HighpH Muds

In the 1930s the most popular thinning agent for muds was quebracho extract. This vegetable tannin, derived from a South American hardwood tree, has a deep red color when dissolved with caustic soda. High concentrations of caustic-quebracho produced high-pH mud which had some desirable features in shale drilling; in particular, low gel strength and great tolerance for shale solids. 5 5 From the high-pH red mud came the red lime mud, or lime mud, that was consistently the most popular mud in the Gulf Coast region from 1943 to 1957. In modified compositions, it is still in use.

The origin of lime mud is obscure. As a special system, lime mud seems to have evolved from observing the improved performance of "red muds" after cement or anhydrite had been drilled. Although Rogers-1' attribute* the probable beginning of lime mud to anhydrite drilling in East Texas in 1943. Cannon57 cites the purposeful addition of cement to a red mud in coastal Louisiana in 1938. Whatever the introduction may have been, modifications from well to well as the lime mud found wide application throughout the Gulf Coast resulted in the development of methods for the control of properties by adjusting concentrations of lime, caustic soda, thinner, and filtration-control agents.58,59,60,61,62,63 In time, calcium lignosulfonate'"' and lignite (brown coal, leonardite) largely replaced quebracho as thinners, and sodium carboxymethylcellulose (commonly called "CMC")6* was preferred over starch as a filtration-control agent.

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