The fates of drill cuttings from offshore wells, and their effect on the marine environment, have been studied by means of side-scan sonar, scuba and underwater photography. Adverse effects are minimal and short-lived, and in some instances the accumulation of cuttings may be beneficial. Modification of normal mud and cuttings discharge procedures would be needed only in very unusual circumstances.
Oil-based drilling fluids have long been recognized as a sound technical answer to problems encountered in deep-hot holes and, more recently, to stabilize boreholes with thick intervals of reactive clay formations. However, oil-based mud product development was slowing down until the introduction of low toxicity base oils in the late seventies created a need for new investigations. This innovation sparked a resurgence of oil mud research and development which has resulted in oil-based mud (OBM) systems being used routinely in many active drilling areas worldwide.
The rotating separator process is based on a different principle than the shale shaker process. The mud line flow is fed into the slowly rotating separator. The drilling fluid contaminated with drilled cuttings is fed into the centre of a screen coated drum as shown schematically in Fig. 1. The outside of the drum is connected to an under-pressurised ventilation system.
As a result of differences in the design of shale shakers and front hoods/enclosures, it was difficult to test all shakers within the exact same parameters. It was determined that each shaker had to be tested as dictated by the differences in design of each unit (Fig. 10).