press release

Unocal introduces environmentally friendly drilling fluid in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 29, 1997 -- Unocal today said it had started using Saraline, a new, non-toxic synthetic drilling fluid that has recently been accepted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), it is well drilling program in Thailand. The fluid has achieved proven performance in the Gulf of Thailand and Indonesia.

The synthetic fluid, whose patent has been filed in Thailand and other countries worldwide, replaces an oil-based drilling fluid and is the most cost-effective to date. Drilling fluids typically consist of chemicals mixed with clay-like materials and water, forming an essential part of oil and gas well drilling.

"Saraline is an exciting new technological development from Unocal. It is the latest in a series of Unocal innovations for gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand. It is also a further proof of Unocal's leadership in the oil and gas industry in both technology and environmental protection," said Brian Marcotte, Unocal Thailand president.

Saraline meets the permit guidelines for discharge of drill cuttings into the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to its non-toxic properties, drilled cuttings (small bits of underground formations around the wellbore that are brought back to the surface) can be discharged directly into the ocean. In Indonesia, Saraline has been successfully applied in the drilling of all new Unocal wells.

"Coupled with the brand-new water treatment technology being developed by Unocal, this innovation further reduces the impact on the waters and sediments of the Gulf, especially as Unocal moves into the innovative drilling of slimholes -- which already lowers the volume of cuttings by 40 to 50 percent," said Marcotte. Slimholes have a smaller cross-section of the wellbore than the traditional wellbore size.

In late 1996, Unocal announced the launch of tripod wellhead platforms for use at offshore gas wells. The tripods are the first to be designed and installed in Thailand. The first are to be installed in February 1997. Unocal said these platforms are replacing the conventional four-pile ones. "The tripods are as efficient as the traditional platforms we currently use, and yet are more cost-effective, and Saraline falls into the same vein," Marcotte added.

Unocal is the leading gas and condensate producer of the Kingdom. Its gas output from nine fields in the Gulf recently surpassed the 1,000 million cubic feet a day (mmcfd) mark. The gas fuels power generation plants and industries. Natural gas is a key fuel for Thailand. Gas and condensate are key feedstocks for the Thai petrochemical industry.

Updated: January 1997