While on a recent drilling project, I was unfortunate enough to pick up a virus that made me sick enough that I ended up in the hospital. Fortunately, between the doctors, lab technicians and radiologists, they were able to find out exactly what it was that made me sick. These experts had the information that they needed, so that they could use the proper medications to kill it off and get me on the road to a full recovery. In the drilling industry, we work in much the same way.
While providing technical assistance on a recent drilling project, I was unfortunate enough to pick up a virus that made me sick enough that I ended up in the hospital. Fortunately, between the doctors, lab technicians and radiologists, they were able to find out exactly what it was that made me sick. These experts had the information that they needed, so that they could use the proper medications to kill it off and get me on the road to a full recovery.
In the drilling industry, we work in much the same way. We want to use the proper products and drilling techniques for the formation in which we are going to be drilling. Information on formations and soils is more readily available today than it has ever been. Most states have websites where you can look up well information in the area you are going to be drilling and see past well logs. Granted, there can still be some vast differences in formations even with wells in close proximity to one another.
Also, not every driller classifies soils exactly the same when they record them. On larger projects, many times there may be test wells put in, soil coring as shown in the image or other exploration that is done to give you relevant information on the formation.
By having this information available to us, it can save us both time and money in being able to mobilize to the site with the proper drilling products for the conditions we are prepared to encounter. You wouldn’t want to show up to a project drilling with a PHPA polymer when the soil conditions are a loose sand and gravel. PHPA polymers work well in clay formations, but have no filtration control and no gel strength. You would need a bentonite drilling fluid and PAC polymer that give you great gel strength and fluid loss control for that situation.
All of the main bentonite companies have worked hard to develop products that will help in most formations that you will encounter. If you have become comfortable using one or two products on all of your drilling projects, you may want to look at what else is out there that can help you be more efficient for your project.
For some examples, in clays there are products available to reduce torque, wetting agents for lubricating the drilling bit and rod, PHPA polymers to encapsulate the clay particles and PAC polymers that will encapsulate and create a tighter filter cake on the borehole wall to stop fluid from hydrating the clay, as well as products that are designed to break down the sticky clays and create a slurry that can easily be pumped. In sand and gravel conditions, there are PAC polymers for fluid loss control in regular and low-viscosity blends. There are also products that can increase gel strength to help suspend and transport cuttings out of the borehole. Upon completion of your hole, there are many choices for grouting and sealing the well.
There are one- and two-step grouts in 20 percent solids, and one-step 30 percent solids grouts, as well as grouts that can be increased up to 72 percent solids content with the addition of sand. There are also chips and tablets used for sealing as well.
If you have specific questions about what product is recommended for a specific problem or formation that you encounter when drilling, please be sure to contact your bentonite drilling products representative, as we are all just a phone call or email away. There may be a product out there that you haven’t tried yet that can help you be more efficient and successful on your next project.