Sealing technologies provide a vital role in a wide range of applications no more so than in the design and development of Retrievable Bridge Plugs (RBP) where performance is a vital safety and operational consideration. Moreover, for workover operations using RBPs it is also essential that deployment and recovery are equally as reliable as the pressure and temperature performance of the plug.
Traditional retrievable bridge plugs based on solid elastomeric seals have been the mainstay of well intervention since the 1940’s. However, the long-term shift towards gas production, higher pressures, higher temperatures and increased regulatory standards means these systems can no longer provide the performance the industry demands. New innovative technologies are needed to bridge this gap and this paper provides evidence of once such technology with the potential to service the next era of exploration and production. The paper explores some of the operational and practical limitations of traditional solid elastomer sealing technology for RBPs and introduces a new type of hybrid metal-polymer seal offering significantly improved sealing performance, larger running clearances and enhanced reliability. The new seal technology is described alongside experimental data on the seal’s performance and operational configuration.