Shale plays have become a dominant source for oil and gas production in the United States and in other global areas. There also has been a dramatic increase in the number of horizontal wells being drilled in these plays as well as in the lateral lengths. Unfortunately, horizontal wells can create massive compressive and bending forces that increase the likelihood of damage to downhole tools. Challenges in running completion equipment to the target depths in the Bakken Shale when multi-stage fracturing operations are planned has also been challenging. This paper will discuss the use of expandable liner hangers (ELHs) and how they have been capable of meeting some of the Bakken Shale challenges.
Challenges when completing long horizontals are centered around large compressive loads, including the ability to get the string to bottom and the performance of downhole tools such as liner hangers. Expandable liner hangers have resolved some of these problems, since the ELH systems integrate the liner hanger, packer, and tieback receptacle into a single unit and can provide simpler operations with fewer trips into the hole. The ELH does not rely upon cement above the liner top to provide an efficient seal, since no slips are used to hang the liner. Instead, multiple elastomeric bands support the liner weight and supply redundant gas-tight seals. Although not yet a widely understood technology, high compression ELH completions have increased reliability, safety, and profitability in the Bakken shale, and this has led to the significant increase in its use.
High-compression expandable liner hanger (ELH) runs in the Bakken Shale have shown consistent superior performance, specifically the ability to handle massive loads when pushing strings to TD. This paper disseminates technical information to increase operator awareness of how this technology can improve completions in the still relatively new area of drilling in US shale plays. This paper also discusses how this technology provides needed solutions for safely delivering the completion string to TD and accurately placing completion equipment with flexibility and reliability.