Emulsifying systems

The industry has had to react in recent years to significant major challenges, improving both the chemical stability of the emulsifier system and the impact on the environment. This latter factor covers both occupational health and environmental hazards resulting from contact with the fluids themselves and the wastes generated, mainly drilled cuttings. Under pressure from state environmental agencies, the industry, particularly offshore, is being pushed to use fluid system components exhibiting maximum biodegradability which should, in
addition, be achieved with minimum oxygen demand. The system components should also be non-bioaccumulative, and the complete systems should exhibit low toxicity on representative species (an alga, a crustacean, and a sediment re-worker or a juvenile fish).

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Foam in the hole is an emulsion of air or gas in water, but at the flowline a proper foam breaks to a mixture of droplets of water in an air stream. With proper foam breaking at the end of the flowline, there is a quickly separating mixture of gas or air with a small amount of water and a small skim of foam (Figure 1.). During use of a shale shaker, the screen will generally appear ‘‘wet’’ with a skim of foam. This is the result of the chemistry of the system, and while it appears wet with foam, the water volume is very small.

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