When oil and gas companies dig wells, they cause surface disruptions and physical and chemical changes in the reservoir bed. Solids control separates useless drilling cuttings from the drilling fluid, allowing substances that harm the environment to be disposed of safely. At the same time, other solids necessary to the drilling process can be reused.
Costs associated with waste management, waste disposal, and materials like barite and bentonite necessary for oil and gas exploration are rising. A good solids control system increases the reusability of materials used in the drilling process, preventing them from becoming waste. Solids control systems reduce the environmental impact of drilling and lower costs for oil and gas companies. Every drill site has different conditions and requirements, so it is important to determine if a solids control system would benefit your operation.
What is a Solids Control System?
Solids control is used on drilling projects to help lessen waste production and increase efficiency. These systems separate solids of different sizes that appear in drilling fluids when crushed by drill bits and carried out to the surface. Solids control involves multiple steps that use several components to effectively remove solids and prepare the drilling fluid to be recycled. Drilling fluid containing solids moves sequentially through the following steps to remove increasingly smaller particulate matter:
- Mud Tank: Drilling fluid is contained in the mud tank. The depth of your well determines the number of these cone-shaped tanks you will need. All other equipment is attached to the mud tank to facilitate solids control.
- Shale Shaker: The shale shaker is the first line of defense that separates the biggest solids in the drilling fluid. It uses vibrations and screening panels to remove the largest of the debris.
- Vacuum Degasser: Throughout the drilling process, gases can form and cause bubbles in the drilling fluid. The vacuum degasser separates the air and gases from the drilling fluid.
- Desander and Desilter: The desander and desilter remove the medium to small-sized debris that the shale shaker was unable to capture. The desander takes care of slightly larger solids, and the desilter gets the smaller particles left behind. Sometimes these systems are combined and called a mud cleaner.
- Centrifuge: The centrifuge is a hydrocyclone like desanders and desilters but is used to extract the finest solids from the drilling fluid. Once the solids are removed, the clean mud is recycled through the well.
Solids Control System Benefits
There are various benefits to a good solids control system, especially for the oil and gas industry. They include:
- Minimized Operational Costs: Using complete solids control units decreases drilling waste by 1.5 times the normal amount and reduces chemical reagent consumption by 15-20%. This results in more efficient drilling and reduced spending on chemical reagents.
- Environment and Regulatory Compliance: Fewer additives in the mining process means fewer chemicals enter the reservoir bed, resulting in a cleaner more environmentally friendly operation.
- Reduced Need for Additives: A 15-20% reduction in chemical reagents means fewer additives in the drilling process which lowers costs.
- Reduced Waste: By removing solids in the drilling fluid and mud, less fluid goes to waste and ends up in landfills. Instead, the solids are removed from the fluid allowing it to be used again.
- Improved Efficiency: Recycling drilling fluids and using fewer chemical reagents helps increase the overall efficiency of the entire drilling process.
- Reliability: Fewer solids and gases in the drilling fluid increase the equipment’s reliability and mean fewer equipment malfunctions. Drilling fluid that is effectively cleaned prevents equipment damage and blockages, reducing the need for frequent repair.
Should You Implement A Solids Control System?
Solids control systems make oil and gas drilling projects more efficient and keep operational costs low, but there are some things to keep in mind when deciding if a solids control system is right for your operation.
- Current Rig: Ensure that whichever solids control system you implement complements your existing equipment. Each part of the solids control system must be evaluated to ensure compatibility with your current rig system. Hydrocyclones and centrifuges must be correctly sized to facilitate flow rates.
- Personnel: Do you have the personnel to maintain your solids control system, or is it cost-effective to hire them? Solids control systems require skilled technicians to achieve optimal performance.
- Customization: Is a solids control system a good fit for your project, and is a full system required? Depending on the rig system, only certain parts of a solids control system may be necessary.
Solids Control Equipment at Triflo
A good solids control system is environmentally friendly and cost-effective in many cases. However, it is important to evaluate your current systems to determine if solids control would be an effective option. At Triflo, we are committed to fulfilling the fluid processing requirements of our clients in the oil and gas industry and we can guide you through the process. To learn more about our solids control systems, browse our equipment page or contact us for more information.