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Removal of Olefin Based Drilling Fluid Contaminates from
Geologic Materials for SAR Analyses

Over the last few years we have seen an increase in the use of hydrocarbon based mud systems. These drilling muds provide a source of immense contamination and interference with normal geochemical characterization.


Baseline Resolution, Inc. worked to develop a procedure that separated Olefin based Nova Plus mud filtrate from bitumens and oils and produce SAR fractions that are suitable for biomarker and carbon isotope analyses.

First Approach - Traditional SARA analysis incorporates topping of the sample in order to stabilize the aliquot prior to extraction and analysis. Therefore, extreme topping was utilized to determine if the contaminants could be removed during the topping process.


  • Even with over 70 weight percent topping loss a significant amount of contamination remains.
  • Comparison of biomarker ions reveals some differences between samples but no significant improvement.
  • This procedure may be useful for samples containing low concentrations of biomarkers but generally will provide little improvement in display of the biomarker distributions.
  • These fractions are not suitable for carbon isotope analysis (though they may be marginally suitable if topped longer).

Second Approach - Baseline Resolution developed a Selective Olefin Adsorption Process (SOAP) which used proprietary processes to remove the Nova Plus olefins from the sample.

This chromatogram is the same sample shown previously, but after the SOAP clean-up. Note in the second analysis, after clean-up, the alkane concentrations remain the same, but look larger, because the Nova Plus contamination has been removed.


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