Product Life Cycle Manager
Brock Yordy grew up working in his father’s West Michigan water well drilling company. He graduated from Western Michigan University, where he studied environmental science and ground water science. Brock started his professional career as a Drilling Fluids Engineer for Baroid IDP, a Halliburton company. Since then he has worked in all forms of drilling including; water well, geothermal, geotechnical, tunnelling, construction, HDD, wireline coring, and large diameter shaft drilling. In 2008, Brock created a drilling fluids management plan for a 20ft diameter reverse circulation project. The project was the first of its kind in the United States. Next, he created the drilling fluids and solids control plan for the first 1800 holes of Ball State University Geothermal project. In 2010, Brock developed a training program for the United States Military for water well drilling in the Middle East and Africa In 2011; Brock went on to work as Project Manager on a new solids control technology for Baroid IDP. He implemented the system in mining projects all over the world which has given him extensive international drilling experience. Brock currently works for GEFCO as a Product Life Cycle Manager. He helps guide teams on development and R&D of all GEFCO Products. Throughout his career, Brock has been fortunate enough to work on drilling and fluid management programs with BHP, Kinross, Frontier-Kemper, Barrick, and the United States Military. He is currently working with the Red Horse Air Force drilling program in Iraq. You can read Brock’s columns about solids control, drilling, and safety in the National Driller drilling magazine.
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The Science of Separating Solids
Drilling fluids management is a term interpreted differently depending on the drilling project and local regulations. The proper interpretation of drilling fluids management is the life cycle of drilling fluids from creation to disposal. The goal of a good drilling fluid management plan should be to set a fluid volume limit that adequately supports the total circulating volume of the drill from start to total depth. At the end of the project, fluid volume will need to be reused or disposed.
Drilling fluids become contaminated with the incorporation of solids. An environmental regulator can pull material data safety sheets and understand 100 percent of neat drilling fluid contents. Drilling fluids get classified as hazardous because drill solids contain an unknown factor of possible have heavy metals, chemical contaminants and other unknown variables that are now mixed into one fluid. If we consider controlling drill solids incorporation in the beginning, when the bit’s cutting action first creates the solids, the task of managing the drilling fluid becomes much easier. The process starts with the bit rotating and making a cutting action that creates a solid that is the size of a quarter. The goal is to create the largest cutting possible that can move uphole. At the same time, the mud pump pushes the drilling fluid through the bit face and carries the solid to surface. Finally, the solid is adequately removed intact by a method of solids control. The problem starts when the bit produces a 1-inch sized cutting that slowly tumbles uphole breaking apart into numerous smaller cuttings. Proper uphole velocity is required to carry the cutting intact to the surface. A drill solid should move uphole at 60 to 100 feet per minute. In order to achieve 1-inch solids traveling at 60 feet per minute, a drilling fluid’s uphole velocity must be greater than 100 feet per minute. The goal is to keep the solids intact from the bit face to removal of the solids from the mud. When drill solids deteriorate, they create several issues. First, the solids break apart into more surface areas that require the drilling fluid to coat and lift. Second, the density and viscosity of the drilling fluid increase. This increase causes the pumps to work harder to remove solids from the bit face, thus creating more solids downhole. This causes the breakdown of the drilling fluid’s properties and functions. It would be way too convenient if all drill cuttings stayed at that magic 1-inch size and were quickly removed at the surface. However, that is never the case; a good drilling fluids management plan must have a proper solids removal method.
Solids control is any method that removes drill solids at the surface before the solids can be recirculated downhole. Physical solids control, like my Uncle Karl with a shovel, can be an effective way to remove solids from a mud pan. An earthen pit or passive solids control requires the fluid to flow in a way that will facilitate the settling of solids. Both physical and passive solids control can work efficiently for large solids as long as enough time is allowed to remove those solids. Once the large drill solids are recirculated through the mud pump and pumped downhole, it is nearly impossible to remove those solids a second time without mechanical solids control. Passive and physical solids controls are only satisfied with a controlled rate of penetration that allows time for the cutting to settle or be removed. Mechanical solids control is the most efficient way to remove drill solids, maintain a clean job site, and reduce the amount of overall fluid for disposal. Regardless of the method of solids control the goal is to maintain a low solids drilling fluid of 8.8 pounds per gallon and a sand content of .5 percent.