It’s been said time-and-time again that drilling fluid is the blood that keeps a horizontal directional drilling (HDD) project moving. As the size and overall number of projects have increased, so too has the acceptance and use of mud systems.

As the industry evolved, contractors became aware of the importance of bentonite- and barite-based drilling fluids shifting away from using water mixed with other less effective lubrication products. With the use of these new drilling fluids, mud systems began the migration from oilfield to HDD use.

“Whether onshore or offshore drilling … there are different stages of solids control that go on. There are separate sections with shale shakers, mud cleaners with hydrocyclone manifolds and decanter centrifuges scattered across the drilling operation,” says Raymond Pietramale, administrative sales and marketing manager, Elgin Separation Solutions.

Whether you refer to them as mud recyclers, reclaimers or cleaning systems, today’s equipment is a far cry from the piecemealed, oilfield-based units of the early days. They’ve become specifically-designed and engineered tools for the smaller footprint of an HDD jobsite and a key component to a project’s overall solids control plan.

“With the HDD crews, it became much more efficient to package all of this into one system with the shaker, pumps, tank capacity, desilter and desander, hydrocyclone manifolds, additives hopper and a power pack that are skid or trailer mounted to maintain a small footprint onsite,” says Pietramale.

Manufacturers like Elgin, as well as Mud Technology International Inc. and Tulsa Rig Iron and component manufacturers like Derrick Corp., can all trace their HDD roots to oilfield equipment operations. These manufacturers know the importance of efficiency on HDD jobsites and have grown to become leading designers and manufacturers of equipment dedicated to HDD operations.

To read more about the importance of mud systems and solids control, follow this link to download a copy of the 2021 HDD Guide.