Drilling Cuttings Separation

Mineralogy of Cuttings

Drill cuttings are particles of crushed rock produced by the grinding action of the drill bit as it penetrates into the earth. Drill cuttings range in size from clay-sized particles (~ 2 μm) to coarse gravel (> 30 mm) and have an angular configuration. Their chemistry and mineralogy reflect that of the sedimentary strata being penetrated by the drill.

Solids control equipment separating cuttings
Figure 1. Separation of WBM and cuttings is mainly based on particle size and relies on shale shakers, hydrocyclones (mud cleaner), and occasionally a decanting centrifuge. Most cuttings are sand/gravel-sized and are easily recovered on the shale shaker. However, silt- and clay-sized cuttings are difficult to separate from the barite and bentonite of WBM; hydrocyclones and centrifuges may be required.

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Dewatering Units And Equipment

The use of “dewatering units,” as a regular part of the drilling fluid treatment process on drilling rigs, continues to increase. A dewatering unit, the final phase of a solids control program, is designed to discard no free liquid. A solids control program in which a dewatering unit is used is referred to as a “closed-loop system” (CLS), “sump-less system,” or “chemically enhanced centrifugation” (CEC).

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Mechanical Separation with Chemical Separation to Treat Waste Water Offshore

Offshore drilling rigs operate in very sensitive environments surrounded by water. Waves can wash seawater onto the rig. Monsoons can completely cover the deck with a thick layer of water within a couple of minutes. Oil spillages can end up on the drill floor because of a mistake or a mechanical failure.

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