UBD or ‘‘balanced’’ drilling with conventional drilling fluids is no different than conventional overbalanced drilling as far as basic solids control is concerned. Special pressure-control equipment is required to control well pressures as they occur. A rotating head, choke, and separator are basic to UBD systems (Figure 1).
Shale shakers have undergone many improvements since the Shale Shaker Handbook was written in the early 1970s. The current design, linear motion shakers, was introduced in the 1980s and has become widely used because of its improved solids conveyance and fluid throughput. The various types of motions are discussed in the next sections. Linear motion has made it possible to move solids toward the discharge end of the deck while it is tilted uphill. The uphill tilt of the deck creates a pool of fluid at the feed end of the deck, which, in combination with the linear motion, exerts greater pressure on the fluid flowing through the screen openings. This allows a finer screen than with all previous shaker designs. The acceleration perpendicular to the screen surface controls the liquid throughput. Orbital (circular or unbalanced elliptical) and linear motion shakers can have the same acceleration (or g factor), but the linear motion shaker can process a greater flow rate. The linear motion conveys solids uphill, whereas orbital motion will not. The uphill solids conveyance allows the linear motion or balanced elliptical motion to process a greater flow rate.
The use of linear motion shakers has become feasible with the development of improved screen designs. The life of shaker screens has been extended with the introduction of repairable bonded and pretensioned screen panels. Other design improvements are available in wire cloth, rectangular weaves, nonmetallic screens, and three-dimensional screen surfaces, which have improved the solids-separation capabilities of all shakers.
Although linear motion shale shakers have made a significant impact on solids-removal concepts, the other shale shakers have many advantageous features. Circular motion is easier on the shale shaker structure and shaker screens and conveys gumbo better than does linear motion. Linear motion shakers require bonded screens of which 30–50% of the area is forfeited. The liquid pool at the back of the linear motion screens can cause solids to be ground up into many smaller particles and forced through the shaker screens. This liquid pool also gives solids slightly finer than the screen openings more of a chance to go through the screen.