Method for efficiently recycling water based drilling fluids has been developed. This recycling is conducted in a way beneficial both for the drilling fluid supplier and the operator. Contaminated fluid (slop) is brought back onshore for treatment and reusable fluids from the slop treatment are brought back into the drilling fluids.
A complete replacement of oil-based mud with other mud types provides the largest reduction in discharges of oil-contaminated cuttings to the sea compared to any other solutions.
The fates of drill cuttings from offshore wells, and their effect on the marine environment, have been studied by means of side-scan sonar, scuba and underwater photography. Adverse effects are minimal and short-lived, and in some instances the accumulation of cuttings may be beneficial. Modification of normal mud and cuttings discharge procedures would be needed only in very unusual circumstances.
Oil-based drilling fluids have long been recognized as a sound technical answer to problems encountered in deep-hot holes and, more recently, to stabilize boreholes with thick intervals of reactive clay formations. However, oil-based mud product development was slowing down until the introduction of low toxicity base oils in the late seventies created a need for new investigations. This innovation sparked a resurgence of oil mud research and development which has resulted in oil-based mud (OBM) systems being used routinely in many active drilling areas worldwide.