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The Cost Savings of Automation

Drilling fluids are critical to maintaining well safety and quality during construction and completion. That makes drilling fluid properties key control parameters of the drilling and completion process. Moreover, increased efficiency of new drilling technology, and demand for data driven by digital advances in remote monitoring and analytics require frequent and reliable measurement of the physical and chemical properties of drilling fluids. Typically, these properties have been measured by manual field sampling and testing. But manual testing lags advances in drilling efficiency, causes delays, and is susceptible to bias, inconsistencies, and inadvertent human errors.

Mud properties must be monitored and adapted as drilling progresses to total depth. These properties are not only critical to the safety and efficiency of the operation, they also provide valuable information throughout the drilling process. With this information, problems can be anticipated, and changes can be made. With better and more frequent measurements of mud properties comes improved safety and reduced nonproductive time (NPT), cost, and time to total depth.

Automatic mud sampling and testing minimizes the need for human intervention, allowing for higher productivity and better utilization of resources. Instead of having a person on the rig gathering samples and carrying them back for analysis, the equipment can do it several time each hour. Automation reduces risk to humans on the rig while helping the crew focus on high value tasks.

More frequent sampling and testing means rig personnel see changing trends faster and can react quicker than with manual methods. Due to the amazing efficiency of rigs today, a bit could travel several hundred feet before manual sampling even shows a problem. With frequent, automatic sampling, problems are discovered and corrected right away, significantly reducing nonproductive time.

OFITE has been on the forefront of the automation revolution. In the last several months we have field tested three new instruments that take automation to the next level:

  • Mud Watcher – The Mud Watcher is the workhorse of the group. Its main strength is the ability to sample drilling mud consistently over extended periods of time while providing continuous measurement of density and viscosity.
  • Mud Aid™ – The Mud Aid™ samples mud from the reservoir in the Mud Watcher. It utilizes an industry standard "bob and rotor" configuration to measure viscosity at varying shear rates. It provides rheology, gel strength, and analysis (PV/YP) based on user preference. For certain muds, it can be outfitted with up to six ion selective electrodes to measure chlorides, calcium, pH, etc.
  • OLR Series 1000 OnLine Rheometer – The OLR provides a direct rheology measurement. It continuously measures, plots, and reports the full rheological profile of drilling, completion, and fracturing fluids and many other process applications.
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