The worldwide acceleration in deepwater exploration and the accompanying technical and environmental complications have been well documented in the literature. From a drilling fluids perspective, the demands intrinsic to deepwater drilling and completions are especially acute as operators must reconcile performance and economic objectives with unique technical and environmental obstacles. Beyond standard fluid criteria, mud systems designed for deepwater projects must also address such unique problems as shallow gas hazards/water flows; gas hydrate formations; loss circulation/lower fracture gradients and hole cleaning in the riser section.
This paper reviews the latest developments in synthetic and water-based mud systems geared specifically for deepwater drilling and completions. The inherent advantages and disadvantages of the various systems will be reviewed. Moreover, to illustrate the technical and economic impact of latest generation fluid systems in deepwater projects, the author will present case studies from deepwater theaters worldwide.