Materials in drilling muds are known to sometimes distort the geomagnetic field at the location of the Measurement While Drilling (MWD) tool magnetometers that are used to measure the azimuth of well path. This distortion or shielding effect can contribute to substantial errors in determination of azimuth while drilling deviated wells and with significant well displacements, these errors may result in missing the target of a long deviated section in the range of 1–200m; and thus impact on the overall productivity expectation of the well.

The article describes significant shielding effects observed while drilling long wells. The criteria for acceptance of the surveys were not met and resultantly, an alternative survey source had to be obtained with resulted in increased cost and time to the client. A number of measures were implemented to eliminate this shielding effect.

The effects of drilling fluid contamination by magnetic materials are calculated, and a method to evaluate the magnetic properties of the drilling fluid is proposed. The effect of taking measurements with the pumps on versus off is quantified.

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