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Technology Applications

Chris Carpenter, JPT Technology Editor

Electronically Actuated Casing Packer

Baker Hughes released its Cytadel ZX electronically actuated casing packer, a gas-tight packer with an electronic trigger mechanism, used to provide a new level of wellbore integrity and reduce the risk of sustained-casing-pressure (SCP) -related blowouts. The Cytadel ZX packer forms a secondary mechanical pressure barrier above the primary cement job (Fig. 1). The barrier eliminates gas migration and protects against dangerous SCP, even when downhole conditions compromise the sealing integrity of the casing cement. The downhole packer is built on a solid-body mandrel, eliminating ports and O-rings and the potential for gas migration through the mandrel. The foundation of the packer is the zero-extrusion ZX seal element, which has proved reliable in 99.5% of more than 40,000 applications. Finally, a unique modular electronic trigger mechanism, deployed and activated in one trip, eliminates the need for pressure or pipe manipulation to set the packer. Designed for both onshore and offshore applications, the packer is run as part of a long-string completion and is positioned to isolate the casing/casing annulus. After the cementing operation, the packer is actuated remotely from the surface when a unique signal activates the onboard electronics module. Once set, the packer provides an annular seal, creating a permanent gas-tight barrier.

Structural-Integrity-Assessment Tool

Flexible risers are critical assets in floating production operations, subjected to demanding conditions involving extreme dynamic loading and hazardous environments. Yet until now, their structural integrity has been difficult to assess during operation because the pipe design is too complex for conventional inspection technologies to be effective. MAPS-FR, by GE Oil & Gas, is a tool designed to truly assess the structural integrity of the key load-bearing components of the pipe’s construction—the steel armor-wire layers (Fig. 2). Underpinned by the MAPS magnetic-stress-measurement methodology, MAPS-FR is the only inspection method that gauges actual stress levels in these multiple wire layers, detecting capacity degradation at the onset, and presenting opportunities for asset-life extension, proactive-mitigation planning, and minimized operational risk. A key benefit is MAPS-FR’s unique capability of sensing the effect of wire damage many meters away from the actual damage site, which is advantageous for evaluating riser integrity at the splash zone and up to the top termination, where there is little or no access to the riser structure.

Distress Radio Beacon

Hansen Protection’s new Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) makes it easier to locate people in distress at sea. The beacon was developed in Norway and is manufactured there. The beacon takes cross-bearings from multiple systems. Several vessels can participate in search and rescue, increasing the probability of locating survivors (Fig. 3). Previous tracking transmitters used by offshore oil workers have transmitted signals only on the 121.5-MHz emergency-wave band that only rescue helicopters and rescue boats could pick up. But the EPIRB combines signals on several different frequencies. In addition to sending signals over the emergency frequency, it also uses AIS, the shipping-industry anticollision system. The beacon also uses the American Global Positioning Satellite system and its Russian equivalent, Glonass. The beacon is mounted in a bracket in the survival suit. Testing of the suit was performed in a cold chamber and in pools that simulate harsh-environment conditions. Hansen Protection currently exports survival suits to Canada, China, Russia, Denmark, and Germany, as well as other countries.

Drillstem-Test Tool String

Expro deployed its new Expro Annulus-Operated Circulating and Test Tool (ExACT) for the first time in a live offshore well. The successful operation took place on the Vermillion field in the Gulf of Mexico following trial work onshore in Brazil last year. The tool, one of the most advanced of its kind, combines downhole shut-in and circulating functionality. Rated at 15,000 psi and temperatures up to 400°F, ExACT features minimal fast-cycling to position the ball and ports in the required position, shortening times between cycles and therefore reducing costs (Fig. 4). A key feature of the tool is its ability to fit with a range of downhole operational conditions and objectives. Part of Expro’s new generation of drillstem-testing tools and developed in-house, ExACT is primarily aimed at deepwater markets. Its unique “smart-collet” and interlocking system makes the tool operationally flexible and efficient, ultimately saving rig time. During the deployment, ­tubing-conveyed perforating guns were fired by use of a ­pressure-activated firing system set to detonate with 2,400-psi applied annulus pressure. ExACT was set up at surface to fully function downhole with applied annulus pressure between 1,100 and 1,400 psi. Post-job analysis of gauge data verified that ExACT was operating within 50 psi of calculated values in all tool positions.

Pressure Transducer

Viatran announced the availability of their new Model 511 Hammer Union Pressure Transducer. This design has addressed the needs of the user by expanding the electrical-connection access by 77% to allow for easier installations, as well as providing a method to calibrate the unit through the connector pins (Fig. 5). This is achieved while the ability to repair the device multiple times is maintained, an important capability for businesses servicing the oil and gas industry. Other features that save time and money include improved accuracy and temperature options and a housing design that eliminates fluid ingress and provides a more durable unit for longer life and higher reliability ratings. Older models can be upgraded to the new 511 standard, which enables customers to strategically consolidate all units to one convenient configuration with enhanced capabilities. This simplifies data collection and streamlines the installation process. Potential applications include acidizing, choke manifolds, extraction, fracturing and cementing, mud pumps, new-well development, and nitrogen injection.

Shale Drilling Rig

Schramm introduced the T250XD, the latest addition to its Telemast line of trailer-mounted drilling rigs specifically designed for shale. The T250XD is designed for deeper drilling applications, including increased topdrive travel, added blowout-preventer clearance, and an operator’s control room, as well as the ability to interface with remote operating centers around the globe by satellite or the Internet (Fig. 6). The T250XD provides a 250,000‑lbm (113 398-kg) hookload using Telemast technology and is equipped with Schramm’s LoadSafe XD fully automated, hands-free pipe-­handling system. These and other ­Schramm technologies are helping operators not only to address many shale expansion concerns, including improving worker safety and lessening road wear, but also to lower operating costs and increase profits.

Oil-Spill-Retainer System

American Energy Investment Group’s oil-spill-retainer system, the Protection Ring Offshore Environment (PROE), is a self-propelled, submersible system that uses a retractable oil-retainer curtain and is assigned to the offshore drilling rig at all times. The ring-like device has a curtain suspended vertically from the ring bottom that retains the oil spill. When not in use, PROE can be submerged below marine surface traffic. The retracted curtain during submergence substantially reduces current drag and compressed-natural-gas-fuel usage. PROE may also be divided into several parts in case the spill accumulates in several areas. Several million barrels of oil spill can be captured with PROE. Much larger than a conventional skimmer, PROE uses a similar concept but can perform a number of critical operations that skimmers cannot. It is designed for remote, high-seas work and large spills. In the event of a blowout or other accident, PROE is surfaced, the two ends are locked together to encircle the rig, and the retainer curtain is deployed (Fig. 7). Setup operations are estimated to require less than 1 hour. The azimuth thrusters provide the force necessary to move PROE into the correct position and maintain that location with the aid of global-­positioning technology.

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Downhole Wireless Sensor System

Emerson Process Management successfully deployed its Roxar Downhole Wireless PT Sensor System. The instrument has been deployed as part of the completion on Statoil’s Skuld field in the Norwegian North Sea. The Roxar Downhole Wireless PT Sensor System provides a means of detecting any variations in pressure or temperature behind the casing in subsea wells, particularly in the B annulus. Through being provided with an early warning of abnormal pressure variations, operators are able to ensure that remedial action is scheduled and implemented in a timely manner, thereby protecting well integrity and ensuring offshore safety (Fig. 8). The deterioration of cement seals or loss of casing integrity because of increased pressure behind the well casing can allow injection or reservoir gas to migrate vertically along the outside of the casing, leading to a number of unwanted and potentially hazardous conditions. With the Roxar Downhole Wireless PT Sensor System, however, operators will be able to monitor Annulus-B pressure and temperature wirelessly and continuously online for the life of the well. The tool will also negate the sometimes excessive and expensive overdimensioning of casings that can take place to compensate for worst-case scenarios and will also potentially provide operators with significant cost savings.

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Radiographic Inspection System

Applus RTD’s Rayscan Tankscan is a real-time digital radiographic inspection system that delivers the capability to complete a full inspection of liquefied-natural-gas storage-tank welds in a single scan movement, producing a high-quality image of each weld. The system is an improvement on current radiography methods because no chemical processing of film is required and a steady scanning system is used for dynamic examination. The system is suitable for both horizontal and vertical welds, and its rigid frame helps maintain alignment between the X-ray source and the digital-line detector (Fig. 9). This more-efficient process can serve operator budgets by reducing the amount of time consumed examining each weld, as well as the number of operators required. The product has been designed to avoid vibrations. A safe working distance of only 3 m from the frame is also achieved with a protective shield surrounding the X-ray source, beam, and detector.