Drilling advances ///

Recently, new drilling mud formulations have been popping like mushrooms in a cow pasture. These systems have been developed to improve hole cleaning, provide lubrication, reduce contamination, increase rheology control and reduce formation invasion-all problems of many former systems, especially water-based muds. In the past, prior to synthetic oil-based systems, we were obliged to use water-based muds with monovalent or divalent salts such as potassium chloride to “pickle” shales. This was only partially successful in preventing sloughing, produced by shale hydration, which caused many junked hole segments. Crude and diesel oil-based muds followed, but discharging them into the environment was not only damaging, it was illegal in most places. Why create an intentional oil spill by discharging whole mud or oil-soaked cuttings? Vegetable oils in drilling fluids came next followed by synthetic oils; both were expensive. Discharging a plant-based oil into the environment didn’t seem quite as bad as discharging a refined product.

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