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Fields & Applications Sample Preparation, Technology, Data Analysis, Petrochem, Environmental, Materials, Polymers

Sizing up the Solution

Sizing up the Solution

This article explores the role of different components within drilling muds, including barite and calcium carbonate. The need to achieve optimum particle sizes is examined, the application of laser diffraction is considered within this context. Fast, efficient and having a wide measurement range, laser diffraction delivers accurate, precise and reproducible particle size information. Offering automated analysis, it is a preferred method for drilling mud particle sizing and the focus of ongoing API efforts to develop a standard in this area.

Drilling muds and drilling fluids are fundamental to the practice of oil extraction and particle size of the key constituents has a critical impact on how they perform in the field. The American Petroleum Industry (API) is currently working towards a standard for particle sizing in drilling muds that is based on the use of laser diffraction techniques. This article looks at the suitability of modern laser diffraction systems for the measurement of these industrially essential formulations and considers how their application contributes to both the efficacy of the drilling muds and fluids and the success of the drilling process.

Drilling muds are complex aqueous or oil‑based suspensions that are designed to fulfil several important functions within drilling processes, ranging from lubrication and cooling of the drill string through to preventing invasion of rock fragments and liquids into a geological formation. Because of the variations resulting from different rock formations and drilling conditions, drilling muds must be tailored to meet the demands of specific applications. The need to respect what can be a relatively sensitive ecosystem adds to this challenge. In order to meet these challenges, formulators must control the drilling mud performance by manipulating the mud composition and the properties of the constituents. They may also use a range of polymeric and other additives to achieve the required behaviour.

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