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1. n. [Drilling]

Abbreviation for shale shaker, the primary and probably most important device on the rig for removing drilled solids from the mud. This vibrating sieve is simple in concept, but a bit more complicated to use efficiently. A wire-cloth screen vibrates while the drilling fluid flows on top of it. The liquid phase of the mud and solids smaller than the wire mesh pass through the screen, while larger solids are retained on the screen and eventually fall off the back of the device and are discarded. Obviously, smaller openings in the screen clean more solids from the whole mud, but there is a corresponding decrease in flow rate per unit area of wire cloth. Hence, the drilling crew should seek to run the screens (as the wire cloth is called), as fine as possible, without dumping whole mud off the back of the shaker. Where it was once common for drilling rigs to have only one or two shale shakers, modern high-efficiency rigs are often fitted with four or more shakers, thus giving more area of wire cloth to use, and giving the crew the flexibility to run increasingly fine screens.

Alternate Form: shale shaker

See: cuttingsdesander

Photograph of shale shaker
Photograph of shale shaker.

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