I recently watched a video of the death-defying tightrope walker, Nik Wallenda, as he trekked untethered across a 1,500-foot-wide section of the Grand Canyon. The precision that must go into each individual footstep along that 1,500-foot wire is difficult to comprehend. To become cavalier about foot placement at any point in his journey would have cost him dearly. Eventually, Wallenda made it across the gorge to the safety of the rocky desert. After watching the clip, I sat back in my chair, dried my unusually sweaty palms, and breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Many parallels can be drawn from Wallenda’s triumph that apply to other aspects of our lives but rarely do these have the same dire consequences as a tightrope over the Grand Canyon. Still, I realize how a small mistake, if gone unchecked, can start a chain reaction that leads to much larger issues. It is especially true in the solids control and filtration space where controlling (or not controlling) solids can have lasting negative implications. Barite recovery is often celebrated for its ability to maintain fluid quality at a high level without the added cost of consuming large quantities of barite. Done poorly, however, barite recovery can accelerate drill solids degradation in drilling fluids and cause a large spike in colloidal solids. It impacts equivalent circulating densities (ECDs), dilution rates, tool life and wellbore stability. I suggest that every barite recovery job utilize the 3 P’s of barite recovery to ensure a successful barite recovery project: Project Planning, Precise Equipment Placement and Programmed Testing.
Before a successful barite recovery project can be executed, there must be a knowledge share between the customer and solids control (SC) provider. It is critical for the SC service provider to understand the well design, fluid properties and KPI’s throughout the well, potential thief and kick zones and volumes. There may be some zones where barite recovery is not an economical practice or even parts of the well where the equipment should not be utilized. With this data, an equipment package can be designed and prepared as well as an agreement in expectations by all parties. With proper project planning and communication between customer and service provider, a plan can be made and distributed to the operations team for execution.
Precise Equipment Placement
Once the plan is ready to be executed, equipment must be placed exactly to plan. Why would I consider equipment placement a key factor in successful barite recovery? Typically, when equipment is placed for the first time on a drilling rig, it is difficult or impossible to move throughout the duration of the project. Barite recovery uses several suction and discharge points that are each interconnected. Having an issue inside any one of these processes can restrict the efficiencies of the barite recovery process. Our goal is to let our technicians focus on maximizing equipment efficiency rather than continuously trying to overcome a poor rig up. We’ve found that to-scale CAD drawings of our equipment set up significantly improves our rig up efficiencies and minimizes mistakes.
Programmed Liquid and Solid Testing
Testing is critical to the success of barite recovery. A program of sample gathering that closely monitors liquids and solids to and from the centrifuge is crucial to understanding how to maximize the efficiency of barite recovery. Your project preparation should indicate what samples should be gathered along with when and how they should be tested. Will you use retort solids analysis? Does this sample require Particle Size Distribution to get a complete picture? What decisions will be made based on the results of the samples tested? Without a program to gather and interpret data from the barite recovery system, you increase the probability of slipping off the tightrope and causing irreparable harm to your fluids system that can cost valuable time and money.
Walking the tightrope of barite recovery can be daunting. Done successfully it will provide value to your operations, but when done incorrectly barite recovery will quickly sour a mud system and lead to costly well problems. Is barite recovery an effective solution for your wells? Contact Stage 3 Separation. To learn more about solids control services, check out our solids control platform page.