At Drilcorp we are always striving to keep up-to-date with new techniques, methods and equipment, so that we can continuously improve the services we provide to our clients.

The benefits of Mud treatment systems

As part of this drive, Scott Burt, Contract Manager for our Geotechnical Exploration Services (GES) division, recently investigated a new mud treatment system and found that it provided a multitude of benefits for both GES and our client. 

Scott says: “Having worked in the drilling industry for around 15 years, I have seen many changes in technology and practice, as more modern techniques and methods have been introduced. I started to look at whether we could improve our mud treatment; as I am sure others in the industry will agree, dealing with wastewater from drilling applications always causes a problem. This is particularly true when working in areas where space is an issue, and where timing and programming of waste removal is impossible. 

“I came across a new mud treatment system, which I thought would be perfect for a project in London for geothermal closed loops. So, we decided to undertake a field trial and this generated impressive results.” 

This system comes in a range of sizes to suit every application, from small mobile units (as pictured) to large projects with pump rates of up to 1000 litres per minute.

The systems that AMC Europe design treat the drilling fluids and slurry through a process of a Shale Shaker and centrifuge, before producing a clean drilling fluid for re-use. This is very effective for a closed loop system and negates the need for large surface pits and volumes needed for a total circulation whilst drilling. Reductions in water consumption and in drilling fluids have been seen, thus reducing costs. 

Scott explains: “The compact system we used can fit on a road towable trailer and can come with its own power source. The system can also be as big as an artic truck, depending on application. It had a fluid capacity of 3m3 which meant it was great for open hole drilling of up to 200.00mtrs with an 8 inch diameter, and also for Geobore S. 

“Solid removal is always a challenge and conventional shaker systems are limited. They can only remove the larger particles down to sands; 20 Microns is the average. The AMC SRU (Solids Recycling System) can remove particles down to a Micron size of 4-6, and complete removal is achievable with flocculation. With conventional systems there is always the risk of pumping a solid that is still present in the surrounding fluid. This can have negative effects on the borehole stability and increase the wear and tear on mechanical parts, including pumps and seals.

“Keeping weight (SG) under control is a major part of the process whilst installing loops. Being able to remove weight quickly and easily is something that we were keen to have at our fingertips. The unit can process up to 6m3 per hour – something that gravity settling tanks would take days to achieve.”

Scott also noted that the mud treatment system was easily manoeuvrable into tight spaces and, once set up and filled with fluid, it proved extremely efficient and straightforward to operate. The shaker system placed the larger drill cuttings directly into a skip while the centrifuge was set to remove fines down to 5 Microns. The combined cuttings were dry enough to allow disposal straight into a normal soils skip. 

He concludes: “I will continue to work closely with the provider of this great system to develop it further, as I feel this is the future of drilling. Our first trial was a success, saving our client costs on water and waste disposal as well as a considerable amount of down time for cleaning and refilling of tanks. 

“The new system also allowed GES a lot more room on site to operate. Without question, this system will extend the lifespan of drilling pumps, water swivels and drill bits – costs that we all find hard to recover in this highly competitive market.”

The centrifuge removes the fines from the drilling fluid