As the offshore industry looks to the future, it’s understandable that it should take stock and ask itself whether there are improved ways of doing things and how it can be more operationally and cost efficient in the future.

Operators have questions about their ability to perform in a lower price environment: How can I make my drilling and production more efficient? How can I further streamline operations and reduce waste costs? Do I take the plunge and look to new technologies to improve drilling efficiencies and reduce cost, even in such a cost-constrained environment? 

One such area where offshore operators are taking the plunge and seeing improved efficiencies, technology advances and cost savings is in solids control. 

How operators handle their solids and drilling fluids (or muds) to improve drilling efficiencies and how they handle the accompanying waste generated to meet environment regulations and reduce costs will be key to future profitability.

One such technology that is meeting this need and heralding a different way of doing things is Cubility’s MudCube system. The MudCube is an enclosed vacuum-based filtration system that vacuums drilling fluids through a rotating filter belt using high airflow to separate the cuttings from the fluid. 

Whereas previously the industry relied on shale shakers that use vibrations and high G-forces to filter out solids for discharge or treatment, the MudCube delivers almost immediate benefits. This includes the more efficient separation of drilled rock particles from the fluids, better quality drilling fluid and improved drilling efficiencies and a reduction in the volumes of drilling fluid lost and waste generated.

The solids removal efficiencies of the MudCube also ensure that as much as 80% more mud is recovered than through competing technologies, a substantial benefit when multiplied by 200 onshore or offshore rigs, for example.

Finally, for rig contractors, the MudCube brings with it the benefits of leaner and more cost-effective rigs and improved HSE. There is less equipment, it makes a smaller footprint (the MudCube weighs one and a half tons as opposed to typically three tons for a shale shaker), and offers no exposure to vibrations, oil vapor and mist found with shale shakers. 

Although many new technologies tend to go through gradual adoptions, it’s also a testament to the quality and performance of the MudCube that it is operational in many offshore fields today, impacting drilling efficiencies and reducing mud loss and waste. Offshore examples include the Maersk Gallant and Maersk Giant jackup drilling rigs on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, as well as the Johan Sverdrup Field, where production startup is scheduled for the end of 2019. In this case, the MudCubes will provide Statoil with drilling efficiencies, lower mud consumption, reduced waste volumes and improved HSE.

Work in the Far East also is gathering momentum, with a recent MudCube deployment on an HP/HT well offshore Malaysia. And the Gulf of Mexico remains a key target for Cubility, as well.

One of the key measurements in managing drilling programs and costs offshore is that of nonproductive time (NPT), with NPT posing a substantial cost to the industry. To date, no NPT on a rig has ever been reported due to the failure of a MudCube.

Onshore activity for the MudCube is also on the rise where, in the case of onshore drilling pads and their increased flexibility, the MudCube can have a potentially double-digit impact on cost budgets almost immediately.

Cubility recently announced that the MudCube is now being used at the Catoosa Geophysical and Drilling Technology Testing & Evaluation Facility in Tulsa, Okla., where it helped support solids control in the drilling and testing of a 1,830-m (6,000-ft) borehole well, the deepest in Catoosa’s history. Following Catoosa, MudCubes have also been deployed in the Marcellus, in South Texas, and in Canada, with strong indications of further growth from the North American marketplace.

And there are more innovations. This includes the CubeLink, a wrap-around conveyor-type system that can efficiently move all types of drilling waste with both high liquid content and dry consistency over long distances.

Offshore operators need to manage costs and deliver value and profits faster than ever before. Improving drilling efficiencies and effective solids control is a good way to start. Visit the Cubility stand at booth 4139.