Advanced-Composite Mats offer a safer alternative to wood mats in oil and gas fields.


Mat systems are a necessity for many aspects of the oil and gas industry. They protect the environment from spills as well as support heavy machinery in regions with challenging conditions.

Newpark Mats & Integrated Services (NMIS), developed its DURA-BASE Advanced-Composite Mat System nearly 15 years ago to address these issues, and the company continues to improve on its design year after year.

A unit of Newpark Resources, NMIS focuses on ground protection and matting systems. NMIS has been in the mats business for more than 50 years, originally starting out as a manufacturer of wood mats and later developing its flagship product, the DURA-BASE Advanced-Composite Mat.

Related: Newpark Introduces Liner-Less Spill Containment System

“We’re headquartered in southern Louisiana, where the Gulf Coast environment poses unique challenges,” says Megan Rabalais, marketing manager for Newpark. “Years ago, when working with wood mats, we faced numerous issues. For example, they would quickly deteriorate in wet conditions, and we would turn inventory over rapidly.”

Rabalais says that engineers within the company put their heads together to come up with a solution that would be both longer lasting and more
cost-effective.

“We strongly believed that there had to be a better way, a more efficient and safer product,” Rabalais adds. “The solution was the DURA-BASE Advanced-Composite Mat System.”

DURA-BASE vs. WOOD

DURA-BASE mats are 8 by 14 feet, 4 inches thick and weigh 1,000 pounds, making them lighter than traditional three-ply wood mats. Rabalais also notes that the composite material of DURA-BASE offers many advantages over traditional wood mats.

“The main advantage that DURA-BASE has over wood mats is their longevity,” Rabalais says. “Some mats that we manufactured over 10 years ago still meet our rigorous durability requirements and remain in our rental fleet today.”

The mats also offer a number of logistical benefits. Compared to wood mats, which are never exactly the same size and weight, DURA-BASE mats are precision engineered, ensuring customers get the same high quality with each individual mat.

“The mats are made out of a proprietary advanced-composite formulation that is much lighter than wood alternatives,” Rabalais says. “This delivers significant time and cost savings by reducing the required trucking. While a truck can generally carry anywhere between 12 and 20 wood mats, 46 DURA-BASE mats can be transported in a single truckload.”

The mats are designed with an extended lip that is offset by a foot in each direction and overlap when they are laid down. Additionally, the system has a patented twist-locking pin feature that can be engaged with only a single 90-degree turn. This creates a continuous interlocking work surface that eliminates shifting and gapping, thus enhancing worker safety. The raised 1/8-inch tread pattern is designed to provide added traction to those walking or driving on the mats, further enhancing safety.

DURA-BASE mats are easy to use and quick to assemble, and machinery can move up to six mats at a time, quickening the installation pace. In some instances, an entire site’s worth of matting can be set in a single day, saving precious time for operators.

IN THE FIELD

DURA-BASE mats are versatile and are regularly used in the oil and gas industry on both the drilling side and the completion side, providing a safe, stable work platform for oil and gas operations.

“You never know what environmental issues you may run into or how the terrain may change while you’re out there,” Rabalais says. “You may have a nice, clean site to start, but when weather becomes a factor, your site can quickly become inaccessible or unworkable.

“Parts of the Gulf Coast consist of really difficult terrain. For some jobs, it may be necessary to navigate miles of marsh or swampland in order to access drilling areas,” she adds. “In these areas, the mats can be deployed to lay a temporary roadway and build a solid work surface for the drilling to actually take place.”

In other regions where potentially hazardous spills might pose a risk to nearby streams and other sensitive areas, the matting system is used to protect spill containment liner systems, preventing them from puncture. This reduces the risk of any hazardous materials leaving the site.

DURA-BASE mats are used worldwide. In North America specifically, they have a large presence in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, along the Gulf Coast and also in the oilsands of western Canada.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

In addition to cost- and time-saving benefits, the DURA-BASE Advanced-Composite Mat System also offers plenty of compelling environmental benefits. For example, the mats do not absorb foreign materials. The mats are nonporous and clean easily, which dramatically limits the transfer of invasive spores that can contaminate local vegetation. In addition, the mats will not soak up potentially hazardous chemicals that may leak onto a rig pad, limiting risk of cross-contamination between work sites. 

Easy cleanup of the mats is enhanced by a unique cleaning system offered by NMIS — the T-REX Mat Cleaning System. This cleaning system improves water management by recycling water. The DURA-BASE mats are simply loaded directly into the T-REX and are quickly moved through the machine for a full cleaning — much like a car wash.

“The mats go through and all the water is contained. Cleaning is completed quickly and they come out on the other end ready to be redeployed,” Rabalais says. “The system cuts down on personnel time working with a power washer, saving water overall. Water runoff, which can then lead to other contamination issues, is also greatly reduced.”

The mats are 100 percent recyclable, and the company offers an active recycling program. This makes the mats significantly more eco-friendly when compared with wood mats, which require the consumption of trees for production.

COST SAVINGS

DURA-BASE mats also offer additional cost-saving benefits. “Before laying wood mats down, many operators must bring in aggregate — sand or rocks — to build up a stable base for the site. The expenses associated with the aggregate and related trucking, manpower and remediation costs add up,” Rabalais says. “DURA-BASE mats provide such a stable surface that they can cut down on aggregate by as much as two-thirds.”

Because Newpark delivers, installs, cleans and removes the mats from a given site, companies don’t have to manage their own mat inventories.

The company is also continuing to improve the DURA-BASE system, working with a focus on innovation.

“We’re undergoing a major construction project here at our manufacturing plant in south Louisiana and are adding to our production and R&D capabilities,” Rabalais says. “The market demand has been so robust that we’re adding additional capacity and capabilities. We’re very excited about the future.”


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