An activated hydroxyethyl cellulose has been developed which will viscosify brines of any density up to 19.2 lb/gal containing calcuim chloride, calcium bromide and/or zinc bromide. The use of activated hydroxyethyl cellulose allows preparation of viscosified brines at ambient temperature and without undissolved polymer solids. The time required to prepare a viscosified brine is greatly reduced. In addition, the rheology of brines viscosified with activated HEC can be accurately predicted allowing brines with equivalent solution rheology properties to be prepared batch after batch.

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