Successful application of a Holistic Fluid Management (HFM) program increased drilling fluid performance and reduced waste and costs in Southwestern Energy's (SWN) unconventional Fayetteville Shale gas project in Arkansas from January 2009 through December 2010. The HFM program significantly reduced environmental impact by lowering drilling waste volumes nearly 45 percent, while reducing drilling fluid and waste costs 36 percent. Reduction in Combined Costs (fluid systems, solids control equipment and waste disposal) totaled $69 million while drilling 705 wells with oil-based mud (OBM) over 4,200,000 ft during the 24-month study period.

The holistic management of drilling fluids, solids control, waste management and disposal of drilling waste has been the subject of considerable effort over the last decades. The process required to manage these projects has been well documented, along with successful case histories.

HFM projects have an improved chance of success when expectations, goals, and responsibilities are well-defined, communicated, and understood by all participants. The financial objectives of the providers of fluid-related services may not always align with those of the operator. This hurdle is further complicated by the limited availability of seasoned well site service personnel with the knowledge, authority, and experience to be proactive while implementing the required changes.

Critical components of an effective HFM program are an unbiased and dedicated project team, and the development and communication of the right goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).

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