The oil industry has responded rapidly to the decline in oil prices of these last few months. As in past downturns, the rig count has fallen quickly, with the US land rig count having been particularly hard hit. The Baker Hughes rig count for US land rigs shows a fall from 1,866 at the beginning of June 2014 to 1,028 at the start of April 2015, a decrease of 45%. A large portion of this reduction has occurred in the shale plays.
In prior industry cycles, declines in rig activity have not affected the coiled-tubing (CT) market immediately. In fact, an increase in the CT sector has been observed in some past down cycles. CT had been predominantly an intervention method used to aid or maintain existing production. However, the focus in the US CT market has shifted to supporting completion operations in the shale plays. Anecdotal opinion at the Coiled Tubing and Well Intervention Conference and Exhibition in Houston this year suggested that there is a greater and more immediate effect on the CT market in the US. Opinion similarly suggested that activity outside of the US land market is responding as it has in previous cycles.
The CT industry, like all other sectors in our industry, will respond to today’s new market conditions. Technical innovation, as evident at the CT conference, will continue. The focus of this innovation may shift toward improving processes and their efficiency—namely, doing more with less. This repurposing brings an opportunity to drive and recognize the value of these innovations. Perhaps this period in the cycle will allow for a consolidation of knowledge and incremental development of today’s technologies.
The papers in this year’s feature represent innovation, the adaptation of existing technologies, and overcoming operational problems. They demonstrate the transfer of knowledge from other sectors of our industry. By using that knowledge, each paper shows that technical innovation is still possible in this current climate and continues to move the CT industry forward.
Alex Crabtree, SPE, is senior adviser for well interventions and well integrity with the Hess Corporation E&P Technology department. He has more than 32 years of experience in the upstream oil and gas industry. Crabtree holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering. He has worked in southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, and South America, both onshore and offshore. Crabtree previously worked within the oilfield-services-company sector, holding various engineering and management posts in research and development, field operations, downhole-tool design, and technology implementation. He has authored several SPE papers and is a past program-committee chairperson for various SPE conferences and SPE Applied Technology Workshops. Crabtree was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2001–02 and is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.
Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 170816 How Intelligent-Coiled-Tubing Technology Combined With Real-Time Downhole-Camera Visuals Created a Formula for Success During a Challenging Through-Tubing Recompletion Operation in the North Sea by R.M. de Jonge, Baker Hughes, et al.
SPE 173651 Preparing for CTD Success by M. Ross, BP Exploration Alaska, et al.
SPE 173660 A Field Case History of Sulfate-Reducing-Bacteria Attack on Coiled-Tubing Bias Welds—Root Causes and Remediation by Clark Seal, Baker Hughes, et al.