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|Mr. Garrett brings up several interesting points with respect to the proposed API specification for "nontreated bentonite." However, although not explicitly stated, these specifications are being written based strictly on bentonites from the Wyoming/South Dakota area. Other sodium bentonites may be suitable for use as drill mud but will be unacceptable since the specifications are designed for Wyoming bentonites. Regardless of the API's intent that its specifications are intended only as guidelines, they are generally adhered to on an international basis and, for practical purposes, might as well be chiseled in stone. Estes (1986) notes that the quality of bentonite available from Wyoming producers has steadily declined since the early 1960's. The plastic viscosity: yield point (PV:YP) ratio was included in the current API 13A specification primarily to prevent excessive polymer treatment of lower quality bentonite to make drill mud. However, with development of polymers designed to control YP, this specification cannot ensure that only high-quality bentonites are used for drill mud. Nor will the new specifications for untreated bentonites. Other sodium bentonites are available. Bentonite produced in southeast Oregon demonstrates superior performance characteristics without addition of polymer or other chemicals. However, the exceptionally high purity of these deposits leads to a relatively high YP:PV ratio since the naturally high YP probably results from the higher purity and smaller particle size of this bentonite (Rath. 1986 and personal communication). These bentonite; typically have a smectite component exceeding 90% (Rath, 1985), compared with 70% to 75% smectite for typical Wyoming bentonites, as determined by X- ray diffraction and tests for colloid content. As evident from the accompanying table, the untreated Oregon bentonite has excellent rheological properties, though different from Wyoming bentonites due to the high purity. Additionally, this bentonite reacts well with polymers typically used in the oil industry, making it eminently suitable for use in a low-solids mud system. The extremely low grit content, less that 0.5% on a 75 mm (200-mesh) wet sieve, greatly exceeds the standards set for Wyoming bentonite. Optimum rheological properties are obtained at a higher moisture content than Wyoming bentonites. At 10% moisture, API 13A maximum, the clay is overdried, again reflecting the high smectite content. In summary, the specifications proposed by the API Task Group will ensure that only Wyoming producers can supply "nontreated bentonite to the oilfield since specifications are|