The environmental and technical performance of drilling fluid additives is a key characteristic of such products. However, at times, the technical performance and environmental characteristics of materials used to make such additives seem to be at odds with each other. For example, materials that show good technical performance (stability) at high temperatures are frequently poor biodegraders, and those that are the most chemically active can show the highest toxicities.

In addition to the paradox of performance vs. environmental acceptability, international drilling fluids companies face diverse environmental regulations when operating in geographically distinct areas. Some of the most marked contrasts are observed when comparing regulations in the two most active offshore operating areas: the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Regulatory discrepancies like these should be taken into consideration at the product design stage, when there is a potential for global technical performance to be sacrificed for environmental compliance in just one of the areas. One may be forced to ask which regional regulation should shape an additive's design? Are there oilfield chemicals that have been rendered unusable by regulations in one area while showing excellent economic and technical performance in another, without any apparent degradation of the environment?

This paper will discuss and present real-life examples of drilling chemicals that have been designed and often redesigned to fit stringent environmental criteria, according to the areas in which they are used.

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