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How To Get A Job As A Mud Engineer In The Oilfield
The job of a mud engineer or "drilling fluids engineer" on the oil drilling rig is complex and never ending as the drill bit bores down through layers of rock in the earth in search of petroleum. Drilling fluid is typically a mixture of the minerals barite and bentonite with other components added in. Barite gives the fluid weight and bentonite clay helps build up a "wall cake" that seals the earth as the oil rigs drill bit has bored through it. Different weights of mud are needed as the hole in the earth becomes deeper and higher pressures of oil and gas are encountered.
The mud engineer will work closely with the
geologist, company man, mud loggers and driller to determine how heavy (how much
barite to add) to make the mud to prevent a blowout. If the mud is out of
balance, or too heavy, it will push out into the porous rock formations it
encounters and cause a "lost circulation" situation to happen where the mud is
no longer making the round trip up to the surface and over the shakers in to the
mud pit to be pumped back down the hole again. It is this balancing act, keeping
the mud heavy enough but not too heavy that is a 24-7 job. As layers of earth
where oil and gas have already been extracted are encountered the mud engineer
may have to add LCM or lost circulation material to seal up the well bore. This
may include chopped up paper or wood fibers, etc. Large companies such as Baroid
an smaller ones such as Newpark Drilling Fluids hire mud engineers to work on
offshore and onshore drilling rigs.
The engineer is also responsible for pumping
cement down the well bore as needed to seal off certain formations it a lost
circulation situation is occurring. If the mud engineer in staying on the oil
drilling rig 24-7 then his job hours are the same, napping when he can until the
well is done. Work hours are long, conditions dirty and at times stressful and
it can be days or weeks before his is home again. Some larger companies rotate
engineers after so many days but smaller companies leave one engineer only at
the oil drilling rig to do the job until the well is done.
You might want to enroll in a school such as
Oklahoma Mud School or pay for a three month Halliburton Mud School course in
Houston at your own expense. It will cost several thousand but you stand a
chance of getting a job making many times that.