Mud Conditioning System on The Rig

Mud conditioning system is one of the critical systems on a drilling rig because it helps keep the drilling fluid in the specification. Drilling with good mud properties drastically reduce operational risks as pipe stuck, high ECD, etc. This VDO will demonstrate you the basic knowledge of mud conditioning system. We also add the full VDO transcript to help people who sometimes cannot catch all content in the VDO. We wish you would enjoy learning about the mud conditioning system from this VDO. Please feel free to give us some feedback.

Full VDO Transcript



The Shale Shaker mechanically takes out the large cuttings from the mud. It does not however, remove very fine cuttings and other small solid particles. These solids can be fine sand particles and other very fine materials often called silt. Good drilling practice requires removing these undesirable solids. If not removed the solids can increase the weight of the mud more than required, reduce the bit’s penetration rate and significantly increase the rate of wear on circulating equipment.

The Rig uses mechanical solids removing by equipment such as Hydrocyclones and Centrifuges to remove the fine solids. Sometimes the hole penetrates a formation that has small amounts of gas. This gas gets into the mud, becomes entrained in it and must be removed before the pump re-circulates the mud back down hole. A Degasser removes and entrained gas from the mud.

The Shale Shaker has rapidly vibrating screens, the mud in cuttings from the return line fall unto it. The vibrating screens catch the larger cuttings. These cuttings fall into the reserve pit, the sea or other container for disposal.  The liquid mud goes into the Sand Trap which is a special mud tank. Shale Shakers look simple, in fact though manufacturers carefully design them to make the screens vibrate in a very controlled way. Sometimes the crew sends mud through a vacuum Degasser. The Degasser removes gas from the mud. If the gas were not removed it could make the mud too light, not dense enough. As a result the well could kick. Formation fluids could enter the wellbore and have to be controlled to prevent a blowout.

Another problem, if the driller re-circulates gas cut mud the gas could cause the mud pumps to gas lock. Gas Locked Pumps pump gas and mud instead of just mud which is highly inefficient. So, to remove gas crew members use a Degasser.  In a Vacuum Degasser mud with gas in it enters at the top and spills out over several baffle plates, a spreader. Spreading out the mud presents a large surface area for the gas to break out. Also, the vacuum pump creates a vacuum, pressure lower than the surrounding atmosphere inside the Degasser. This vacuum makes it very easy for the gas to escape from the spread out mud. The removed gas leaves through a vent which sends the gas a safe distance away from the Rig. The gas free mud falls to the bottom and goes back into the mud tanks downstream from the Degasser.

A Hydrocyclone System consists of several clones. Mud enters through a side opening at the large end of each cone. It swirls around inside the cone. This centrifugal force or cyclone motion throws the larger particles to the side of the cone. There, the particles move to the bottom of the cone and drop out. Clean mud goes out the outlet at the top.

A De-sander has large cones. It removes particles as small as about 40 microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter, which is very small.  A De-silter has smaller cones than a De-sander. Desilters remove particles down to about 20 microns. A Mud Cleaner has still smaller cones. It removes particles down to about 7 microns. Since Barite, that dissolvable solid which give weight to a mud, is also around 7 microns. Screens are included on mud cleaners to retrieve the Barite so it can be returned to the system.

Inside the cone, mud enters from the side and spirals down. This movement flings the solid to the side. The spiraling action creates a vortex in the center, somewhat like a tornado. It is an area of lower pressure. So the vortex sucks the liquid mud up through the center and out through the top of the cone. Meanwhile the solids slide down the sides and out the bottom of the cone. The smaller the cone, the smaller is the particle it can remove. But more cones are needed to handle a given volume of mud. A Centrifuge spins mud at high speed. This creates centrifugal force.  Centrifugal Force throws the particles to the side of the centrifuge where they are removed.  A Centrifuge removes particles as small as 2 – 5 microns which includes Barite. Sometimes crew members run a Centrifuge at a specific speed to remove barite so the Rig can use that again on the next toll. Occasionally the Rig owner runs two Centrifuges, the first removes the Barite and the second the smaller particles. Crew members then re-add the Barite to the mud system.

Crew members mount Agitators on one or more of the tanks. Agitators stir the mud it the tank to keep solids from settling and to maintain uniformed mud properties.  One popular agitator is the Paddle-Type. An Electric Motor rotates paddles to stir the mud. A Pit Volume Totalizer or PVT alerts the driller to changes in the level of mud in the tanks. A Float in each tank rises or falls if the mud level rises or falls. For example, if the level rises, the rising floats send the signal to a recorder and to a digital panel on the Rig floor. The panel alerts the driller of a rise. This device is called a Pit Volume Totalizer or PVT because it measures the gain or fall in each of the tanks or pits, totals the gain or fall and sends this information to the driller on the Rig floor. If the mud level in the tanks fall the PVT also alerts the driller.

This Float in a mud tank is part of a Pit Volume Totalizer.

Usually crew members install a Float in each active tank. The Floats rise or fall with the mud level in the active tanks.

Mud level in the tanks is vital information. If mud level rises it often means that the well has kicked, formation fluids have entered the hole and forced mud out. The kick fluids replace mud in the hole and cause mud level in the tanks to rise. On the other hand, if mud began going into a formation, if mud is lost to the formation, the mud tank level drops. Lost circulation can also be a serious problem. The decreasing height of mud in the hole could lead to a kick because hydrostatic pressure is reduced. Also drilling without mud returning to the surface is like drilling blind. No communication between the bottom of the hole and the surface exists. The mud system normally has several Centrifugal pumps. A Centrifugal pump puts out relatively low pressure but it can move a large volume of mud. Crew members therefore use them in several ways.

One job a Centrifugal pump often does is super charge the mud intake of the main mud pump. The small pump takes the mud from a suction tank, moves it through a line connected to the main pump Suction line and keeps the Suction line full of mud at all times.  If the system does not use a charging pump the force of gravity alone feeds the pump Suction line. Sometime gravity cannot keep the pumps intake completely full of mud. The pump pistons suck in the mud so fast that gravity cannot keep the Suction line full of mud. The crew also uses a Centrifugal pump to mix some mud components.

A Hopper is like a big funnel. Crew members put sac sievedmud materials into it. They do not however, use the hopper to mix Caustic Soda. The Hopper can blow dry Caustic Soda back into the face of the worker mixing it.  In addition to being dangerous adding Caustic through the hopper can flocculate the mud, cause it to clump up. A crew member opens the sac of material at the top of the hopper and feeds the material into the funnel. At the same time a jet of mud from a Centrifugal pump goes through a nuzzle at the bottom of the funnel. This jet creates suction. The suction holds the material into the mud stream and thoroughly mixes it.

1 comment… add one
  • Hasan Rizvi May 19, 2014, 9:58 am

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