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Environmental Impact of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry by Stanislav Patin - a unique summary of world-wide studies on the environmental issues associated with offshore oil and gas exploration and development

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Muddied Waters

A Survey of Offshore Oilfield Drilling Wastes and Disposal Techniques to Reduce the Ecological Impact of Sea Dumping

by Jonathan Wills, M.A., Ph.D., M.Inst.Pet., for Ekologicheskaya Vahkta Sakhalina (Sakhalin Environment Watch); 25th May 2000

Environmental Effects of Drilling Waste Discharges (continued)

Go to Previous Page: "Non-Water Quality Environmental Impacts";
The Effects of Discharges of Drilling Fluid Additives

The Effects of Discharges of Drilling Fluid Additives (continued)

In the US the Environment Protection Agency, like OSPAR, publishes generic and chemical names, usually without trade name equivalents. The following table shows the latest (April 2000) generic list of additives in use with SBM in US waters. Some are also used with WBM.

Table 8: Synthetic Based Fluid (SBF) Typical Composition

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C. office. pers. comm.April 2000

FunctionGeneric Name Concentration
Continuous phase (base fluid) LAO
55-70 vol.%
Emulsified phase CaCl2 or NaCl brine 20-35 vol.%
Emulsifier Amine or fatty acid 8-20 lb/bbl (of whole mud)
Oil wetting agent Amine or fatty acid 8-10 lb/bbl
Weight material Barite
Calcium carbonate
50-350 lb/bbl (depends on final mud density needed)
Filtration control Amine Clay
Amine Lignite
2-15 lb/bbl
ViscosifierAmine Clay
Dimer/trimer fatty acid
0.5-7 lb/bbl
Alkalinity control Lime 1-6 lb/bbl
Activity (shale) control Calcium chloride (preferred) or sodium chloride 20-35 wt.% in the water phase only

An old but still useful source of public domain information on drilling mud additives is a document produced a quarter of a century ago by the Industrial Marketing Research Association (Industrial Marketing Research Association (IMRA). 1975. Chemicals in Oil Exploration and Recovery. London. See Appendix 1). It lists the main ingredients of drilling mud in 1975 as follows:

Table 9: IMRA Table of Drilling Fluid Components

Name of chemicalFunction "Examples of quantities used" per annum per rig
Barytes Weighting material 4,500 tons
Bentonite Weighting material 400 tons
Attapulgite Weighting material 150 tons
Sodium tetraphosphate Dispersant/thinner 3 tons
Sodium pyrophosphate Dispersant/thinner 2 tons
Causticised metal lignite Dispersant/thinner 10 tons
Ferrochrome lignosulphate Dispersant/thinner 100 tons
Pre-gelatinised starch Filtrate reducer 2 tons
Polysaccharide Filtrate reducer 100 tons
Carboxy-methyl cellulose ("CMC") Filtrate reducer 120 tons
Soluble polyacrylate Filtrate reducer 25 tons
"Temperature resistant product" Filtrate reducer 2 tons
Polymeric fluid loss reagent Filtrate reducer 65 tons
Aluminium stearate Defoamer 2 tons
Alcohol defoamer Defoamer 30 drums
Mica Lost circulation material 10 tons
Walnut shell Lost circulation material 10 tons
Asbestos Lost circulation material 10 tons
"Mixture" Lost circulation material 10 tons
Potassium chloride Inhibition/shale shakers 1,000 tons
Encapsulating polymer Inhibition/shale shakers 45 tons
Biopolymer Viscosifier 2 - 50 tons
Potassium hydroxide pH control 1 - 10 tons
Caustic soda pH control 125 - 150 tons
Salt Sodium source 1 ton
Gypsum Calcium source <220 tons
Calcium chloride Calcium source 4 tons
Lime Calcium source 20 - 150 tons
Sodium carbonate Hardness/cement remover 26 tons
Sodium bicarbonate Hardness/cement remover 10 - 12 tons
Chlorinated phenols Bactericides 1 ton
Unidentified Emulsifier 2 drums
Unidentified Surfactant 2 - 10 drums
Unidentified Lubricant 10 drums

Go to Previous Page: "Non-Water Quality Environmental Impacts"; Additives

Go to Next Page: Drill Cuttings

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[Author] [Conclusions] [Drilling Waste] [International Law] [Environmental Effects] [Minimizing Discharges] [Resources] [References]

Contact us if you have any questions or want to contribute an article:

"Muddied Waters":



List of Abbreviations

Summary of Conclusions

Drilling Waste Streams from Offshore Oil and Gas Installations

The Law on Offshore Wastes Discharges in Different Jurisdictions:

The OSPAR Convention

United Kingdom



United States

Inviting Regulation

Environmental Effects of Drilling Waste Discharges

The SBM Controversy

"Non-Water Quality Environmental Impacts"


Drill Cuttings

Produced Water

Minimising Waste Discharges and Their Effects

Reinjection Offshore

Cleaning Produced Waters

List of Main Sources

Selected References



Articles on Offshore
Oil&Gas; and Environment

Impact of Offshore Oil&Gas; Industry


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