11 April 1997

Environmental benefit

RAPESEED oil is another step closer to improving the environmental image of the North Sea oil industry, with a single well test approved by MAFF.

The move is the latest development in the Voodoo (vegetable oils for offshore drilling operations) project at Herriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

Rapeseed oil is as efficient as mineral oil for use as a base fluid in the "muds" which are used to flush away debris during drilling. Although it is slightly more expensive, it is claimed to bring big environmental benefits.

"Up to 35 or 40% of drilling fluid oil is unreclaimable and is discharged into the sea," says Alastair Wilkinson from the Heriot Watt project team. "Vegetable oil gives reduced toxicity, enhances recovery of the sea bed when drilling is over, and eliminates tainting in fish species."n