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Gulf of Mexico (GOM) operators are taking the necessary steps to ensure that cuttings produced while drilling with synthetic-based fluids (SBF) comply with proposed EPA regulations (see sidebar). Cuttings dryers are being installed on rigs to reduce the oil-on-cuttings (OOC) percentage to an average of at least 6.9%. Commonly used SBFs are being tested to determine if they can meet the requirements and still retain acceptable performance properties.
Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas Corp. was the first operator in the GOM to field test a synthetic-based fluid designed specifically to comply with the new EPA standards, giving Kerr-McGee a head start in environmental protection in deepwater locations, Fig. 1. Cuttings produced while drilling with the new, proprietary clay-free Accolade system remained well within the proposed OOC limits, but the fluid can offer an equally important benefit that all deepwater operators are seeking: viscosity reduction in cold temperatures.
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