A New Device for Field Recovery of Barite From Drilling Mud: I. Theory and Laboratory Results
- R.F. Burdyn (Socony Mobil Oil Co., Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- March 1965
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 6 - 14
- 1965. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 2.2.2 Perforating, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.14.3 Cement Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 4.3.4 Scale, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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The inadequate use of centrifugation to economically recover solids from weighted drilling fluids reflects the need for better equipment and techniques for this purpose. Laboratory studies in the development of an improved separator are described in which an operating equation is derived and tested. Results show that the concentric cylinder geometry employed effectively separates barite from a suspension and that the operating equation provides a good approximation for scale-up.
Our current drilling technology frequently requires a high-density drilling fluid obtained by addition of barite. In the course of drilling, formation solids which are too fine to be removed either by screening or settling become suspended in the drilling fluid and gradually the volume of solids in the mud increases. The volume fraction of solids must be limited (if a satisfactory set of rheological parameters are to be maintained). A centrifugal separator provides an economical way of accomplishing this. The barite recovery process can be considered as a separation of two solids. One, the light solids, composed of formation and added solids, has a specific gravity of 2.6 to 2.7; the other, barite, has a specific gravity of 4.2 to 4.3. This density difference, plus the fact that the average light-solids particle size is much smaller than the average barite particle size, permits separation by a centrifuge. In drilling fluids some of the coarse particles of the light-solids-range will settle faster than fine particles of the barite-particle range. As a result a complete separation of the two species is not possible. Since the object of the process is not merely recovering the maximum amount of barite but includes as well removing the maximum amount of light solids, an optimum barite recovery efficiency exists. From a practical standpoint this optimum cannot be determined in the field for each drilling fluid system, and in practice the separation is less than optimum, with some sacrifice of barite. Drilling technology has included centrifugal separators for barite recovery for more than a decade. Results have been reported by a number of investigators indicating that the process is practical and economical. The decision to use a centrifuge is based on economics in which direct cost savings and the indirect benefits in rig time derived from improvement of the drilling fluid are important factors. One would expect that centrifugal separation of barite from drilling fluids would significantly affect barite consumption; however, this is not the case. The Minerals Yearbook shows an annual domestic barite consumption in the drilling industry of nearly I million tons. By rough estimate there are perhaps 80 separators presently in field use. Assuming half of these in use at any one time, operating an, average of four hours per day, at recovery rates averaging 3,000 lb of barite per hour, total annual recovery is about 90,000 tons. This is less than 10 per cent of the total barite used. I conservatively estimate that barite consumption in drilling operations can be reduced by 30 per cent through greater utilization of centrifugal separators. To encourage more wide- spread acceptance of centrifugal separators in the drilling industry, improved equipment and techniques would be very desirable. The present paper, covering theory and results obtained from a laboratory model, is the first in a series on the development of an improved mud separator for field use.
THE CONCENTRIC CYLINDER GEOMETRY AS A SEPARATING DEVICE
Consider the geometry shown in Fig. 1, consisting of two concentric cylinders separated by an annular space. These are arranged so that the outer cylinder is fixed and the inner one can be rotated about its axis on shafts sealed against the ends of the outer cylinder.
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