In the oil drilling industry, xanthan gum is used in large quantities, usually to thicken drilling mud. These drilling fluids serve to carry the solids cut by the drilling bit back to the surface. . When the circulation stops, the solids still remain suspended in the drilling fluid.

The widespread use of horizontal drilling and the demand for good control of drilled solids has led to the expanded use of xanthan gum. Xanthan gum has also been added to concrete poured underwater, to increase its viscosity and prevent washout.

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