Deeper underground

Jon Lawson

6,000ft borehole drilled with support of compact solids control system

An innovative solids control system has been implemented at the Catoosa Test Facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

The facility is the largest privately owned and operated downhole testing facility in the USA, with clients including NOV, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Scientific Drilling, Enventure, Weatherford, Baker Hughes, GE and more.

Over a two-week period, multiple downhole tools and technologies were tested to drill the borehole, which was the deepest the facility had ever drilled.

The MudCube system from Cubility, which has been used in both water-based and oil-based mud tests at Catoosa, is believed to be the industry’s first compact solids control system that eliminates the traditional process of shaking fluid and solids. This is achieved via a compact, vacuum-based filtration system that removes solids from drilling fluids through a rotating filter belt that uses high airflow to separate the cuttings from fluids.

The improved separation capabilities of the MudCube leads to better quality mud, fewer chemicals required to maintain its properties, more mud recycled back to the mud tanks to be reused for drilling, and less waste that is also ‘cleaner’.

The remote, automated operations of the MudCube and its enclosed system also reduce vibration and bring considerable workplace and HSE benefits.

Duane Buckmaster, partner of Catoosa Test Facility states: “Since the MudCubes went into operation on our new triple testing rig in mid-2016 – meeting very tight installation timescales – they have surpassed expectations.”

He continues: “Their reliability, ability to quickly change screen requirements and reduce downtime; and provide substantial savings in facility waste costs and dryer cuttings – compared to our original test rig using conventional shakers – has impressed all our clients. It has also enabled us to drill such a deep well without increased solid control issues.”

Brandon Buzarde at Cubility comments: “Just as Catoosa is a technology innovator in the field of drilling operations, so the MudCube is redefining the management of fluids and waste in drilling today. We are delighted to be working with the leading testing facility in the USA and enabling their clients to see at first hand the better mud quality, improved efficiencies, and reduced and cleaner waste the MudCubes provide.”

Diverse drilling testing

The Catoosa Test Facility currently has 15 cased test wells with casing sizes up to 20in wide and 2,000ft deep and is capable of performing almost any type of drilling technology and evaluation downhole test. Many new drilling technologies are tested at the site and on-site equipment includes drilling rigs, wireline units and a drilling fluids laboratory as well as on-site technical management and coordination.

To date, MudCubes have been installed on North Sea, Middle East, Far East, South American and North American drilling sites offshore and onshore. In 2016, Cubility partnered with EQT Corporation, a US-based company that has become one of the fastest growing natural gas producers in the Marcellus Shale.

The Mudcube is particularly applicable onshore, where the rise in drilling costs and declining oil price has increased operator needs to monitor the bottom line as well as meet stringent environmental controls. Initial cost analysis based on various land operations from a fluid cost and disposal standpoint show the solution reducing overall operating expenses by as much as 15% per well.

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