Barite consumption in the United States is a direct result of the need for weighted muds in oil and gas wells drilled. Barite demand in the petroleum industry is projected to increase from 2.65 million tons in 1983 to 5.0 million tons in the year 2000. The United States reserves of barite, estimated at 30 million tons, are not adequate to fill the projected cumulative demand of about 60 million tons by the year 2000.

This paper evaluates the benefits and problems associated with itabirite (micaceous hematite) as a weighting material in water-base muds. A laboratory investigation compared fresh water samples of barite and itabirite, and the effect of addition Kelzan XCD polymer. Three different ranges of particle size of itabirite were selected for the tests. Particle sizes between 74 and 125 microns, between 44 and 74 microns, and smaller than 44 microns were used. Thirty-minute abrasion tests were conducted with a modified Hamilton Beach Blender at 9800,11200,12570, and 14350 rpm.

Rheological properties, filtration properties, and abrasiveness were studied and analyzed. Itabirite exhibited better rheological characteristics than did barite. Itabirite could increase penetration rate since a lower solids content can be used to obtain proper weight. Itabirite did not exhibit good filtration properties and was more abrasive; however, the feasibility of using itabirite as a weighting material was enhanced with a finer particle size distribution and by use of a determined amount of Kelzan XCD polymer to control filtration and to act as a coating agent to lower the abrasiveness.

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