Deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is a challenging opportunity for drilling fluid performance. Synthetic-based muds (SBMs) applied in the Gulf of Mexico have overcome performance shortfalls of currently available water-based and oil-based muds. This paper will compare environmental, health, and drilling performance factors of polyalphaolefins (PAO) and internal olefins (10) SBMs with emphasis on rheological profiles, acute toxicity, benthic toxicity, bioaccumulation, and biodegradation rates. Field case histories of PAO and 10 SBMs used in deepwater projects are compared to water-based muds (WBM) and oil-based muds (OBM).

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