This paper provides laboratory and field-test results of a thermally compensated fluid-inflated packer system. This system greatly reduces the chance of sealing-element failure when inflatable packers or plugs are used where the borehole fluid changes temperature more than 50° F (10°C). To date, a primary cause of failure in achieving zonal isolation while using inflatable packers and plugs is the change in temperature of the borehole and inflation fluids once the packer is set. Thermally compensated inflatable packers are an innovation in nflatable packer technology. These packers act in a manner unlike conventional inflatables, which are susceptible to temperature changes as little as 50° F (10°C) between borehole and internal fluids. These temperature changes can cause the fluids inside conventional inflatable packers either to expand and rupture the element or to contract and cause the element to lose its seal on the casing wall. Qualification tests and resulting data will be presented as well as data acquired after a thermally compensated inflatable plug system was deployed in a water injection well. Possible applications include those in which a fluid inflatable packer, straddle acker, or plug would be used and subjected to temperature changes in excess of 50° F (10°C).
The introduction of thermally compensated inflatable packers offers a more technically effective, economical means of zonal isolation in almost any cased-hole application. This technology is equally applicable for openhole applications.