Oil Based Fluids

A primary use of oil-based fluids is to drill troublesome shales and to improve hole stability. They are also applicable in drilling highly deviated holes because of their high degree of lubricity and ability to prevent hydration of clays. They may also be selected for special applications such as high temperature/high pressure wells, minimizing formation damage, and native-state coring. Another reason for choosing oil-based fluids is that they are resistant to contaminants such as anhydrite, salt, and CO2 and H2S acid gases.

Cost is a major concern when selecting oil-based muds. Initially, the cost per barrel of an oil-based mud is very high compared to a conventional water-based mud system. However, because oil muds can be reconditioned and reused, the costs on a multi-well program may be comparable to using water-based fluids. Also, buy-back policies for used oil-based muds can make them an attractive alternative in situations where the use of water-based muds prohibit the successful drilling and/or completion of a well.

Today, with increasing environmental concerns, the use of oil-based muds is either prohibited or severely restricted in many areas. In some areas, drilling with oil-based fluids requires mud and cuttings to be contained and hauled to an approved disposal site. The costs of containment, hauling, and disposal can greatly increase the cost of using oil-based fluids.

Figure 2 Water-Based Fluids

Figure 2 Water-Based Fluids

Oil Based Drilling Fluids
Rev. 6/94 1-2

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