The use of synthetic-based muds (SBMs) can improve drilling performance and reduce the volume of pollution generated by offshore drilling operations. Investigations into the environmental impact of SBMs to date have concentrated on the seafloor. The biodegradation rate of an SBM is an important factor in determining the overall environmental performance. Laboratory biodegradation tests are an inexpensive alternative to conducting field studies. However, most of the tests have been designed for water-soluble compounds and reproducible results are difficult to obtain with regularity for hydrophobic materials like SBMs. For this study, a variety of base fluids were tested using the SOAEFD (Scottish Office of Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department) solid-phase test. This paper will evaluate SOAEFD solid-phase test results against other biodegradation protocols using a set of criteria designed to identify the best biodegradation test for SBMs.

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