Pre-set or off-depth composite plugs can cause significant non-productive time for a well operator. In the past, fracturing operations using a composite frac or bridge plug that has been pre-set or set off depth required a coiled tubing unit or workover rig to drill the plug out. Then, the well operator could resume the fracturing job or access the wellbore below the plug. However, as this paper demonstrates, composite plug milling via wireline using a tractor and a tractor-based milling tool is a faster, safer, and more cost-effective solution.
In a shale well located in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, a composite frac plug was set off- depth. Prior to mobilizing the tractor-based solution to location, the operator attempted pumping approximately 60,000 pounds of sand to sand-cut the off-depth frac plug out of the well. The sand cutting, though, did not work because perforations above the frac plug took the sand. Other tubing-based solutions required more mobilization time and complex logistics for rigging down and/or moving equipment on location. Therefore, the operator chose a wireline-based method for ease of operation, reduced HSE risk, and cost savings.
The tractor took 50 minutes to drive down 1718 ft in the lateral to the plug. The milling tool milled the top slips on the frac plug in approximately nine hours, and the tractor then pushed the plug 222 ft downhole on top of the previous frac plug. The total time rigged up on the well was 14 hours, and the total time on location was 18 hours. Although this wireline-based plug-milling method takes several hours to mill a plug, the rig-up and execution is simpler than conventional methods, and associated HSE risks on the wellsite are greatly reduced.
The ability to effectively release plugs via wireline provides well operators with another option to complete their objectives, especially when tubing-based methods often take many days or weeks to mobilize at substantial cost to operators.