Industry Article: Drilling Fluid Selection for Environmentally Sensitive Areas

Publication: Oil Review Africa
Volume: November
Issue: 2013
Publication Date: 11/01/2013

Drilling in environmentally sensitive areas of East Africa requires operators to consider technical and environmental criteria when treating and disposing of cuttings and excess drilling fluids. In less technically demanding exploration wells, Tullow Oil sought drilling fluids with green credentials, but recognized that a system with improved technical performance was necessary to drill more demanding, high angle and extended reach wells. In a study of shale characterization and inhibition testing, seven drilling fluids—including six water-base muds (WBM) and one synthetic-base mud (SBM)—were evaluated to determine a simple ranking for technical and environmental performance as well as treatment and disposal options for each fluid. The SBM was the strongest technically, followed by an amine-modified high-performance WBM system. Both systems can be combined with techno-economically feasible treatment and disposal options that minimize environmental impact. Tullow requested a fluid selection study with cores from fields of interest.

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