Mud tanks are an integral part of oil rigs. While these storage tanks are often overlooked, they have several essential functions.
However, what exactly is a mud tank? Read on to find out.
What Are Mud Tanks?
A mud tank is a sizable storage container, typically with an open top. In the past, people called it a mud pit because it used to be just a pit dug out of the earth. It’s used to hold drilling mud.
Mud tanks are constructed from welded-up steel plates and tubes. The bottom of the tank can either be square or cone-shaped. A tank can have several compartments.
For safety reasons, a catwalk with guard rails may be installed at the top of the container. This allows workers to inspect the drilling fluid without the danger of falling into it.
The Role of Mud
Drilling generates much heat from friction. Even small hand-held drills produce a lot of friction heat.
Now imagine a drill many times larger and spinning with more power digging through the earth. This is the case when drilling boreholes for oil and gas extraction or core sampling. The friction generated can cause severe damage to drilling equipment.
This is where drilling mud or drilling fluid serves a critical function. It acts as a lubricant to reduce friction and heat produced by drilling. It protects the drill and the hole formation from damage.
Another role of mud is to act as a carrier for materials that you’re trying to dig up. The materials are suspended in the mud, carried to the surface, and subsequently filtered out.
Drilling mud requires a special formulation taking into consideration factors such as viscosity and density. In fact, you’ll need the expertise of a mud engineer to determine the type of drilling mud suitable for your rig.
Active and Reserve
A mud tank is classified as either active or reserve. You can find many tanks in one oil rig. While the rig doesn’t use all the tanks at once, it does use several.
An active tank holds the mud that circulates during drilling. The number of active tanks depends on the volume of mud required to keep the hole full. It’s also vital that the amount of mud is sufficient for proper circulation.
An active tank can have different compartments with different roles. For example, the suction tank is where the pump picks up the mud that is used for the hole. The active tank can also have a chemical tank for mixing different chemicals and additives.
The reserve mud tank is not a part of the drilling process, but it has some critical functions. It can store excess mud and sometimes heavy mud for emergencies.
Crew members also use the reserve tank for mixing different types of mud.
Keep on Tanking
Every part of an oil rig is essential. Mud tanks are no exception; they are needed to make your oil rig run like clockwork.