We are fortunate to live in a world where awareness of the detrimental effects of pollution is on the increase. Such awareness will help ensure protection of the biosphere and safeguard future generations. The oil and petrochemical industries, which have been responsible, to a large extent, for the development of the modern world and vast improvements in living standards in many places, are often targeted mercilessly by environmental activists. This is done without due regard to the criticality of oil both as a fuel and as the fundamental raw material for countless pharmaceuticals, dyes, plastics and consumer products.
In general, despite press reports to the contrary, our industry has a fairly good pollution record, when compared to other major businesses. However, there is no room for complacency and it is important that we continue to be proactive in the implementation of strict environmental controls. Oil itself is usually perceived to be the biggest acute environmental threat, but, in addition, there are many well construction and workover operations that involve the use of chemical additives. Some of these materials are toxic and some may not biodegrade at acceptable rates. With an increasing awareness of the potential environmental impact of chemical additives, particularly in the marine environment, there is a continuing need to develop more efficient, less toxic alternatives.
Thanks to intense efforts, many potentially harmful chemicals have already been removed from active service and replaced with new, field-proven and eco-friendly systems that have been tested in accordance with OSPARCOM guidelines, or their equivalents. Use of such materials offers benefits in terms of health and safety and, ultimately, potential cost reductions when disposal and waste handling charges are factored in.
This paper reviews the development and field application of several novel materials for well completion and stimulation and suggests ways to improve or accelerate the implementation of environmental strategies.