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Hemp Inc.’s new product makes oil drilling a bit more eco-friendly 

click to enlarge Bruce Perlowin is using hemp to do everything from cleaning up the fossil fuel industry to helping veterans heal. - CMW MEDIA
  • CMW Media
  • Bruce Perlowin is using hemp to do everything from cleaning up the fossil fuel industry to helping veterans heal.
‘Eco-friendly oil drilling” may sound like an oxymoronic ad slogan cooked up in a BP marketing meeting, but a new product from Hemp Inc., a North Carolina-based company, does show promise in making the process a little greener.

The company’s subsidiary, Industrial Hemp Manufacturing, LLC, finalized an exclusive deal last month with Quadco, LLC, a leading provider of products, equipment and services for the Alaskan oil and gas industry, to distribute their new kenaf- (a fibrous plant) and hemp-derived well drilling product, DrillWall.

DrillWall is known as a loss circulation material (LCM), and is used in oil and gas well drilling to seal the hole around the drill bit to prevent the drilling lubricant, known in the industry as “mud,” from leaking into fissures or other porous formations in the earth around the drill hole. DrillWall is a first-of-its-kind LCM made from the cores of kenaf and hemp plants. It’s biodegradable, insoluble in water and nontoxic to humans.

“We look forward to working with [Quadco] to provide an environmentally friendly solution for seepage and loss circulation control in Alaska,” says Industrial Hemp Manufacturing COO David Schmitt in a press release. According to the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage, when the spending of state revenues from oil production is taken into account, the oil industry accounts for roughly half of the state’s economy.

The LCMs typically used in the industry today, Hemp Inc. CEO Bruce Perlowin explains, can basically be separated into low-end LCMs using natural materials (e.g., ground-up newspaper, walnut shells, tree bark or sawdust) and expensive, high-end, synthetic LCMs consisting of chemical resins and epoxies. DrillWall, however, is one of only two high-end, all-natural LCMs produced around the globe.

“You never know what you’re going to drill into, and if any of the cracks and fissures [around the drill hole] connect to an aquifer, and you’re using these chemical resins and epoxies, that aquifer is going to get polluted,” says Perlowin. “That stuff is poison. You don’t even want it on your skin — let alone in your drinking water. But kenaf won’t hurt you; hemp won’t hurt you.”

Perlowin says they came up with the idea for DrillWall at Hemp Inc. after coming across a study conducted by the U.S. Department of the Navy that revealed kenaf to be one of the most absorbent plant fibers — and hemp is right behind it. Their powers combined created a drilling fluid capable of outperforming its chemical competitors that even Captain Planet would approve of.

Perlowin says, “It’s such a green solution for the drilling industry it’s not even funny.”

On top of working faster, better and cleaner, at $1.75 to $3 per pound, DrillWall is also several times cheaper than most synthetic LCMs, which typically range from $9 to $12 per pound, Perlowin says.
Right now, Hemp Inc. only has long-term contracts to supply Quadco and another distributor in Texas, but many of the biggest names in the global oil and gas industry have already purchased samples of DrillWall for testing, including Saudi Aramco, the Kuwait Oil Company, Pemex (Mexico), Petrobras (Brazil), ConocoPhillips, and about a half-dozen other companies, which makes Perlowin excited and optimistic for his company’s future in the oil and gas industry. Given the feedback they’ve already gotten from oil companies, he says Industrial Hemp Manufacturing is expanding its DrillWall production capacity.

He says, “In 12 to 24 months, we’ll be manufacturing it 24/7, three shifts a day.”

“Once they see the product, once they test it, they’ll want it,” Perlowin says. “Now that they know that we’re out there, we’ll be all over the place.”

Getting DrillWall onto the market is just one way Perlowin says he and his team at Hemp Inc. are utilizing the power of Mother Nature to clean up the fossil fuel industry. The company produces another kenaf- and hemp-based product called Spill-Be-Gone, which was used to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded in 2010.

In addition to being a good steward of the environment, Perlowin says his other mission is caring for his fellow man.

Hemp Inc. partners with a Veterans Village Kins Community in Arizona to grow hemp and produce CBD products. According to Perlowin, a 500-acre community will be designed to provide holistic healing to veterans with physical disabilities, alcohol and drug addiction, PTSD and other psychological conditions while training them in various facets of the emerging hemp industry.

“Giving veterans and other Americans a place to learn new skills and take part in this multi-billion-dollar hemp CBD market is very exciting,” Perlowin says in a press release. “It’s a big part of our mission to give back.”

The Kins Community is also in the final stages of installing and activating the necessary infrastructure to take the entire community off-grid and run it on wind and solar power. Perlowin says Hemp Inc. is “aggressively scouting” locations to set up similar eco-villages in other states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

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