Cost of Removing Drilled Solids

Few wells can be drilled without removing drilled solids. However, even for 3000- to 4000-ft wells, one problem created by drilled solids, such as lost circulation, stuck pipe, or a well-control problem, will more than nullify the modest savings resulting from the decision not to properly process the drilling fluid. In expensive operations, the proper use of solids-removal equipment will significantly reduce drilling costs.

Although drilled solids can be maintained by simply diluting the drilling fluid to control the acceptable level or concentration of drilled solids, the expense and impracticality of this approach are evident using the following example. A H'/i-inch-diameter hole 1000 feet deep will contain about 144 barrels of solids. If these solids are to be reduced to a 6% volume target concentration, they must be blended into a 2i00-barrel slurry. To create the 2400 barrels, the 144 barrels of drilled solids must be added to 2256 barrels of clean drilling fluid:

Not only would the cost of the clean drilling fluid be prohibitive, but most drilling rigs do not have the surface volume to build 2256 barrels of clean drilling fluid for every 1000 feet of hole drilled. (See Chapter 15 for a complete discussion of dilution calculations.)

Remove as many drilled solids as possible with the shale shaker. Shakers are a very important component of this process, but they are still only one component of a complete drilled-solids removal system. All of the system must be operated with careful attention to details to develop the most efficient drilled-solids removal. Complete processing will decrease the cost of building excess drilling fluid. Proper drilled-solids control is directed primarily at reducing the cost of drilling.

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