With increasing environmental regulations on the use of oil-based (or synthetic-based) invert emulsion drilling fluids, options for designing more inhibitive water-based drilling fluids with greater versatility are being explored. The challenge set for water-based drilling fluid technology is to meet the same performance expectations of oil-based drilling fluids, particularly for improving shale stabilization.

This paper discusses the development and application of water-based polymeric mud systems that incorporate new chemical classes of surfactants. These new zwitterionic surfactants demonstrate unique synergistic benefits with polymers for improving shale stabilization.

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