How Solids Control Centrifuges Improve Efficiency in Drilling Operations

The right solids control equipment proactively manages the drilling fluid, reduces costs, and helps the rig achieve operational efficiency. But how?

The first line of defense is the shaker. It removes solids from drilling mud as it passes over a vibrating screen. This step is necessary for downstream hydrocyclones and centrifuges to overload beyond their capacity quickly.

Reduced Diesel Consumption

Many waste reduction strategies, such as chemical flocculants, can be pricey. However, the Solids Control Centrifuges system can be more effectively and economically optimized for the drilling operation. The least quantity of makeup water is required using a technology that lessens mud weight while keeping the necessary fluid qualities.

Traditional mechanical solids control systems rely on the screen size to remove solids and sludge; however, ultra-fine particles not passing the screens can negatively impact mud properties. These low-gravity solids (LGS) require dilution and reprocessing to lower their concentration. This process adds cost to the drilling operations, requiring transporting and disposing contaminated cuttings to distant landfills.

Adding a decanter centrifuge to the system allows for more significant removal of LGS. Alfa Laval three-phase decanter centrifuges efficiently separate sludge from liquid, reducing the volume of waste to be transported and disposed of. It can result in significant savings for the drilling contractor by lowering the costs associated with waste management, hauling, and disposal.

Reduced Waste

A well-engineered solids control system is designed to maintain specific drilling fluid properties while minimizing drill cuttings. It is achieved mechanically by removing the unwanted drilled solids or cuttings from the base mud.

Decanter centrifuges reduce the density of drilling mud by separating solid particles, increasing the ground’s life and reducing rig equipment maintenance costs. They also separate bentonite clay, a typical drilling fluid additive that improves lubrication and performance. The separation and recovery of bentonite can significantly reduce the amount of mud that needs to be disposed of, lowering waste disposal costs.

A dependable centrifuge, such as the CD-500 High-Volume (HV), designed for exceptional low-gravity solids separation and barite recovery, can significantly reduce the overall volume of drilling waste shipped off-site for injection or onshore disposal. It helps E&P Companies avoid waste-related expenses such as non-productive time, mud conditioning costs, and environmental liability.

Reduced Dilution Rates

Traditionally, performance tracking of solids control, drilling fluid, and waste management systems relies solely on daily mud reports and waste trucking manifests submitted by the drilling fluid engineers and truck drivers at the well site location. This approach enables tracking daily dilution rates, footage drilled, and commercial solids added to the system.

The mud must be temporarily thickened by adding more water or oil to the whole dirt to prevent the dilution rate from rapidly increasing. This process, called “dilution,” destroys the mud properties and introduces unwanted contaminants.

A modern, high-efficiency centrifuge uses a series of hydrocyclones that work in tandem to separate and classify the particles within the mud, improving barite recovery and overall solids separation. The CD-500 High-Volume centrifuge also utilizes a unique design that allows for significant feed rates and reduces dilution rates without diluting the quality of the mud. Each piece of mechanical equipment in a solids control system “works” on a specific size range, so the maximum benefit is achieved by having multiple parts that remove as many different particle sizes as possible.

Increased Drilling Fluid Life

Using mechanical solids control equipment allows for a higher drilling rate by eliminating excessive dilution and chemical requirements. In addition, it can double the life of mud so that it does not need to be disposed of, further reducing transportation and disposal costs.

The primary objective of solids control is to eliminate contaminants or large drilled solid particles without significantly impacting commercial-grade drilling fluid solids. It requires the proper selection and sizing of solids removal treating equipment to process a significant percentage of the mud circulation. Those solids not removed by the equipment will undergo mechanical degradation, resulting in lost circulation and costly damage to drilling components. The advanced system also provides a flexible operating profile that can adapt to different shale basins and drilling conditions.

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