In its endeavor to provide a sustainable flow of hydrocarbon energy, the Petroleum industry has been recognized by the general public as an industry that has negatively impacted the environment as a result of using either harmful materials or risky practices. This leads the industry to continuously invest in R&D to develop environmentally friendly technologies and products. For any new technology or product, the current R&D trend is toward the development of sustainable practices and expertise. Drilling fluids are necessary for drilling oil and gas wells. Unfortunately drilling fluids have become increasingly more complex in order to satisfy the various operational demands and challenges. The materials used in the process to improve the quality and functions of the drilling fluids, contaminates the subsurface and underground systems, landfills, and surrounding environment.

Due to the increasing environmental awareness and pressure from environmental agencies throughout the world, it is very important to look back to the drilling fluid technology to reassess its progress while it tries to make forward steps to improve the petroleum industry's position as an environment friendly industry. This article outlines the state-of-the-art of drilling fluids. The major types of drilling fluids, their strengths, limitations, and remedies to limitations are discussed. It also presents the current trend and the future challenges of this technology. In addition, future research guidelines are presented focusing on the development of environmentally friendly drilling fluids with zero impact on the environment. The paper concludes that future trend leads toward the development of sustainable drilling fluids.

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