Lately, drilling activities in Latin America have led to the discovery of unexplored oil fields. In Columbia, a new oil field has been discovered by GeoPark Limited following the drilling of exploration well Chachalaca 1 in Llanos 34 block. In late July, drilling operations in a subsea region off the coast of Guyana by Exxcon Mobil Corp. a huge reserve of oil and natural gas was unearthed. The market for drilling fluids in the region has been boosted by these recent findings. The Latin America drilling fluids market is estimated to reach a valuation of US$1,161.1 million by 2019, expanding at a CAGR of 9.63% during the period between 2014 and 2020.
However, the adverse environmental effects of drilling have been well known. Entire ecosystems can be wiped out as a result of oil contamination and oil spills. Offshore drilling also disrupts and pollutes marine life habitats. The drilling processes generate drill cuttings and waste fluids that pollute the surrounding environment. Growing knowledge about such factors will restrict the market growth to an extent.
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Non Aqueous Drilling Fluids Display High Drilling Performance and Environment-Friendly Operations
New techniques of drilling such as extended reach and directional drilling require fluids that offer high lubricity and stability at high temperatures. According to the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, the non-aqueous drilling fluids (NADFs) have gained preference over water-based fluids (WBFs) as they deliver high drilling performance and ensure environment-friendly operations. Earlier, diesel or crude oil was used as the base fluid in NADFs. To lessen the impact of discharged drill cuttings on environment, mineral oils have replaced diesel and crude. Low toxicity mineral oil based fluids, synthetic fluids, and highly refined mineral oils are widely used as base fluids.
These base fluids are less toxic owing to reduced concentrations of aromatic compounds. In new generation drilling fluids, the presence of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, the most toxic component of drilling fluids, has been reduced to less than 0.001% from 1-4%. The new generation drilling fluids containing synthetic base fluids such as olefins, esters, and paraffins are less toxic and more biodegradable than early generation diesel and mineral oil base fluids.
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Disposal of Non Aqueous Drilling Fluids: Regulatory Standards Assure Disposal in an Environmentally Accepted Manner
Though less toxic than the diesel and mineral oil base fluids, regulatory standards across many nations in Latin America do not allow discharge of whole non-aqueous fluid into the environment. The high-cost of non-aqueous fluids has led to reuse of the fluid. Depending upon the availability of onshore infrastructure and additional drilling wells, waste NADFs are recovered and recycled. Otherwise, they are disposed of in an environmentally accepted manner.