"Sour Service" refers to a well environment containing Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), which is naturally associated with acid conditions. It is well known that H2S is hazardous to human health, living organisms, and more generally to the environment. It is for this reason that wells found with Sour Gas were often carefully plugged and abandoned in the past. H2S can also lead to catastrophic brittle failure of drillstring components: the physical phenomenon associated with Sour Service Environments and affecting steel based products under applied or residual stress is known as H2S embrittlement or more specifically as Sulfide Stress Cracking (SSC).
With the increasing demand of gas worldwide, some highly sour oil and gas reservoirs are being explored, mainly in Russia, the Middle East, China and North America, and are now more and more associated with complex well profiles – such as deep reservoirs or extended reach wells. The use of high strength drill pipe is essential to achieve such drilling objectives; however it does represents significant technical challenges in terms of drill pipe integrity and operational safety with the current high strength grades available on the market, such as S-135 drill pipe. Because higher strength is generally detrimental to Sulfide Stress Cracking, innovative chemistries and new heat treatment processes are needed to push Sour Service material limits even further.
A new high strength drill pipe family has been developed to specifically address those challenges: these new grades exhibit a minimum Yield Strength (120 ksi) higher than the current Sour Service grades available on the market as described by the current industry standards (95ksi or 105 ksi Specified Minimum Yield Strength). In order to guarantee the SSC resistance of these high strength materials, pipes and tool joints are tested as per the NACE standards. A first string of this high strength material is already being commercialized and used for the first time in offshore wells in the North Sea.