Despite their already widespread and successful use in several industrial branches, zirconium compounds are underexploited in the drilling industry and have a great potential for more applications1 .

An innovative product based on zirconium citrate can control high temperature gelation of bentonite at temperature exceeding 400°F or increase the temperature stability of all kinds of lignites and lignosulfonates in dispersed muds. In polymer muds the use of this compound can strongly reduce the need for mud dilution by controlling unwanted increases in mud viscosity and is an effective means for stabilizing rheology during stopped circulation. This biodegradable and non toxic product looks promising as a replacement for potassium dichromate and Cr-lignosulfonates in high temperature applications. Laboratory studies and field experiences are described in this paper, together with ecotoxicity data.

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