About Drilling Fluids Engineers

What is a drilling fluids engineer?

A drilling fluids engineer (also known as a mud engineer or mud man) is a contract professional working on location on behalf of a service company or E&P company on a drilling operation. The mud engineer manages the drilling fluid (often called mud) used in the drilling of a well. This includes testing the mud, monitoring and adjusting its properties, and assessing the needs of the geological formation to facilitate an efficient and successful drilling operation.

What are the responsibilities of a drilling fluids engineer? 

The drilling fluids engineer is a drilling fluids expert, recommending treatments and adjustments to the drilling mud and supervising the equipment used to pump the mud throughout the drilling process. Before the operation, they create a mud program based on the anticipated geology of the formation, planning the mud composition at various levels in the well. During drilling, the drilling fluids engineer monitors the mud weight and chemical and rheological properties, collecting data from the mud logging technician and testing the density and viscosity of the drilling mud. They recommend adjustments, replacements, additions, or treatments based on the composition of the rock formation and possible environmental impacts. Drilling mud is also used to stabilize the rock formation, suspend cuttings, control the pressure in a well, and cool the drill bit, so the mud engineer is responsible for managing the mud to accommodate each of these needs.

What is the required experience or career path for a drilling fluids engineer?

Having a field-related undergraduate or technical degree and experience working on drilling operations is preferred, but there are other ways to become a drilling fluids engineer. Almost all mud engineers will have attended a mud school, which does not require a degree, with classes specific to drilling fluids, mud testing, geology, methods, and contaminations. Some large oil companies have their own mud schools. Without a degree, it is possible to work one’s way up to a drilling fluids engineer from a lower position on a rig such as a derrick hand, pump man, or mud logger.   

Where does a drilling fluids engineer work?

A drilling fluids engineer (mud man or mud engineer) spends about 99% of their time on location, only leaving for necessary groceries or errands during lulls in drilling operation.

What is a drilling fluids engineer's schedule?

A drilling fluids engineer’s schedule varies depending on the schedule run by the service or operating company, but common schedules for this position are (days on site/days off):

  • 14/14
  • 14/7
  • 21/21
  • 30/30

Drilling fluids engineers typically work at least 12 hours per day. Some companies rotate day and night shift mud men while others only run one consultant who is responsible for 24-hour operations.

Who does a drilling fluids engineer report to?

The drilling fluids engineer reports to the well supervisor and drilling consultant.

Who reports to a drilling fluids engineer?

There is typically no direct report to a drilling fluids engineer.

How much do drilling fluids engineers make?

Drilling fluids engineers (mud engineers or mud men) make on average $715 per day. They may make between $600 and $900 per day depending on experience, specialties, location, and category of well. Mud engineers working directly for an E&P company will usually have more responsibility and higher pay while those working for a service company will receive lower pay.