Offshore operators and service companies are increasing concerned about the environmental aspects of their offshore operations. Many offshore completions utilize "frac packing" as a preferred method to complete the soft formations found in the Gulf of Mexico. The frac pack operation manufactures and pumps large volumes of stimulation fluids from the fracturing stimulation vessel into the well. Most operations require at least two work string volumes of fracturing fluid to be reversed out and disposed of. This paper presents the development of a hydraulic fracturing fluid that not only met the oil and grease criteria established for well treatment fluids, completion and workover fluids; but how it was developed to meet the tighter standard established for the discharge of water based drilling fluids to comply not only with the letter of the regulations but with the spirit of the regulations.

The service company specifications for the development of the low environmental impact fracturing fluid required not only it meet the oil and grease standard but also the toxicity standard for water based drilling mud and a biodegradability standard. The fluid development required it to meet the more stringent environmental standard, maintain its performance as a fracturing fluid and remain price competitive. The research process, the sourcing of new suppliers and the development of unique chemistry, with new patents, to accomplish the fluid development objectives are presented.

The environmental performance of the fluid saves disposal costs, minimizes well site logistics and reduces risks associated of an accidental spill to both the operator and Service Company. A case history of the use of the fluid in an environmentally sensitive area is discussed and how the low environmental impact fracturing fluid system enabled the operator to discharge the fluid saving on disposal costs.

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