 provides a comprehensive set of requirements for the appropriate management of drilling wastes, which are designed to:

  • provide the licensee of a well or pipeline with methods to manage drilling waste that are protective of the environment and harmonized with other waste management practices,
  • enable sites used to manage drilling waste to be restored to equivalent land capability, and
  • ensure that drilling waste management practices meet ERCB requirements and environmental outcomes through monitoring and reporting.


Directive 050 was last updated in 1996. Since then, there have been significant advancements in drilling mud formulations, waste management options, and soil quality and reclamation guidelines. In addition, the ERCB, Alberta Environment and Water (AEW), and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) have clarified roles and responsibilities for regulating waste management. The ERCB is responsible for maintaining and administering oilfield waste management requirements for the upstream petroleum industry, including those for drilling waste which is a type of oilfield waste.

In September 2007, the ERCB published a draft revision of Directive 050 and invited feedback on it. The comments received were assessed against current soil, environmental, and analytical sciences, as well as against regulatory requirements and procedures. To assist with this assessment, the ERCB held meetings and corresponded with representatives from industry and environmental associations, and federal and provincial government agencies. The 2007 draft edition of Directive 050 was revised and released for a second round of public review on April 18, 2011.

Responses were again received from representatives from industry, environmental consulting companies, and government agencies. The ERCB, in consultation with AEW and SRD, considered the comments in finalizing the 2012 revision of Directive 050. A summary of the feedback and the ERCB’s response to that feedback can be found with Directive 050 on the ERCB website at www.ercb.ca.

What’s New in this Edition?

  • The various methods for applying waste to land set out in the 1996 edition of Directive 050 have been retained, but the requirements for each method are now based on preventing the buildup of hydrocarbon and metal concentrations in the receiving soil to concentrations that exceed Alberta soil remediation guidelines. With the exception of the mix-bury-cover disposal method, nitrogen loading rates, sodium loading rates, and allowable soil electrical conductivity and sodium adsorption ratio increases have been established for each disposal method based on the receiving soil category and depth. For the mix-bury-cover disposal method, a soil endpoint concentration for nitrogen has been established in place of the nitrogen loading rate.
  • Drilling waste and receiving soil assessment requirements have been updated.
  • Post-disposal sampling requirements of drilling waste disposal areas have been developed based on drilling waste quality (e.g., concentration of metals and hydrocarbons, salinity content), sodium and nitrogen loading rates, and the receiving soil category and depth.
  • Requirements for the disposal of drilling wastes onto forested Public Lands have been developed.
  • Requirements for remixing an old drilling waste disposal area have been developed.
  • Updates and clarifications are also provided regarding
  • Nonland application techniques that licensees can use to manage drilling waste, including
    • subsurface disposal of drilling waste while drilling,
    • sending drilling waste to an approved waste management facility,
    • thermal treatment of drilling wastes, and
    • the application process to obtain approval to modify a drilling waste management method or use an alternative method.
    • The documents listed below have also been developed and can be found along with Directive 050 on the ERCB website at www.ercb.ca:
    • Frequently Asked Questions on Drilling Waste Management; and
    • Information for Landowners on Consent for the Disposal, Treatment, or Storage of Drilling Wastes

Other Amendments

The Pipeline Regulation will also be amended to

  • define drilling waste as the mud and cuttings generated while directional drilling for the purpose of pipeline construction,
  • identify that, unless otherwise authorized by the Board, drilling waste must be managed in accordance with Directive 050 and Directive 058: Oilfield Waste Management Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry.

Effective Dates

This edition of Directive 050 supersedes the 1996 edition of Directive 050 and incorporates, with updates and clarifications, the requirements set out in the following publications, which are now rescinded:

  • Interim Directive (ID) 81-01: Subsurface Disposal of Drilling Fluids.
  • ID 99-5: Disposal of Drilling Waste Associated with EUB Regulated Pipeline and/or Other Oil and Gas Related Below Ground Boring Activities.
  • Informational Letter (IL) 2001-3: Management of Drilling Wastes Associated with Advanced Gel Chemical Systems.
  • Directive 045: Digital Data Submission of Drilling Waste Disposal Notification.
  • Section 2.1 of Directive 055—Addendum-2011-10-11: Interim Requirements for Aboveground Synthetically-Lined Wall Storage Systems, Updates to Liner Requirements, and Optional Diking Requirements for Single-Walled Aboveground Storage Tanks.

Revised or newly introduced requirements in the 2012 edition of Directive 050 are effective six months from the date of publication. Requirements from other ERCB directives, interim directives, and informational letters that have been consolidated in the directive are in effect the date the 2012 edition of Directive 050 is issued. Requirements for drilling waste management methods that previously required a site specific approval from the ERCB (as specified in the 1996 edition of Directive 050 or other ERCB publications) are also in effect the date the 2012 edition is issued. Requirements from other ERCB directives or interim directives that have been summarized in Directive 050 are also in effect the date the 2012 edition is issued, but will be superseded by any changes or updates made to the originating documents. Refer to Sections 1.1 and 1.5 of Directive 050 for further details.

Information Sessions

The ERCB will host information sessions on the 2012 edition of Directive 050 on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 1:00 p. m. to 4:00 p. m. and Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 8:00 a. m. to 12:00 p. m. and 1:00 p. m. to 4:00 p. m., at the ERCB Head Office, 250 – 5 Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, in the Bow River/Glacier Room on the 3rd floor. If you are interested in registering for a session, e-mail BOS.Admin@ercb.ca with your preferred date and time.

The 2012 edition of Directive 050 is available on the ERCB website www.ercb.ca under Industry Zone : Rules, Regulations, and Requirements : Directives. Printed copies of the directive may be purchased from ERCB Information Services, Suite 1000, 250 – 5 Street SW; telephone: 403-297-8311 or 1-855-297-8311 (toll free); fax: 403-297-7040; e-mail: infoservices@ercb.ca. Direct any questions regarding this bulletin or the revised edition of Directive 050 to the ERCB Waste & Storage Section by e-mail to Directive050@ercb.ca.

<original signed by>

Stephen Smith
Executive Manager
Applications Branch