The Acceptable Solids Content on a Drilling Job

Drilling JobWhile some equipment operators and drillers consider drilling as a disruptive process, they have the opportunity to manage this process and ensure a successful bore. However, what would you do if the damage made while completing that drill stops you from moving to your next job?

Look back at how often you maintain your drilling equipment, specifically your fluid lines, swivel, mud pump, and valves. Have you been keeping a record? It is likely that unwanted solids will affect the downhole conditions and decelerate the boring process. But how will you know if the accumulated abrasive solids on your current project will impact your next one? If your rig makes you replace your mud pumps every quarter, then yes, solids are affecting your drilling.

The Allowable Solids Content

What is the allowable quantity or percent of solids content in a drilling fluid? A mud engineer would say less than 1 percent, while a mud pump engineer would say zero. Despite the difference in opinion, they both agree that the drilling job becomes more difficult if there are more solids in the drilling fluid as it requires more horsepower to clean the drilled hole. The goal, therefore, is to prevent the accumulation of undesirable solids.

Prevention Plans

Understanding the accumulation speed of solids while drilling is the first step. To do this, frequently check the sand content and the drilling fluid’s density. Then, design a drilling fluid system that manages the accumulation of solids. The drilling fluid should have adequate suspension properties to transport both the cuttings and the uphole velocity of the mud pump to the surface. This way, it forces the solids out of the suspension and to the bottom of the pit.

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Another prevention plan would be to perform mechanical separation. This is required when unwanted solids decompose over 74 microns. To perform this, set up a piece of equipment called a hydrocyclone. Make sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendation when configuring the proper gallons per minute (pgm) and the pounds per square inch (psi). When configured correctly, it will eliminate unwanted solids before they damage the drill work.

Regardless whether you create a drilling fluid system or install a hydrocyclone, the important thing is to take out the undesirable solids when they rise to the surface for the first time. Talk to a local mud engineer if you need assistance in creating a customized drilling fluid system or in configuring a hydrocyclone.