In every construction activity, waste generation is an unavoidable action. Waste generation is not a problem in itself; the problem is waste management. Waste management after a drilling operation has always been quite a challenge for the trenchless industry, but Solids Control is changing the narrative.
The drilling fluid used in trenchless technology to offer lubrication during pipe installation carries drill cuttings from the borehole. Different projects have different waste management and guidelines. Recycling the drilling mud is quickly gaining traction as it saves costs connected with mud disposal.
Companies are now adopting different technologies to manage waste, such as waste recycling, onsite disposal, incineration, thermal desorption, and solids control.
What Is Solid Control?
Waste management through solids control is where solid particles produced during rock cuttings are separated from the drilling mud. The demand for the solid control system has considerably increased due to the need to minimize the environmental impact that results from oil drilling.
When solids are efficiently separated from the drilling mud, the volume of waste generated during the drilling process is significantly reduced. A 10% removal of drilled soils can reduce waste by up to 1000 barrels.
Solid control equipment typically comprises:
- Mud tanks that mix and store drilling mud
- Shale shaker that eliminates large soils
- Hydroclones that accelerate the settling process
- The centrifugal pumps that provide pressure and volume necessary for hydroclone operation
- Mud cleaner
- A conveyance system that transports cut, etc.
Importance of Solid Controls
A Solid Control system increases the usable life of the drilling fluid during the drilling process. Environmental regulations are now strict on drilling waste disposal and discourage mud dumping and dilution. Thanks to solid control, the drilling process and used mud disposal are now economical.
For mud quality suitable for recirculation, the solids contained in the mud must be below 5%. A high concentration of the drilling mud reduces the filter cake quality, increases its thickness, and affects downhill filtration. A low-quality filter cake increase drag, swab pressures, and sloughing during the drilling process.
Achieving Effective Solid Control
All methods of solid control systems must be strictly followed for all solids to be removed. Besides being hydraulically balanced, the system should make both scalp and fine cut and sufficiently mix and recirculate the drilling fluid.
Once the drilling fluid is pumped out of the borehole, the solids control system should remove most of the big-sized particles without affecting the drilling fluid solids. This is only possible if the system equipment is set to process up to 125% of the mud circulation rate.
Waste and Disposal Treatment
After the solid Control process is done, the drilling fluid waste disposal follows. Only toxic waste, such as oil-based mud, need treatment before removal. The methods used to dispose of the waste include stabilization, dewatering, thermal desorption, and cuttings re-injection.
The use of a proper solids control system makes a project cost-effective. The volume is reduced when solids are separated from the mud resulting in reduced transport costs.
Wrapping Up on Solids Control
Now you understand why Solids Control is essential. When properly applied, operators will realize improved penetration and reduced mud and waste disposal costs. Generally, the entire drilling process will be more