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Technology Applications

Chris Carpenter, JPT Technology Editor

Safety Valve

The Weatherford Optimax series of safety valves has a long track record of guarding against catastrophic loss of well control. More than 5,000 tubing-retrievable safety valves (TRSVs) have been provided worldwide, with zero failures. The success of the valves can be attributed largely to two aspects of the design and manufacturing process: the hydraulic system, which eliminates common points of failure, and the extensive internal testing program. The series offers a variety of valves suited for deployment in diverse wellbore sizes and conditions (Fig. 1). The three newest valves in the portfolio extend service to environments with pressures up to 15,000 psi and temperatures up to 350°F. A 7-in., super-slim TRSV provides an effective barrier in large-bore, high-rate gas completions; a 4½-in. TRSV is optimized for high-pressure/high-temperature applications; and an additional 4½-in. TRSV is designed for deepwater applications. After undergoing a robust internal testing program, all three valves were qualified to the V1 validation grade under the new American Petroleum Institute 14A 12th Edition standard.

Cable Orientation Beacon

Silixa introduced its cable mapping service, a cost-effective, low-risk solution for mapping the orientation of downhole optical sensing cables in order to avoid cable damage during perforation. Fiber-optic cables (FOCs) installed on the outside of completion casing are at risk of being damaged during perforation. To avoid damaging the FOC, the perforation charges are oriented away from the FOC. In order to achieve this, the orientation of the FOC must be determined when the installation is complete. The Cable Orientation Beacon (COB) is an autonomous downhole sensor that is installed adjacent to the FOC under a standard midjoint clamp (Fig. 2). Unlike traditional sensors that use wireline electromagnetic or ultrasonic tools inside the casing to detect the presence of the cable on the outside of casing, Silixa’s COB measures its own orientation using an internal sensor, then transmits those data to the FOC by an acoustic signal. The acoustic signal is read at surface and translated back to an orientation in the form of an angular position around the outside of the casing relative to the high side of the borehole. Use of the COB reduces overall costs by eliminating the need for tractored wireline services.

Extended-Reach-Well-Drilling Solution

M-I Swaco, a Schlumberger company, has developed a water-based drilling system with engineering flexibility designed to help operators quickly and successfully address the challenges of shale plays, including their economic and environmental constraints. The novel, low-cost chemistry of the HydraGlyde high-­performance water-based drilling-fluid system reduces torque, drag, shale swelling, and dispersion. It delivers a rate of penetration (ROP) comparable with that of oil-based mud, with optimal hole-cleaning characteristics and high levels of wellbore stability in high-angle build sections and long lateral sections. This is made possible with the company’s HydraSpeed ROP enhancer, which delivers lubricity that mimics that of oil-based mud (Fig. 3). The system also delivers a high-quality filter cake and a low-­tortuosity wellbore that minimizes the risks of differential sticking. The cost-effective HydraGlyde system addresses several challenges associated with shales, including accretion in the surface hole, wellbore instability, mud losses in the intermediate section, solids buildup, and hole cleaning in the horizontal section. A specially engineered primary shale inhibitor provides a high degree of wellbore stability, and a proprietary encapsulator minimizes clay dispersion and enhances wellbore integrity.

Retrievable Bridge Plug

Peak Well Systems introduced the Simultra Retrievable Bridge Plug, suitable for gas wells and other extremely challenging applications. The new Simultra range incorporates MetaPlex technology, a unique hybrid metal/elastomer seal that delivers both exceptional performance and improved recovery reliability. Without having to rely purely on elastomer elements, Simultra Retrievable Bridge Plugs have the smallest running diameter in their class; offer a larger internal flow path; provide the highest available seal integrity; and retract to smaller than their original diameter, thereby ensuring reliable deployment and recovery (Fig. 4). Set and retrieved with Peak’s modular, nonexplosive PowerTool, deployment is possible in vertical and horizontal wells with all conventional conveyance methods, providing operational flexibility and confidence. Peak successfully completed V0 gas tests at 135°C and 7,500 kpsi on its 4½-in. Simultra plug. Further testing in October has now extended that range to 175°C. Simultra Retrievable Bridge Plugs are currently available for industry-standard tubulars in 4½- and 5½-in. casing sizes, with a 7-in. option expected to complete testing in early 2016.

Heat Exchanger

Kenics heat exchangers from Chemineer offer a highly efficient design consisting of streamlined Kenics static-mixer elements for superior performance compared with conventional straight, empty-tube heat exchangers. Conventional straight, empty-tube designs allow laminar buildup from the process fluid on the internal tube walls, which inhibits flow and diminishes the heat-transfer process. Kenics heat exchangers use static-­mixer elements in each heat exchanger tube to greatly reduce the film buildup on the internal walls (Fig. 5). Process fluid is pushed continuously from the center of each tube to the wall and back to the center. This eliminates thermal gradients and boosts the inside film coefficient. Product performance characteristics of the Kenics heat exchanger include a more-uniform, consistent transfer process; three to seven times greater heat-transfer rates than empty tubes; mixer elements that create a self-cleaning wiping action; minimization of fouling; surface renewal at the tube wall that reduces the chance of thermal degradation; plug-flow characteristics that produce uniform heat history; reduction of temperature gradients; and allowance for viscous materials to cool to the near-freezing point.

Ethernet Connectivity Cables

To protect infrastructures against disasters, promote worker safety, and facilitate automated functions ranging from drilling to wellhead and transport-pipeline operation, oil and gas operators are turning increasingly to fiber-optic-cable suppliers for end-to-end communications and control solutions. Many such solutions include ruggedized cable and connectors, such as those offered by the Optical Cable Corporation, that ensure survival of fiber-based automation/control architectures for onshore and offshore oil and gas operations, even in the harshest environments (Fig. 6). As fiber-optic cable emerges as the medium of choice in many industrial arenas, the DIN rail enclosure plays an increasingly important role. Mounted to a standard DIN rail—the metal rail used to mount various electrical components (e.g., terminal blocks, motor starters, circuit breakers) in a control cabinet—a DIN rail enclosure provides a central location where external and internal wiring can be connected quickly and efficiently. This type of enclosure is ideal for production applications and the industrial automation side of businesses. Today, the oil and gas industry is turning from highly proprietary communications systems to the more enterprise-wide prevalent Ether­net communications protocol through fiber-optic cable. The appropriate DIN rail enclosure provides an optimal connection for fiber cable that can be terminated in a fixed position.

Subsea Asphaltene Inhibitor

Baker Hughes introduced its high-­performance, low-dosage FATHOM XT SUBSEA525 inhibitor that helps control asphaltene deposition in deepwater wells, providing better flow assurance and reducing remediation costs by minimizing the risk of blockages in production lines and equipment. The inhibitor was designed and certified for offshore applications using a proprietary qualification protocol and a stringent laboratory evaluation method to enable full compatibility with subsea equipment and effective performance at low treatment levels (Fig. 7). During production, crude oils can deposit asphaltenes inside pumps and pipes, creating serious production issues such as plugged flowlines and clogged equipment, resulting in the need to stop operations and perform costly remediation procedures to get production back on line at acceptable levels. Many times, these procedures offer only temporary relief. To lessen the risk of asphaltene deposition and to enhance flow, the FATHOM XT inhibitor can be applied at low treatment levels during initial production and throughout the life of the well. The low dosage rate simplifies supply logistics, reduces on-site storage, and lowers handling risk. Baker Hughes tests and qualifies all FATHOM XT chemicals for materials compatibility and reliability by use of the company’s proprietary 16-test qualification protocol. The FATHOM XT SUBSEA525 inhibitor is the first of a new line of high-performance asphaltene inhibitors.