Drilling mud’s rheological characteristics, such as plastic viscosity and yield point, are adversely affected with an inappropriate mud formulation. Native starch is one of the most important components in water-based mud because it improves the rheological and filtration characteristics of the mud. The native starch stability under various temperature and exposure time re-gimes is an important concern for utilizing starch in oil and gas drilling operations. In this work, tapioca starch was modified using carboxymethylation for the first time in order to improve its performance in non-damaging water-based muds. The modified starch was characterized by Fou-rier-transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. The thermal stability was tested using thermal gravimetric analysis. Various mud blends were formulated based on the experimental design using response surface methodology (RSM) to investigate their performance at various temperature conditions. Thirty experimental runs were carried out based on the selected factors and responses considering the optimal (custom) design, and the results were analyzed through ANOVA. The Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction results confirmed the carboxymethylation of starch. The TGA analysis revealed strong thermal stability after modifica-tion. Additionally, the Power law model (PLM) described the obtained rheological data for the selected formulations, resulting in determination coefficients of more than 0.95. Furthermore, the examined samples showed a reduction in the flow behavior index from 0.30 to 0.21 and an increase in the consistency index from 5.6 to 15.1. Optimization and confirmation results revealed the adequacy of the generated empirical models for both plastic viscosity and yield point. The obtained consistency index values provided a direct relationship with the modified starch concentration, indi-cating an improvement in the cutting carrying capacity of mud. Based on the current literature sur-vey, the studied formulation has not been reported in the literature.
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