Ultra Fine LGS Particles Removal by ESC, Recovering 65% of the Available Base Oil from the Original Fluid Volume

South Texas Storage Facility

Ground Effects successfully demonstrated the Electro Separation Cell Technology to treat spent fluid from a storage facility in South Texas. Low gravity solids in the feed mud, totalling 20.4%v/v, were reduced to 2.8%v/v. The recovery rate of the base oil was 65% of the available oil from the original fluid.

The Situation

The Eagle Ford Shale play in southern Texas is the most active shale play in the world, and predicted to continue development for decades to come, even with lower oil prices. As such the drilling operations must be reliable and efficient. Extended reuse of drilling fluid systems results in extensive accumulation of low gravity solids (LGS) to the point where they cannot be removed by conventional solids control equipment.

Typical options to reduce this risk are to dilute the fluid system, creating three or four times the original volume, or disposing of the fluid system and building a new system from scratch. Many mud companies now have an over abundance of spent oil based mud in large storage facilities throughout the state. This results in thousands of cubic meters of mud that is stored, eventually to be transported and disposed of, adding more cost to drilling operations.


The Solution

The Electro Separation Cell (ESC) technology, recovers valuable base oil for reuse and/or resale. The ESC uses electrokinetics to destabilize the bonds within the OBM emulsion and separate  out the base oil from the native clays and drilling solids. The ESC focuses on colloidal and ultra fine LGS of less than 6 microns. The result is clean base oil.

The reduction in costs and improvement of operational efficiencies is substantial. There is a 40.8% reduction of waste produced, reducing storage, disposal and transportation costs.


The Results

Other key performance indicators achieved by the ESC Technology during this treatment process were:

  • Recovered oil quality unchanged from original
  • OBM properties
    • before ESC: 62.2/17.5/20.4 % oil/%water/%solids
    • after ESC: 95.7/1.5/2.8 % oil/%water/%solids
  • Average of 29,800lb of solids removed per day
  • Density: before ESC: 11.1ppg; Recovered base oil: 7.00ppg
  • Disposal volumes reduced by 40.8%
  • Reduced the costs and liability associated with storage, transportation and disposal of full fluid volume
  • Proven, viable solution for dealing with high LGS content fluid systems
The ESC technology treated spent OBM from a South Texas storage facility.
  • LGS in feed mud reduced from 20.4% to 2.8% v/v
  • Average of 29,800lb of solids removed per day
  • Final density 7.00ppg
  • Process rate 617 to 754 bbl per day equivalent
  • Disposal volumes reduced by 40.8%


ESC Run Capacity per Unit 1M 3M 5M 10M
Gallons per minute (GPM) 1.1 to 2.2 3.3 to 6.6 6 to 11 18 to 22
Barrels per day (BPD) 38 to 76 113 to 226 189 to 377 617 to 754
Liters per minute (LPM) 4 to 8 12.5 to 25 21 to 42 68 to 83
Cubic meters per day (m3/day) 6 to 12 18 to 36 30 to 60 98 to 120


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