Laboratory and field experience indicates that simple universal drilling and completion fluids, suitable for all applications, can be built around brines based on the alkali-metal salts of formic acid. The formate brines have been subjected to a thorough hazard identification and assessment procedure prior to introduction into the field. This procedure was based on accepted OECD tests, compatible with EC requirements for asssessing the mammalian toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of new substances.

It has been concluded that the alkali-metal salts of formic acid pose little hazard to either users or the environment. As an additional safeguard for the environment a novel recycling process has been developed specifically for use with the formate brines, aimed at minimising product discharge and retaining a valuable non-renewable resource.

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