Baker Hughes has expanded its SmartCare line of products to include what the company describes as ‘more environmentally responsible’ drilling and completion fluids, production chemicals and additives used in cementing and stimulation procedures.
The SmartCare line was launched in 2010 with a selection of hydraulic fracturing chemicals that had been under development at 2009 acquisition BJ Services. Baker Hughes technology VP Harold Brannon said R&D is under way at several Houston-area locations to further expand the line. The company established its own evaluation system, based in part on the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of chemical classification, OSPAR guidelines and 22 worldwide regulatory lists, to qualify chemicals used in SmartCare products.
‘Somewhat counter to what we expected,’ Brannon noted, the more environmentfriendly products do not vary a great deal in cost from traditional materials. And he stressed that the SmartCare products work as well as current chemical systems. ‘You don’t have to give up performance to be environmentally acceptable,’ he observed.
Competitors and some operators have developed similar E&P ‘green’ practices, Brannon acknowledged: ‘We believe we’re ahead, but we’re not alone.’ Given that regulations tend to become tighter with time, Baker Hughes is positioning the SmartCare line to be an option that will meet or exceed environmental regulations in any oil & gas region, he said.
The line will be developed in phases as new products pass stringent chemical screenings – finding a range of environmentally sustainable corrosion inhibitors has been a particular challenge, Brannon said – and will expand well beyond the original focus on unconventional, onshore plays. ‘We pump far more chemicals in this industry than just hydraulic fracturing,’ he added.