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Drilling Fluid History Overview

1900 - 1920 Dirt + Water = Mud
1901 Spindletop well in Texas – Considered the first successful rotary drilled oil well. Fluid circulation had been done earlier than this but primarily for water wells. The story that goes with the Lucas Spindletop well is that an earthen pit was dug next to the rig and filled with water. Then several cows were rounded up and marched through the pit stirring up the bottom of the pit making mud.
According to Rogers, the mud fluid did not warrant special attention even though it was necessary for a successful well completion. They did not record the fluid properties or publish any discussions or information about the fluid. It was 13 years after Spindletop that the first discussion of a mud appeared in the literature, and even then it was for the use of a “mud-laden fluid”.for cable tool drilling in Oklahoma.
1914 Heggem and Pollard – described the use of mud to control gas with a sufficient hydrostatic head to prevent blowouts. According to Rogers the fluid they used for their cable tool operations probably also represented the current state-of-the-art in rotary drilling. They did define the term mud-laden fluid as: “A mixture of water with any clayey material which will remain suspended in water for a considerable time.” They also reported, according to Rogers, that fine, sticky clays (gumbo) were considered to be well suited for mud making purposes. They recommended that the proportion of clay to water be about 20 wt%.
1916 In 1916, Lewis and McMurray worked on the same problem with cable tool operations improved the definition of a mud laden fluid to “A mixture of water with any clayey material which will remain suspended in water for a considerable time and is free from sand, lime cuttings or similar materials.” They also stated:
• Carry a specific gravity of 1.05 to 1.15 (8.75 to 9.58 lb/gal).
• Do not drill with a fluid as thin as water
• Be thick enough to clog the pores of sand and rock and not pass into them
• A thick mud was advantageous for plugging the sand, preventing caving of formations and holding back
  high gas pressures.
1918 Brantley mentioned that in 1918; 4 ½ tons of iron cuttings were added to a mud to control gas pressures
and prevent blowouts.
1920s Barite and Bentonite Patents
1921 Stroud starts investigation weighting materials. Current practice was to use drill solids to achieve 10.25 to
11 lb/gal mud weight, very viscous. Develops use of iron oxide in South Arkansas and North Louisianna.
1922 Stoud uses barites for weight control
1926 Stroud issued patent on weighting materials, assigned to National Lead Company.
1929 Harth and Cross were issued patents on the use of bentonite as suspending and gelling agents
for water-clay fluids.
1930s Mud Testing, Fluid Loss Control Additives
1931 Marsh funnel
1935 Filter press developed
1937 Starch used for filtrate control, use of salt water muds
Mid 1930s Sodium Silicate muds, first use of Oil-Based muds
1940s Special Mud Systems
  Oil emulsion muds
  lime, gypsum and silicate muds
  lignosulfonate/lignite muds
1950s Invert OBM, Fann viscometer
1960s CaCl2 in OBM, Solids control equipment
1970s Polymer Muds, Multi-Speed Viscometers
1980s Environmental Concerns - products, cuttings disposal
1990s Synthetic NonAqueous Fluids, Deep-Water Muds, WBM to Replace OBM
2000s Polymer R&D, Solids Free Systems, Waste Management, Wellbore Strengthening

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