Drilling fluids are mixtures of natural and synthetic chemical compounds in water or an oil base that aid the drilling of boreholes in Oil & Gas production or in simpler operations such as water drilling. Their main roles are to cool and lubricate the drill bit, clean the hole bottom, carry the drill cuttings to the surface, control geologic formation pressures, control corrosion by adjusting pH and prevent liquids or gases present in the surrounding geologic formation from entering the well bore. Caustic calcined MgO powders can be an important additive in drilling fluids that can play a wide range of roles, depending on the specific application. To name a few, MgO is used as an alkalinity agent and pH buffer, bridging agent, shale inhibitor and viscosity regulator in clay/bentonite slurries. Essential MgO requirements are suitable MgO content, particle size and reactivity and in some cases solubility in strong mineral acids (see also Drilling Cements). More demanding applications are hydraulic fracturing fluids where hard- or dead-burned MgO of higher purity, carefully controlled particle size and reactivity is used as a gel breaker or delayed crosslinking agent.
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