The Basics of Mud Engineering


On 28th of February 2016, we are proud to have Mr Ahmed Alaa Eldin, a drilling fluid engineer from OES Oilfield Services Group who present himself to SPE-UTM Student Chapter to give a talk entitled “The Basics of Mud Engineering”.

In his presentation, he pointed out the function of the mud engineer and also the important role of the mud engineers. He also showed us the main functions of the mud, different type of muds and its component. He also covered about the mud system’s facilities and also some parameters. About to finish his presentation, he gave us some advice to our members and encourage us to be positive to oil and gas industry. It is our honor to have Mr Ahmed Alaa Eldin that day to teach us some knowledge and his experience sharing. His presentation will be summarized as below.


Introduction about the speaker

Mr Ahmed Alaa Eldin is a graduate from Alexandria University. He did his master degree in Geoscience in 2014, Bachelor degree in Geology and Chemistry and also his Advanced Diploma in geophysics in 2012. His path of learning never ends. During this year, he has his DBM (Diploma in Business Management) in Amity University India. He is a Sales Engineer, an aquamaint for water technology in Egypt. He is also a drilling fluids engineer working in the Aramco Field in OES Group.


Introduction to Mud Engineering

Mud Engineering is a part of extraction from upstream operations. Mud engineering does not focus on mud only, but it involves in drilling problems too. Mud engineers are responsible to prepare mud that is suitable to solve the drilling problem and to suit the reservoir’s condition. Mud Engineer also responsible for mud logging. He/she has to provide a continuous record of penetration rate, lithology and indicate any hydrocarbon show.


The importance of Drilling Fluids

Why we use drilling fluids during the drilling process?

  1. Subsurface pressure control
    Formation zone consists of overburden pressure, mud have a weight, it can keep the subsurface pressure under control
  2. Cutting removal and transport
    When we drilled, we have the solid cuttings, and mud is responsible to remove the cuttings from the borehole and bring it up to the surface
  3. Suspension of solid particles
    When the drilling fluid is static (not moving), mud plays an important role to suspend the solid particle from falling down.
  4. Cooling and lubricating the drill bit and drill string (friction and geothermal gradient)
    We learn about geothermal gradient, as we drill deeper, temperature will increase, mud will be responsible to cool the drill bit and lubricate it to reduce friction
  5. Facilitating the collection of formation data
    The formation data obtain from mud logging is needed to support wireline log data, the return mud acts as a visual analytical tool to determine the presence of gas/oil shows
  6. Controlling corrosion
    By adding some chemical into mud, we can reduce the corrosion to a minimum since mud contain Carbon Oxygen, and water



Mud Types and its component

There are two types of mud, which is oil based mud and water based mud. Preparing mud is essentially same as cooking. When we cook, we need a recipe; so there is in mud preparation. We need also a recipe that contains the materials and procedure to prepare our mud. Various materials may be added at the surface to change or modify the characteristics of the mud.


These are some materials that will be added into the mud:

  1. Weighting agents (usually barite) are added to increase the density of mud, which helps to control subsurface pressure and build the wall cake.
  2. Viscosifying agents (clays and polymers) are added to thicken the mud and increase the hole-cleaning ability by acting as a solid-carrier.
  3. Filtration control chemicals (Starch) are added to control the thickness of the mud cake.
  4. Salts are sometimes added to protect downhole formations or to protect the mud against future contamination, as well as to increase density.
  5. Caustic soda is often added to increase the pH of mud, which improves the performance of dispersants and reduces corrosion.
  6. Preservatives, bactericides, emulsifiers and Temperature extenders may all be added to make other additives work better.
  7. Lost Circulation Materials (LCM) are added to combat lost circulation.
  8. Thinners are added to decrease the viscosity of Mud
  9. H2S Scavengers are added to kill Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) inside the wellbore since H2S is very dangerous
  10. Other mud additives may include lubricants, corrosion inhibitors, Shale Stabilizers and defoamers.


Mud System and Solid control equipment

There are two mud tanks on the rig: Active & Reserve. The active mud tank is used to hold the excess mud and mixing operation is done over there. While the reserve mud is used to store the heavy mud for emergencies use.

Shale Shaker
– Fine Solids must be removed, otherwise they will increase the weight of mud, reduce the penetration rate of it and increase circulating equipment wear

– removes gas from the mud which could form bubbles

The sequence of the mud discharge system is like this, Shale Shaker at the first, and after that desanders, and then defoamer, and last degasser. Why the degassed will be at the last? This is because gas not only formed in well bore but also results from shale shaker, thus degasser remove gas from shale shaker too, that’s why degasser at the last.


Advice from the speaker

As we all know, the current oil market is not in a good condition. Oil price is unpredictable sometimes. Thus, as a student that going to be graduating soon, all of us ought to have a plan for our future. We have to plan very well for every single possibility in the future, because under the bad condition, we may get sudden layoff without any presentiment.

Besides, we need to have our show. We have to increase our visibility in the industry. A student may get a good result or a worker might get a good achievement in a company, but no one else in the industry is known except your employer. So we must expose ourselves to increase your visibility in the industry. Be active and sign up for the account that related to oil and gas, such as LinkedIn, Oilpro, Rigzone and etc.


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