In many gas lift systems, dummy valves are loaded in side-pocket mandrels to isolate the annulus from the tubing where pressurization is required to test the tubing, test the annulus, set a hydraulic packer, or activate an isolation device. If the well then requires gas lift to unload the completion fluid or to assist the well to flow, slickline intervention would be required to remove the dummy valves and install the live gas lift string. This can be a long, cumbersome process and can pose risks to existing infrastructure. Production is also delayed while a new live valve unit is installed.

This paper presents a smart gas lift valve with disintegrable nanostructured composite material technology. The valve is installed in the well to function as a dummy valve during completion operations. It is converted from a dummy valve to a live valve through in-situ disintegration of the nanostructured composite plug in brine during the cleanup process. This eliminates multiple slickline trips or well intervention after the completion, and enables unloading and immediate production of these wells under optimized gas lift conditions.

The nanostructured composite material for the smart plug is lighter than aluminum but as strong as some mild steels. The smart plug has pressure rating of 5,000 psi or higher and will disintegrate in sea water within 12 to 50 hours, making it an ideal tool for offshore gas lift applications. So far, more than 1,000 gas lift valves equipped with disintegrable nanostructured composite plugs have been installed in gas lift wells producing offshore Southeast Asia. The nanostructured composite material, the valve design, the lab test data and a successful field case history will be presented.

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