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Drilling Fluid Management During Horizontal Directional Drilling

Drilling Fluid Management

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is a trenchless construction solution to traditional open-cut methods used for utility conduit installation. Over the past four decades, advancements in HDD have made it an effective and common installation method, particularly in congested urban areas and environmentally sensitive areas, such as beneath rivers and wetlands, as it minimally impacts surroundings. The HDD process includes pilot boring, reaming, and product pullback.

Drilling fluid is used in all the three stages of HDD, functioning to: provide stability to the borehole, especially in collapsible soil and porous medium; decrease the frictional drag between the pipe and the borehole; cool the drill bit during excavation, and transport drill cuttings to the ground surface. Drilling fluid generally comprises an admixture of water and bentonite, and different types of additive can also be used to improve the fluid’s capacity to carry the cutting soils out of the borehole. Figure 1 shows the first stage of HDD in which the borehole is excavated with a mechanical cutting structure and the cutting soils are transported to the ground surface by means of hydraulic transmission (circulation of drilling fluid).

The drilling fluid pressure in the borehole must be high enough to provide borehole stability and adequate circulating pressure for cutting transport out of the borehole. However, excessively high drilling fluid pressure can also cause hydraulic fracture and release of drilling fluid to the ground surface, which is a critical issue encountered during HDD. This phenomenon occurs when drilling fluid pressure exceeds the shear strength of the surrounding soil, which causes cracks to propagate to the ground surface. Penetration of the drilling fluid into the cracks leads to operational (loss of drilling fluid, collapse of the borehole, bit balling, and circulating pressure loss) and negative environmental impacts. Figure 2 illustrates the growth of the crack around the borehole during pilot boring. Hydraulic fracture is the greatest concern in the first stage of the boring process, as it has lower annulus areas compared to the reaming stage. Therefore, higher interaction between drilling fluid particles in lower annulus areas causes an increase in annular pressure.

DRILLING FLUID MANAGEMENT
Drilling fluid management is a technique employed during HDD to maintain a proper drilling fluid pressure, which prevents mud loss failure and provides stability through the borehole. HDD contractors and engineers should consider applying a drilling fluid management system to achieve a targeted drilling fluid rheology and to predict the mechanical behavior of drilling fluid as it interacts with soil in the borehole. Effective drilling fluid management provides the necessary information to monitor and control risk events resulting from elevated annular pressures during HDD construction. To accomplish this, the circulating drilling fluid pressure (plan pressure) must be predicted, which can be done via the appropriate flow model and associated parameters.

Horizontal Directional Drilling Solids Control System

Relative to the use of drilling fluids within the oil and gas industry, the use of drilling fluids within the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) industry is new. Even today, the amount of research and development aimed at HDD drilling fluids is considered a rounding error in the oligopoly of drilling fluid manufacturers. However, the trends strongly suggest that the future of HDD drilling will follow a similar evolution as experienced by the traditional oil and gas industry.

Solids control system

Couple the evolution of drilling fluids with the escalating cost of waste management and disposal, the economic practicality of utilizing drilling fluids, is fully dependent on the ability to recover and recycle. Though the cost of barite and bentonite continue to be commoditized, additives continue to become more and more expensive. Add the escalating cost of qualified personnel, HDD rig operators are left with a critical challenge: making profits, when the cost of business is increasing.

A typical HDD solids control system will employ a combination of shaker, hydrocyclone, mixing, pump and compartmentalized tank technologies. The shaker is vital to the solids control system and is considered the first line of defense. Located directly downstream from the shaker will likely be a hydrocyclone assembly that will employ desilters, desanders or both. Though still considered rare, centrifuge-enable solids control systems are becoming more popular. By adding a centrifuge, the solids control system will achieve the highest level of cut available within the market today.

 

The History Of Horizontal Directional Drilling

Martin Cherrington first conceived horizontal directional drilling in the 1960’s. He first realized the value of underground drilling when he and another contractor were given the same job: lay down telephone lines in Los Angeles. The only difference was that Cherrington was using an open trench method while the other contractor was using drilling to lay down cables. That contractor arrived two weeks after Cherrington yet managed to finish two weeks before him. This led Cherrington to believe there was merit in looking at underground drilling methods.

In 1964 Cherrington founded Titan Contractors, which specialized in utility road boring. It was an opportune time for the company’s formation because of a building boom in Sacramento and a recent “beautification” decree from the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. The decree was instated to clean up America by getting rid of utility lines which were an eyesore and hazardous during seismic and extreme weather events. As a solution, Sacramento proposed placing all utilities underground. Despite a favorable environment and HDD’s merits, however, other, more familiar, tunneling technologies like jack and bore and auger boring were usually preferred.

One of the main problems was the lack of control when drilling. It was often very difficult to make a straight bore, and the drill bit would resurface in unexpected places (like the middle of the road). Cherrington realized a solution when an engineer from P G& E invited him to consider a project for placing a gas line underneath the Pajaro River. The project would require drilling underneath the river, and the variability of the drill bit’s direction would make it challenging. To find a solution, Cherrington experimented with angled bores on a similar river, trying several different angles. He observed that the steeper the angle of the bore, the greater the achieved distance. This relationship between angle and distance helped prove that with “optimum entry angle, proper drilling techniques and the right downhole tool assembly” (Cherrington) HDD could be used to cross a river. Since then, familiarity with HDD has increased, and it has become a much more routine method for projects requiring a non-evasive boring solution.

 

Horizontal Directional Drilling Process

The tools and techniques used in the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) process are an outgrowth of the oil well drilling industry. The components of a horizontal drilling rig used for pipeline construction are similar to those of an oil well drilling rig with the major exception being that a horizontal drilling rig is equipped with an inclined ramp as opposed to a vertical mast. HDD pilot hole operations are not unlike those involved in drilling a directional oil well. Drill pipe and downhole tools are generally interchangeable and drilling fluid is used throughout the operation to transport drilled spoil, reduce friction, stabilize the hole, etc. Because of these similarities, the process is generally referred to as drilling as opposed to boring.

Installation of a pipeline by HDD is generally accomplished in three stages as illustrated in Figure 1. The first stage consists of directionally drilling a small diameter pilot hole along a designed directional path. The second stage involves enlarging this pilot hole to a diameter suitable for installation of the pipeline. The third stage consists of pulling the pipeline back into the enlarged hole.

HDD Process

HDD Process

Drilling Mud Recycling Systems

With the development of well drilling technology, Drilling Mud Recycling System plays an important role in Horizontal Directional Drilling or Oilfield applications, various kinds of mud recycling systems emerged at the right moment, no matter how to change the type of recycling system, the basic function will not changed. It is depend on organic combination of mechanical removal equipment, drilling fluid storage tanks and other auxiliary equipments to accomplish the basic function.

Mud Recycling System Mud Recycling SystemMud Recycling System

Mud Recycling SystemMud Recycling System

Mud Recycling System

Mud Recycling Systems/Solids control are key to any successful drilling or boring project.

Trenchless Excavation Method-Horizontal Directional Drilling

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is a trenchless excavation method originated in the late 1960’s by merging technologies prominent in the water wells and utilities industry. HDD involves drilling along a desired pathway while simultaneously inserting a pipe into the new borehole.Horizontal Directional Drilling

The HDD process is completed in three parts, the first being the drilling of a pilot hole along the proposed centreline and the second being the enlarging of the hole with a reamer. The last step would be have the new pipe installed behind the reamer during the last pass of the reaming process.

HDD Scope of application
1 Horizontal directional drilling apply to pipeline and cable, fiber optic cable and other steel casing through lakes, swamps, rivers, highway, railway, building and other unfavorable for excavation of construction.
2 Traversing segment of stratum is not pebble soil.
3 The point of traversing has the area for installing drill rig and pipeline, underground without other unknown obstacle.

Solids control system for Horizontal Directional Drilling

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is a trenchless excavation method originated in the late 1960’s by merging technologies prominent in the water wells and utilities industry. HDD involves drilling along a desired pathway while simultaneously inserting a pipe into the new borehole.

The HDD process is completed in three parts, the first being the drilling of a pilot hole along the proposed centreline and the second being the enlarging of the hole with a reamer. The last step would be have the new pipe installed behind the reamer during the last pass of the reaming process.

In any HDD works, a major component of the drilling activities is the drilling fluid. The use of drilling fluid helps to prevent the potential collapse of the bore path, assists in the removal of cutting material produced by the drilling process, and reduces friction during the pullback of the new pipe process.

In general, we use solids control equipments to process drilling fluid, and reuse drilling fluid for reducing the cost of drilling.

At present, the solids control system is including the drilling pumps, pipelines, mud tanks, drilling fluid trough, shale shaker, desander, desilter, centrifuge, degasser, mud mixer, etc.

Solids control system is according to the principle of screening and centrifuge to process drilling fluid with different density and particle size. According to the need to trade-off, and get the drilling fluid with the best performance. The advantages of this method are good effect, low cost, thus it has already used widely.

 

Solids control equipment for Horizontal Directional Drilling

The Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) process requires the use of a drill rig, drilling head, drilling fluid, a reamer, drill rods and a range of ancillary equipment, including pulling heads, swivel connectors, and a pipe roller. Although implementation of HDD does not require an entry chamber, an exit chamber is often excavated to contain drill slurry for collection prior to recycling or removal.

From the drill rig, the drilling head navigates through the ground along the desired bore path and past any obstructions. The resultant spoil is removed during the drilling process with a slurry (or drilling fluid) comprised of Bentonite and sometimes a composition of water and polymer. This slurry is also used in the drilling process to stabilise and lubricate the borehole as well as acting as a cooling agent for the drill head and embedded location transmitter.

In any HDD works, a major component of the drilling activities is the drilling fluid. In many instances and also in situations when the new pipe diameter is much larger than the pilot hole, it is vitally important that the correct amount and mixtures of drilling fluid is resourced.

In general, we use solids control equipment to process drilling fluid. Drilling fluid solids control system mainly includes three parts: drilling fluid circulating tank, drilling mud cleaning equipment, electronic control device.

Drilling fluid circulating tank is composed of several chambers, can be equipped with shale shaker, desander, degasser, desilter, centrifuge, sand pump, mud agitator, etc. and also matched with all kinds of pipeline, valve, and other assist device.

Centrifugal Pump Manufacturer-DC Machinery

DC Machinery is a China Centrifugal pump top manufacturer,we supply centrifugal pump mainly used for Oil gas drilling mud solids control system, HDD(Horizontal directional Drilling) mud recycling system. Our centrifugal pump can be used as desander desilter feeding pump,mixing pump,supercharging pump,trip pump.

  • Special mechanical seal technology
  • The parts such as flow-passing impeller and case are made of high-wearable cast irons, with service life longer than other products by 50%.
  • The shaft has higher strength that can bear certain load, reduce shaft’s deflection and extend seal’s service life.
  • The bearing is lubricated with lubricants and lubricating grease, The oil seal is made of special structure and materials, suitable for high and low temperatures and complicated environment.
  • Front opening structure is used for convenient installation, repair and maintenance.
  • A case thicker than a normal one is adopted to make rational pass and less turbulence.
  • The impeller is specially designed to have a wider flow pass and smooth vanes, with larger flow area and smooth fluid pass, marking the pump reach the internationally advance level in pump efficiency and energy-saving, 10% higher than similar products.

DC Solid control offers a complete line of centrifugal pumps to accommodate a full variety of drilling applications. Sizes range from 2 × 3 to 6 × 8. Bare pumps, horizontal packages, and overhead belt drive configurations are available. Explosion proof electric motors are available up to 200 HP, in 1200, 1800 or 3600 RPM.

Horizontal directional drilling application, principle and characteristic

HDD Scope of application

Horizontal directional drilling apply to pipeline and cable, fiber optic cable and other steel casing through lakes, swamps, rivers, highway, railway, building and other unfavorable for excavation of construction.

Traversing segment of stratum is not pebble soil.

The point of traversing has the area for installing drill rig and pipeline, underground without other unknown obstacle.

HDD principle

Horizontal directional drilling crossing in to the side of the obstacles along the orbit drill a guide hole, drill bit enters into the design traversing point from the obstacle side, and come up from the other side of the obstacles, remove bit and change reamer and connect to the steel pipe, drill rig use pipe to make the pipeline laying in the obstacles or steel casing along the guide hole back to drag to drill side of the unearthed on the ground.

Drill rig use drill pipe to push forward drill bit along design curve, drilling mud will be delivered to drill bit by drill pipe inside, and jet from water nozzle to wash clay. Reduce bit rotation and promote resistance, and at the same time, cooling and lubricating bit, bonding fixed hole wall. Bit drilling position and drilling direction are controlled by the control system and mud proportion.

Horizontal directional drilling construction characteristic

Construction quality is good. Use directional drilling to cross laying pipeline, the buried depth can satisfy the design requirement, to avoid the conventional excavation hidden trouble through lack of buried depth.

Construction period is short, construction area is less, to avoid the damage of environmental, can furthest reduce the influence of industrial and agricultural production.

Social benefit is well. To avoid the damage of already built infrastructure, ensure the shipping, highway, railway and other transportation tool normal, do not affect people’s normal life.

Save construction investment. Save labour and earthwork cost.

DC Machinery is a professional manufacturer of solids control equipment for HDD, any questions or interest please contact us freely.

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