Drilling Fluids

What are Drilling Fluids?

Drilling fluids, or mud, as it is known in the drilling industry, are a key part of the drilling process in the oil and gas industry. Their principal application is to clean, cool and lubricate the drill bit, return chips of rock known as cuttings to the surface, and keep the borehole stabilised and open.

During the drilling process, a continuous circulation of drilling fluid is used. Fluid is pumped down the drill pipe, through the drill bit, and returns via the cavity between the drill pipe and borehole carrying the drill cuttings to the surface. The schematic below shows this process.

The Drilling fluid system used while drilling is a combination of various chemicals mixed in calculated proportions to attain the required properties to successfully drill a well. The recipe of mixing the chemicals varies from well to well depending on the geologic conditions, pressures and temperatures of that particular well. For instance while drilling a high temperature well, the drilling fluid system will contain more “high temperature stabilizers” than a low temperature well, a high pressure well with had higher density fluid than a low pressure well. The science of formulating the ideal recipe of drilling fluid for a particular well is called “Mud Engineering” and the people who do this are called Mud Engineers. Every drilling rig will have atleast one Mud Engineer who designs the drilling fluid system according to the requirement of the well, maintains the properties of the system and trouble shoot any unforeseen circumstance that may arise while drilling.

The Mud Engineers mix up all the chemicals in the predetermined quantities in big tanks at a drill site. This slurry is then pumped down the drill pipe, through the nozzle of the bit, up the annulus and traditionally the fluid then circulates through a shale shaker or mud pits to remove the cuttings from the fluid for reuse. And the cuttings generated are dumped in a reserve pit. This flow-loop is shown in the picture below

There are two types of drilling fluids
1. Water Based
2. Oil Based

Water based drilling fluids have their limitations in terms of being used at higher temperatures and pressures and cannot be used in the deep wells. Oil being a better lubricating medium and a more stable carrier is used when drilling more challenging wells. Emulsifiers are a key component of oil based drilling fluid and Gumpro is the only manufacturer of such emulsifiers in this part of the world.

Gumpro is a manufacturer of various speciality chemicals that are mixed and engineered at the drill site for drilling oil and gas wells.