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Drilling in West Arica : Alternative to Bentonite Clays ?

We, are a borehole drilling company operating in West Africa, around Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. In Niger and Mali we have come across very deep boreholes to be dug in unconsolidated formations using rotary drilling to depths upto 600mts.

We do not have sufficient experience in taking up tasks of this magnitude, we have drilled in hard formations to depths of 180mts, look forward for suggestions into type of mudpump, mudpump chemicals and the drilling rig needed for the task.  We are aware of Bentonite as drilling clays but all projects in West Africa prohibit use of bentonite specifically, please enlighten on alternate drilling muds that can be used, some times we had used guar gum but again some projects do not want as it had potential for bacterial growth.





Dear Venketesh,

Find below some the products useful to you. From the list you may choose any one from the Ligno sulfonates.


Lignosulfonates for Fresh water applications.

• Sodium Lignosulfonate
• Potassium Lignosulfonate
• Ferro Lignosulfonate
• Chrome Lignosulfonate
• Ferro Chrome Lignosulfonate
• Chrome Fee Lignosulfonate

In case the mix become more thicker then kindly use the any combination of the thinner. The combination that suits to your need comes from your experience. You can mix the powder and feel its viscosity by hand and stop adding more quantity. It is similar to Bentonite mud. Your experienced driller will be able to mix a correct combination.

The thinners are

• Chrome Lignite
• Causticized Lignite
• Causticized Potassium Lignite
• Potassium Lignite
• Causticized Potassium Lignite
• Chrome Lignosulfonate
• Ferro Chrome Lignosulfonate
• Chrome free Lingosulfonate
• Potassium Lignosulfonate
• Sodium Lignosulfonate
• Organophilic Lignite
Amine Treated Lignite for Oil/Synthetic based Mud systems

You may contact for further details.

One of my old colleaque / classmate, now in ARAMCO, informed me that you can also opt for adding these powders with clay obtained from any water body.

This is for your kind information.


A. Rajamohamed Ambalam
Coastal Energy Private Limited
Chennai - 600006

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