To Find Oil, You Have to Drill
Part 10

Date: 11/26/2011

Drilling Fluid Mechanics—Collaboration and Interaction

Drilling fluids, or “muds,” are carefully designed and selected to perform a variety of critical roles in the drilling process. They maintain the necessary hydrostatic to prevent unwanted formation fluids from entering into the wellbore, and their viscous properties are needed to transport cuttings from the bottom of the hole to surface. The chemical properties of the drilling fluid are engineered to inhibit damage to the wellbore surface, and the hydraulic properties are essential to cooling and cleaning the bit as it drills through rock. 

Understanding drilling performance

M-I SWACO, Smith Bits, and the Schlumberger Research Centers are studying the complex interactions between the bit, drilling fluid, formation, and drilling parameters. Their combined expertise will improve understanding of the mechanisms that influence drilling performance, such as bit balling, an unwanted condition where a sticky mass of consolidated formation cuttings becomes adhered to the bit, which limits its ability to cut through rock and results in reduced penetration.

The impact of drilling fluids

Drilling fluids are also designed to minimize any potential impact on the environment. M-I SWACO scientists study growth patterns of vegetation in soils exposed to drilling fluids as well as the effects of such fluids on freshwater and marine environments.

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