The Oil & Gas industry uses and generates enormous quantities of this commodity. On average, for every barrel of oil produced there are eight barrels of associated wastewater. Increasing the efficiency of water usage and improving its management is both a high priority among E&P companies and a subject of intense scrutiny for the communities in which they operate.
Drilling fluid disposal are cost prohibitive, environmentally risky and/or threaten the mechanical integrity of the well. Chemical solidification of the pit contents and disposal into a permitted commercial injection well are expensive, particularly where large quantities of high-chloride (>5,000 ppm) mud are being injected into a commercial disposal. For a typical 14,000 ft well in Western Oklahoma, it would not be unusual to spend $60,000 for either of these methods of disposal.
Water as a drilling fluid does not qualify as a mud. If there are no hole (formation) problems that prevent its being the most economical drilling fluid; if neither the geologist, palentologist, nor production supervisor have valid objections; and if it is available, water is seldom if ever surpassed. When the formation requires, or a supervisor demands , filtrate control and / or viscosity and /or gels in the drilling fluid, a “mud” is built. Or if the fluid density required is too high for salt water alone , mud properties are required to suspend barites.