This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Judy Feder, contains highlights of paper SPE 204417, “Avoiding Erosion: Best Practices for Coiled Tubing Annular Fracturing Operations,” by Kaveh Yekta, SPE, and Jamie Fenwick, SPE, Essential Energy Services, and Kevin Elliott, SPE, NOV, et al., prepared for the 2021 SPE/ICoTA Virtual Well Intervention Conference, 22–25 March. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The onset of erosion of coiled tubing (CT) strings may be difficult to predict in annular fracturing operations. The complete paper describes a methodology of verifying that CT strings have not been subject to erosion caused by annular fracturing operations. An exploration of pumping rates used on these strings in operations also provides field-tested practical guidelines for avoiding erosion when performing annular fracturing jobs.
A CT string may be exposed to erosion in the outer surface during CT annular fracturing operations. The critical parameters that may influence the magnitude of erosion include fracturing pump rate, sand concentration, fluid rheology, wellbore geometry, and the grade of CT string. One measurable parameter to examine the string’s suitability is the wall thickness for each section. The CT strings discussed in the complete paper were sent for inspection to learn about the effect of the fracturing treatment. A series of nondestructive tests was conducted pre- and post-operation to evaluate the readiness of strings for subsequent operations. The complete paper includes two graphs related to the results of these tests.
The API 5ST specification requires using eddy current (EC) inspection for CT. With respect to API 5ST, quenched and tempered tubing had not been addressed at the time of this paper’s submission, so it is not clear whether the CT manufacturers employ EC techniques after quenching and tempering. However, it is expected that all tubing will be subject to EC inspection at least before any quenching and tempering operations.
Inspection methodology and equipment consistency is important to establish a baseline inspection necessary for subsequent comparisons. In the case of the CT strings used in this study, all were subject to EC inspection at tubing manufacturing and then subsequently inspected by an outside, third-party vendor using magnetic flux leakage (MFL) technology when spooling the strings on the unit. No known third-party EC vendors can inspect string lengths of CT, so MFL inspection is the only available solution. Photographs of CT inspections taken at the manufacturing facility and the service and distribution point are included in the paper.
Several commercial third-party inspection companies operate in North America, where this work was performed. Provided that the inspection can begin by identifying features in the calibration standard (often a through-drilled hole), the selection of inspection methodology is primarily a matter of preference for the service company and operator.