Todd Tannehill cut his teeth selling copiers and ended up in the fluids industry. George Dugan was pulled into the industry by a neighbor. Both have now put years into helping drillers understand their fluids and optimize results — in drilling applications from HDD to water wells to geothermal.

Given their combined decades of experience and expertise, we reached out to two of National Driller’s longtime Drilling Fluids columnists for episode 7 of Drilling In-Site. Host Jeremy Verdusco, editor of National Driller, and co-host Brock Yordy, expert drill trainer and National Driller writer, talk with Dugan and Tannehill about all things fluids.

They discuss changes in the abilities of and expectations of drilling fluids used on the jobsite every day.

“We used to just talk about clays, and how to treat clays with like a synthetic polymer,” Tannehill says. “Now we’re getting down to the degrees of the clay. … Is it sticky? Is it swelling? Tell me about the clay. What’s it doing? … I think the products have become more sophisticated as companies like ours and our competitors put more and more money into research and development.”

We also asked them what advice the mud professionals have for new drillers.

“Soda ash is always the ground floor,” Dugan says. “And, number two, understand that different soils react differently. Understand the soil conditions: what’s going to happen in these various soil conditions and how to control that. Let the fluids control the ground conditions instead of ground conditions controlling your drilling, and you’re way ahead of the game.”

The discussion covers these and many other topics related to making the most of drilling fluids. Watch the edited video here, or listen to the full-length conversation at

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