Product overview

What are NEOFLO products?

NEOFLO drilling fluids utilise alpha and internal olefins in the C11 to C18 range. The NEOFLO 1 series is certified to US Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Alpha and internal olefins are produced via a proprietary process called the Shell Higher Olefins Process (SHOP). The process uses ethylene to produce highly linear, long-chain olefins. Within SHOP, some of the alpha olefins of varying chain lengths are rearranged and isomerised to produce internal olefins in the C11 to C18 range. Some of the internal olefins are fed to the Shell Hydroformylation (SHF) process to produce detergent alcohols. The C15 to C18 range material is used for both detergent and oilfield fluids end uses.

All NEOFLO products are synthetic, according to government regulatory agencies and industry organisation classifications.

How are NEOFLO products used?

NEOFLO fluids act as base stocks in the synthetic drilling fluids used in exploration and production drilling operations. They are designed for a wide range of applications, including marine discharge, land, and zero-discharge operations.

They help reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges without sacrificing performance. As drilling environments vary, three product series are offered -Premium, Enhanced and Standard. Each has different environmental performance profiles, and can be selected in line with specific operating conditions, regulatory environments and performance requirements.

Our key strengths in drilling fluids

  • Among the largest global producers of linear alpha olefins.
  • Certified US Environmental Protection Agency compliant drilling fluids (NEOFLO 1 series).
  • Proactive and responsible players in global health, safety and environment arenas, including US EPA drilling fluids workgroups.
  • Experienced sales team, able to work with customers to develop optimal supply solutions.
  • Proven supply capability with world class operations and a global footprint.
  • Technical support from technology centres in Houston and Amsterdam.

 

Technical literature

NEOFLO typical and environmental properties data

 

“Product descriptions are for information purposes only. Products sold by Shell Chemicals companies shall comply with specifications included in the relevant sales contract. Shell Chemicals make no other warranty or representation of any kind concerning the products sold, whether of their merchantability and fitness for any particular purpose or otherwise, and none shall be implied.”

 

Product data

The NEOFLO product grade names are based on their environmental performance category and their carbon number distribution.

Shell chemicals companies offer three series of NEOFLO products:

  • Premium = 1
  • Enhanced = 2
  • Standard = 3

Products are numbered firstly by category (1, 2, 3) with the following two numbers representing the product's carbon number range. For example, NEOFLO 1-58 is a Premium grade base fluid with a carbon number range of 15 to 18.

BIO-BASE™ is a registered trademark of Shrieve Chemical Products Company. Shrieve Chemical Products, Inc, located in the Woodlands, Texas, is a privately owned, independent supplier of performance fluids and specialty chemicals including drilling fluids, additives and production chemicals. Many of the Standard Series NEOFLO internal olefins are used in the manufacture of BIO-BASE products, which are paraffin based.

Product/Grade Description Download
NEOFLO 1-58 NEOFLO 1-58 is part of our Premium series of internal olefins that is Gulf of Mexico compliant. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. Ideal for both deepwater and shelf applications, NEOFLO 1-58 helps reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges. NEOFLO 1-58 biodegrades in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, is non-toxic in the water column and has low sediment toxicity. The product has a low viscosity and pour point making it a great choice for challenging deepwater applications. NEOFLO 1-58 has a carbon chain length between C15 and C18. Datasheet
NEOFLO 1-6 NEOFLO 1-6 is part of our Premium series of alpha olefin drilling fluids that is Gulf of Mexico compliant. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. Designed for deep and shallow water / shelf applications, NEOFLO 1-6 helps reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges. NEOFLO 1-6 biodegrades under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, is non-toxic in the water column and has low sediment toxicity. NEOFLO 1-6 has a carbon chain length at C16. Datasheet
NEOFLO 1-68 NEOFLO 1-68 is part of our Premium series of alpha olefin drilling fluids that is Gulf of Mexico compliant. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. Ideal for shallow water / shelf applications, NEOFLO 1-68 helps reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges. NEOFLO 1-68 biodegrades in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, is non-toxic in the water column, has low sediment toxicity and low viscosity. NEOFLO 1-68 is a linear alpha olefin with a carbon chain length between C16 and C18. Datasheet
NEOFLO 1-68i NEOFLO 1-68i is part of our Premium series of drilling fluids that is Gulf of Mexico compliant. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. Designed for both deep and shallow water / shelf applications, it biodegrades in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, is non-toxic in the water column and has low sediment toxicity. The product has a low viscosity and pour point making it a good choice for challenging deepwater applications. NEOFLO 1-68i is an internal olefin with a carbon chain length between C16 and C18. Datasheet
NEOFLO 2-4 NEOFLO 2-4 is part of our Enhanced alpha olefin series of drilling fluids appropriate for deep and shallow water / shelf applications. NEOFLO 2-4 helps reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges. It biodegrades under aerobic and anaerobic conditions and is non-toxic in the water column. It has a low viscosity and pour point and performs as well or better than mineral oil based fluids. NEOFLO 2-4 is a linear alpha olefin with a carbon at C14. Datasheet
NEOFLO 2-46 NEOFLO 2-46 is part of our Enhanced alpha olefin series of drilling fluids appropriate for deep and shallow water / shelf applications. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. NEOFLO 2-46 helps reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges. NEOFLO 2-46 biodegrades in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, is non-toxic in the water column, has a low viscosity and pour point and is expected to perform as well or better than mineral oil based fluids. NEOFLO 2-46 is a linear alpha olefin with a carbon chain length between C14 and C16. Datasheet
NEOFLO 2-48 NEOFLO 2-48 is part of our Enhanced alpha olefin series of drilling fluids appropriate for both deep and shallow water / shelf applications. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. NEOFLO 2-48 helps reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges. It biodegrades in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, is non-toxic in the water column, has a low viscosity and pour point and is expected to perform as well or better than mineral oil based fluids. NEOFLO 2-48 is a linear alpha olefin with a carbon chain length between C14 and C18. Datasheet
NEOFLO 3-14

BIO-BASE 300 with NEOFLO 3-14 Ingredient

BIO-BASE 300 is part of a Standard paraffin series of drilling fluids marketed by Shrieve Chemical Products Company.

Shell chemicals companies manufacture the NEOFLO 3-14 ingredient that is a component to the overall fluid.

BIO-BASE 300 is well-suited for land-based applications or for offshore operations if it is verified that it meets all regulatory requirements for marine discharge in the region of use.

It is a linear synthetic paraffin absent of PAH and BTEX and is designed to replace diesel or low-toxicity mineral oils in drilling fluids. It is excellent for applications requiring zero BTEX fluids.
Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition.

Datasheet
NEOFLO 3-56 BIO-BASE 360 with NEOFLO 3-56 Ingredients
BIO-BASE 360 is part of a Standard paraffin series of drilling fluids marketed by Shrieve Chemical Products Company. Shell chemicals companies manufacture the NEOFLO 3-56 ingredients that are components to the overall fluid. BIO-BASE 360 is a mixture of synthetic linear and regular branched paraffins with a high flash point, a very low pour point, and is absent of PAH and BTEX. It is designed to replace diesel or low-toxicity mineral oils in severe climates or where low vapour pressure fluids are required. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition.
Datasheet
NEOFLO 3121 NEOFLO 3121 is part of our Premium series of synthetic olefin and paraffin drilling fluids. NEOFLO 3121 is an internal olefin with a carbon chain length of C13 and C14. NEOFLO 3121 is especially well-suited for land-based applications. The product has a low viscosity and pour point and performs as well as or better than traditional oil-based fluids, especially in cold weather environments. Datasheet
NEOFLO 4633 NEOFLO 4633 is a premium-quality drilling fluid suitable for use in land based and deep water applications. Please refer to data sheet for full compliancy definition. Because of its clean natural gas origin, it contains virtually no aromatics and contaminants such as sulphur and amines. NEOFLO 4633 readily biodegrades, is non-toxic in the water column and has low sediment toxicity. It has a low viscosity, a low pour point and relatively high flash point making it ideal for deepwater exploration. It is widely used as a non-aqueous base fluid in an invert emulsion drilling mud in the upstream oil and gas industry. NEOFLO 4633 is a mixture of alkanes with carbon chain length of predominantly C10 to C20. Datasheet

Environmental performance

Not all drilling base fluids have equal environmental performance.

Differences in physical/chemical characteristics result in differences in key environmental performance criteria such as aerobic biodegradability, anaerobic biodegradability, water column toxicity and sediment toxicity.

Non-aqueous fluids have been used for many years in drilling for oil and gas. Typical synthetic base fluids have been internal olefins, alpha olefins, polyalphaolefins, paraffins, esters and blends of these materials. These fluids offer improved lubricity, thermal stability, and well-bore integrity.

In addition to delivering high drilling performance, these fluids can be an important component of an environmentally sound drilling operation. For some of these fluids, drilled cuttings removed by the solids control equipment can be safely discharged into the marine environment because of their enhanced environmental properties.

The environmental properties of base fluids depend on the physical and chemical characteristics of the material. Classification (eg whether a product is a "synthetic") or point of origin does not necessarily guarantee specific environmental performance. Field environmental fate and effects data assessment is generally viewed as the best practice to understand the potential environmental impact of a base fluid.

How are synthetic drilling fluids defined?

In the absence of field data, laboratory biodegradation and toxicity test data is recommended to assess environmental fate and effect. An overall assessment of potential environmental impact can only be completed when a full environmental data set is available. This includes both anaerobic (absence of oxygen) and aerobic (presence of oxygen) biodegradation test data as well as water column and sediment toxicity test data.

The following table illustrates typical toxicity test data for selected water column species.

Compound Mysid SPP¹ 96-h LC50 (mg/L) Fathead Minnow² 96-h LC50 (mg/L) Daphnia magna² 48-h EC50 (mg/L)
Internal olefins > 1000 - -
Alpha olefins > 1000 - > 1000
Synthetic paraffin 1 - > 1000 > 1000
Synthetic paraffin 2 > 1000 - -
Synthetic paraffin 3 > 1000 - -
Diesel - 100 - 300 -

¹ Seawater test
² Freshwater test

Water column toxicity test results generally show that olefin and paraffin base fluids are non-toxic to water column organisms, but diesel base fluids do exhibit toxicity.

When toxicity to sediment-dwelling organisms is considered, internal olefin and some alpha olefin products have significantly lower toxicity compared to most paraffinic materials. The table that follows illustrates typical relative sediment toxicity data for several types of base fluids.

Typical sediment toxicity of some drilling base fluids.

Compound Relative sediment toxicity ¹
1618 Internal olefin 1.0
Internal olefin 2 0.6
Alpha olefin 1 28
Alpha olefin 2 1.0
Synthetic paraffin 1 15
Synthetic paraffin 2 16 
Synthetic paraffin 3 19
Synthetic paraffin 4 6.0 
Synthetic paraffin 5 1.0
Diesel 18

¹ Relative sediment toxicity compared to C1618 internal olefin. Higher relative values indicate greater sediment toxicity.

The type of olefin or paraffin makes a difference. Most paraffins and some olefins that can be used as base fluids have significant sediment toxicity, similar to that of diesel.

Biodegradation test data for both aerobic and anaerobic conditions are summarised in the table that follows.

Typical aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation of base fluids.

Compound Aerobic biodegradation (%) ¹ Anaerobic biodegradation (%) ²
Internal olefin 1 - 50 - 55
Internal olefin 2 60 - 80 55 - 60
Alpha olefin 1 60 - 75 60 - 80
Alpha olefin 2 60 - 75 50 - 60
Synthetic paraffin 1 55 - 60 17
Synthetic paraffin 2 - 10
Synthetic paraffin 5 63 -
Synthetic paraffin 6 > 90 -
Diesel 60 - 75 3

¹ Aerobic biodegradation assessed by OECD 301 or 306.
² Anaerobic biodegradation assessed by modified ISO 11734.

Which drilling base fluid is best for the environment?

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to this question. The full potential environmental impact of a base fluid can only be assessed with a complete environmental data set that includes water column and sediment toxicity, aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation, and deposition of the cuttings and base fluid concentration in the sediment.

All olefin and paraffin base fluids and diesel will biodegrade aerobically. However, under anaerobic conditions, alpha olefin and internal olefin base fluids biodegrade more extensively (> 50%) than paraffins and diesel (< 5 - 20%). As a result, paraffin base fluids may persist in the environment for longer periods of time if they are not exposed to aerobic conditions.

The concentration of base fluid in sediments may decrease with time after discharge by re-suspension, bed transport, mixing, and biodegradation. In many cases, sediment-dwelling microorganisms are able to use base fluids as a source of nutrition. However, biodegradation of base fluids in sediments may result in a decrease in sediment oxygen concentration. If the initial base fluid concentration is sufficiently high, the sediments could become anoxic (oxygen depleted). Ideally, base fluids should be biodegradable under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Product range guide

NEOFLO fluids help to reduce the risks associated with offshore discharges without sacrificing performance.

Because drilling environments vary, we offer three product series with varying levels of environmental performance profiles - Premium, Enhanced and Standard - to better match fluid needs to drilling requirements.

NEOFLO products are clear and colourless liquids and most are odourless. Many NEOFLO products have the optimum pour points, viscosity profile, and flash points required for both deep- and shallow-water applications.

NEOFLO 1 Premium Series

These olefin fluids comply with offshore discharge regulations in the Gulf of Mexico set by the US Government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

Product Key features
NEOFLO 1-58 Gulf of Mexico compliant¹ internal olefin designed for deep- and shallow-water applications.
NEOFLO 1-68 Gulf of Mexico compliant¹ alpha olefin designed for shallow-water applications.

¹ Gulf of Mexico Compliant:
i) PAH < 10 ppm according to EPA 1654
ii) Toxicity equal to or less than 65:35 1618IO reference fluid according to ASTM E-1367
iii) Biodegradation equal to or greater than 65:35 1618IO reference fluid according to modified ISO 11734.

 

NEOFLO 2 Enhanced Alpha Olefins Series

These olefin fluids biodegrade under aerobic and anaerobic conditions but are not compliant with sediment toxicity standards for offshore discharge in the Gulf or Mexico as set by the US Government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Product Key features
NEOFLO 2-46 Alpha olefin fluid that biodegrades under anaerobic conditions. Designed for deep- and shallow-water applications.
NEOFLO 2-48 Alpha olefin fluid that biodegrades under anaerobic conditions. Designed for deep-and shallow-water applications.

 

BIO-BASE™ with NEOFLO 3 Standard Paraffin Series

These paraffin fluids are ideal as diesel or low toxicity mineral oil replacements and for use in zero-discharge offshore operations or land operations.

For this product line, Shell Chemicals manufacture paraffin ingredients for drilling applications under the NEOFLO trade name. The NEOFLO ingredients are turned over to Shrieve Chemical Products Company, which will market paraffin base fluids under the BIO-BASE™ trade name.

BIO-BASE™ is a registered trademark of Shrieve Chemical Products Company.

BIO-BASE product NEOFLO ingredients Key features
BIO-BASE 300 NEOFLO 3-14 Linear synthetic paraffin absent of PAH. Designed to replace diesel or low toxicity mineral oils.
BIO-BASE 360 NEOFLO 3-14 and NEOFLO 3-56 Mixture of synthetic linear and regular branched paraffins with high flashpoint, very low pour point, and absent of PAH. Designed to replace diesel or low toxicity mineral oils in severe climates or where low vapour pressure fluids are required.
BIO-BASE 560 NEOFLO 3-14 Mixture of synthetic linear and traditional linear paraffins absent of PAH with a high flashpoint. Designed to replace diesel or low toxicity mineral oils where low vapour pressure fluids are required.

 

Limitations on use of NEOFLO 3

Warning: for paraffin base fluids

Offshore discharge

Do not discharge this product or drill cuttings containing this product into marine environments without verifying that it meets all regulatory requirements for marine discharge in the region of use.

Land drilling and zero discharge operations

This product should only be used for land drilling operations and zero discharge operations where drill cuttings are managed via accepted cuttings management practices such as injection, thermal treatment, land farming, or composting.Similar to diesel cuttings, if drill cuttings containing this product are discharged to or placed in the environment, best cuttings management practices should be used.

Why choose Shell Chemicals?

In the last 30 years Shell chemicals companies have pioneered and refined alpha olefin production, growing to become one of the largest alpha olefin producers in the world.

However, being the biggest producer doesn't always mean being the best supplier. Mindful of that, we balance our world-scale production with the other attributes needed in a first-tier supplier: quality products and top-rate service.

We offer a broad product line for the oilfield fluids market, including internal olefins, alpha olefins and paraffins. The size and scope of our operations give you security of supply as well as a logistical infrastructure that we can turn to your benefit.

Shell chemicals companies are proactive and responsible industry players. Our global health, safety and environment staff devote hundreds of hours each year to serving in professional trade and science associations and on government, academic and industry panels. They're helping shape future products and processes that will safeguard the environment for all of us.

But one of the best parts of doing business with the Shell chemicals companies is access to the network of Shell people. As a customer, you'll be able to work with product and technical experts based in Shell's technology centres in Houston and Amsterdam. Additionally, you'll be paired with a sales executive whose goal is to get to know you and understand your present and future needs. Whether it's getting product when and where you need it or meeting your aspirations for even more effective formulations, we will help you get it done.

Olefins & Paraffins

What are olefins?

The term 'olefins', also known as alkenes, refers to a large number of compounds that contain carbon and hydrogen and have at least one double bond in their structure. Short-chain olefins, like ethylene, are cracked from naphtha or natural gas. Ethylene is then oligomerised into longer chain linear alpha olefins, ranging from 4 to 24 carbons in length.

Alpha olefins (1-alkenes) are characterised by their high purity, high degree of linearity, and a double bond between the first and second carbon atom. For drilling fluid applications, alpha olefins in the C14 to C18 range are used because they have the right mix of physical properties like viscosity, pour point and flash point.

Internal olefins are produced from linear alpha olefins by catalytically moving the double bond to different positions in the molecule. As a result, the pour point of the fluid decreases significantly, thus enabling these materials to be used successfully in cooler deep-water applications. Internal olefins used as base fluids for drilling muds typically have carbon chain lengths in the C15 to C18 range.

What are paraffins?

Paraffins, also known as alkanes, refers to a large number of compounds that contain carbon and hydrogen and have single bonds only (fully saturated). They may be linear (normal), branched (iso) or cyclic (ring structures). Since both the carbon number and the linearity impact the physical properties substantially, the carbon range used for drilling fluid applications may vary widely from C10 to C22. Unlike linear alpha olefins, several processes exist for producing paraffins. They include refinery extraction, Fischer Tropsch synthesis, and hydroformylation of linear alpha olefins.

Synthetic drilling fluids

What factors lead to a drilling fluid being classified as a synthetic?

There are two on-going debates in the Exploration and Production community about synthetic drilling fluids:

  • "What defines and classifies a drilling fluid as synthetic?"
  • "Are there really environmental benefits to using synthetic drilling fluids?"

In this section we'll explore the definitions given by various regulatory agencies to help clarify the factors that lead to a drilling fluid being classified as a synthetic.

What is a synthetic?

In basic terms, "synthetic" applies to the process by which the end product was manufactured, where the ending molecules of the process are not normally found in nature. Fluids from chemical processes are defined as being "synthetic", while fluids extracted from refinery streams are generally defined as being "oil-based."

In order to define "synthetic", as it applies to drilling fluids, we reviewed the non-aqueous drilling fluid (NADF) offshore disposal regulations as legislated in several parts of the world. This included NADF regulations from Europe (OSPAR, 2000), the United States (USEPA, 2001), Canada (CNOSP, 2002), and Australia (DoIR, 1999).  We also included a comprehensive review of NADF by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP, 2003).

Base Oil Process Europe (2000)
Canada (2002) US (2001) Australia (1999) OGP (2003)
Diesel Refinery extraction OBF1 OBF OBF OBF OBF
Mineral oils/ paraffins Refinery extraction OBF OBF OBF OBF OBF
Mineral oils/ paraffins Refinery extraction and severe hydrotreatment SBF2 EMOBF3 EMOBF NA4 EMOBF
Synthesised paraffins Fischer - Tropsch or LAO hydroformylation SBF SBF SBF NA SBF
Linear alpha olefins Ethylene oligomerisation SBF SBF SBF SBF SBF
Internal olefins LAO isomerisation SBF SBF SBF SBF SBF
Esters Condensation of fatty acids and alcohol SBF SBF SBF SBF SBF

1 OBF = oil base fluid
2 SBF = synthetic base fluid
3 EMOBF = enhanced mineral oil base fluid
4 NA = not addressed

As the chart shows, all the regulatory bodies and organisations agree that diesel, mineral oil and paraffins extracted from refineries are oil base fluids (OBF). They also agree that synthetic base fluids (SBF) include paraffins produced via Fischer Tropsch (gas to liquids) or linear alpha olefin hydroformylation processes, linear alpha olefins, internal olefins, and esters.

Controversy, however, continues over fluids extracted from refinery streams that are severely hydrotreated. Hydrotreatment is a processing step used to convert aromatics in fluids to paraffins. In the process, some minor chemical reactions occur as the aromatics are treated. Europe's OSPAR classifies such fluids as "synthetic". The US EPA, CNOSP and OGP classify these products as neither an SBF nor an OBF, but instead create an entirely new category known as enhanced mineral oil base fluid (EMOBF).

By reviewing product classifications, we learn that the "synthetic" label has little bearing on environmental impact. There are differences between products labelled SBF, OBF, and EMOBF. Even within a certain class of compounds (eg paraffins), some products may have less environmental impact than others.

Alpha versus internal olefin

By choosing NEOFLO, you are in a better position to side-step alpha olefin production volatility.

Shell chemicals companies employ the proprietary Shell Higher Olefin Process (SHOP) technology to produce alpha olefins. The flexibility of SHOP then enables us to make internal olefins to customer demand, which provides a reliable supply of C15 to C18 internal olefins for drilling fluid applications.

What's so challenging about making olefins?

Alpha olefins and internal olefins are both produced using ethylene. Most technologies used to produce alpha olefins from ethylene result in a broad spectrum of alpha olefin products. This broad range of products is produced in a fixed ratio and producers have limited ability to control the relative quantity of alpha olefins they can make.

Having produced them, the manufacturers must economically market all the products in the range. Since end use markets for olefins vary significantly - from detergents to polyethylene co-monomer, to oilfield fluids and lubricants - meeting the demands for each grade and market is challenging. This was especially true for the oilfield fluids market, when in 1998-2002 there were supply shortages.

Enter superior technology...

The Shell Higher Olefin Process (SHOP) is proprietary technology that is well-suited to meet the volatile demands of the oilfield fluids market. SHOP gives Shell chemicals companies significant flexibility, allowing them to alter the chain lengths of alpha olefins and convert them to usable internal olefins. Using this technology, a reliable supply of C15 to C18 internal olefins can be made without the challenge of fixed ratio production.

Capacity, expansion and logistics improvements completed in 2002 at the Geismar, Louisiana, manufacturing plant enable Shell chemicals companies to extract products in the C15 to C18 range and deliver them efficiently to market. Improvements at Geismar also included more tank storage and better logistics flow to truck, rail, barge and ocean-going ships.

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