ABSTRACT:

Zonal isolation tools, including bridge plugs and straddle systems, using metal-to-metal sealing technology in place of conventional elastomers may radically challenge existing engineering philosophies by providing a pressure sealing system capable of exceeding the limitations of other existing sealing technologies and eliminating many traditional elastomeric failure modes. Metal-to-metal sealing technology is an innovative type of high expansion seal that uses expanding metal to form a high integrity pressure seal and incorporates an extraordinary seal performance envelope that cannot be achieved by conventional elastomeric seals. The seal design utilizes the controlled application of load to expand the metal seal to achieve a fully formed pressure barrier which allows for the metal-to-metal seal in bores of up to 160% of the original seal diameter. The metal-to-metal seal has the potential to change the way downhole equipment provides pressure integrity during pressure pumping operations. In the well servicing market, recent applications of the metal-to-metal seal and the latest lab testing have suggested the prospective of the technology for products for not only the offshore market but also in the hostile HPHT arena. Metal-to-metal sealing technology could make well suspensions and intervention possible in hostile HPHT wells that were previously deemed inoperable by the complete removal of elastomers from the design. Ideal for offshore and deepwater applications, metal-to-metal sealing devices can be easily deployed on slickline, electric wireline, coiled tubing, or drill pipe to save operator rig time in areas where cost savings are critical. Case studies of the high performance characteristics of the metal-to-metal sealing technology in terms of design, testing, and implementation will recognize the alignment to the increased demands of offshore applications

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