One of the most expensive and troubling issues with drilling operations is how to handle and dispose of the drilling mud. Drilling mud is the thick, heavy liquid used by oil and gas drilling operations for lubricating the drill bit and for catching and lifting the rock cuttings from the boring hole up to the surface for disposal. Drilling mud is usually comprised of barite, bentonite, and other ingredients which creates both a highly viscous and heavy mixture. Both of these characteristics of drilling mud, along with being highly abrasive, make it one of the most difficult slurries to pump.
Drilling Mud & Drill Cuttings Disposal Methods
Currently, most onshore drilling rigs dispose of drilling mud by mechanically loading the used drilling mud onto trucks via excavator or hire vacuum trucks to come and transport the mud away. Another method of disposal is by mechanically loading the drilling mud into poly-lined ponds until a threshold is met, before being trucked off for permanent disposal. Both these options are expensive and require a lot of manpower. Conventional pumps cannot move the drilling mud due to the high viscosity of up to 1000 cp and specific gravity of up to 1.9. This along with the large cuttings cause a nightmare for centrifugal pumps. Most pumps cannot even move the material and the ones that can have their impellers and volutes chewed up by the abrasive nature of the drilling mud, greatly shortening the lifespan of the pump.
To help the drilling operation, engineers build an open pit around the borehole to hold additional pieces of equipment called a cellar. Mud, rock cuttings, and drilling fluids could also accumulate and be stored in the drilling site’s cellar. Once too much mud has accumulated, it will need to be pumped out into a designated disposal area.
Offshore drilling rigs follow a similar process in which the mud is loaded into empty drums and held on the oil platform. When a certain number of filled drums is met, the drums are then loaded onto barges or vessels which take the drilling mud to the shore to unload and dispose of.
The EDDY Drilling Mud Transfer Pump
The EDDY Pump is ideal for drilling mud pump applications and can be connected directly onto the drilling rigs to pump the drilling mud at distances over a mile for disposal. This eliminates the need for costly vacuum trucks and also the manpower needed to mechanically move the drilling mud. The reasons why the EDDY Pump is capable of moving the drilling mud is due to the hydrodynamic principle that the pump creates, which is similar to the EDDY current of a tornado. This tornado motion allows for the higher viscosity and specific gravity pumping ability. This along with the large tolerance between the volute and the rotor allows for large objects like rock cuttings to pass through the pump without obstruction. The large tolerance of the EDDY Pump also enables the pump to last many times longer than centrifugal pumps without the need for extended downtime or replacement parts. The EDDY Pump is the lowest total life cycle pump on the market.
For offshore oil rigs, the cost and storage space required for constant accumulation and disposal of drilling mud is a huge problem. Using the EDDY Pump, the drilling mud could be pumped directly into disposal vessels or large tanks, bypassing the need to store the mud on-site. The EDDY Pump could then directly pump the drilling mud from the tanks to the vessels and could even be coupled with another EDDY Pump which can be used to unload mud from the vessels. Over the course of operation, these factors will save heavily on money and labor for both the oil and gas drilling rigs and the mud disposal companies.
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