A Method for Automated Surface Measurement of Drilling Fluid Rheological Properties

Physical Sciences : Petroleum

Available for licensing


  • Eric van Oort , Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
  • Ali Karimi Vajargah , PGE

Background/unmet need

Rotational rheometers are most commonly used in the oil and gas industry to determine the flow character of drilling fluids. Although the use of rotational rheometers is easy to implement, they have several limitations and disadvantages. Rheometers are generally expensive and can provide inaccurate readings. For example, rotational rheometer readings require the availability of a mud engineer, in which parameter checks occur only once or twice a day. Therefore, drilling fluid data could be up to 24 hours old. Attempts to automate measurement of drilling fluid rheological properties have not targeted a change or improvement in the protocol of the measurement device itself. A novel approach to rheology characterization is necessary in order to provide continuous automated surface measurements.

Invention Description

The proposed invention is a pipe rheometer that measures drilling fluid rheological parameters in real time at the rig site. Although the concept of a pipe rheometer is not new, this method has never been applied on the rig site for real-time monitoring of drilling fluid properties. All recent attempts toward drilling fluid automation focused on the modification of existing rotational rheometers for automated rheology measurements rather than introducing a new approach. Current advances in technology, such as the invention of accurate flow meters and pressure transducers, enable the usage of a portion of pipe at the surface of a well for automated rheology measurements. Installation of rotational rheometers is costly and ineffective with significant technical drawbacks. The proposed pipe rheometer has simple implementation on the rig site, in which installation of accurate pressure transducers on an existing flowline allows for easy setup. This invention is a major step towards achieving an effective fully-automated mud measurement and monitoring system that removes the need for direct human interaction.


  • Elimination of obsolete, inaccurate technologies for drilling fluid automation
  • Eliminates need for direct human interaction and monitoring of system checkups and data
  • Improved hydraulic planning and real-time decision-making as a result of accurately obtained rheological measurements
  • Easy installation, simple implementation
  • Cost-effective


  • Pipe rheometer with improved accuracy and reliability for rheological measurements
  • Novel approach for real-time measurements of drilling fluid rheological properties
  • Precise prediction of annular pressure profile in Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) and Dual Gradient Drilling (DGD)
  • Precise prediction of Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) in deep offshore wells

Market potential/applications

Grand View Research reports that the global drilling fluids market is expected to reach $12.55 billion by 2024, while Research and Markets expects the global drilling fluids market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% by 2021. One of the most important tasks during any drilling operation is to measure rheological properties of drilling fluids to allow for optimum maintenance and wellbore hydraulics management. Oil and gas companies that manage the use of drilling fluids in wellbores can benefit greatly from implementing an automated rheological measurement scheme as provided by the proposed invention in order to make real-time decisions based on accurate and efficiently-obtained fluid data.

Development Stage

Proof of concept

IP Status

  • 1 PCT patent application filed
  • 1 U.S. patent application filed