This case-history paper presents hardware and a method to enable pumping frac plugs and bridge plugs into horizontal wells, using substantially less fluid than used by conventional pumpdown means. Cases presented are from operations in the Barnett Shale formation of north Texas.

The system presented was developed in response to (1) the need to conserve well fluids used and (2) high pumping rates needed to pump frac plugs and bridge plugs to setting depths in horizontal holes. Fluids bypassing the plug without exerting enough push on the plug necessitated application of high pump rates and total fluid volumes.

Advantages of (1) using new sealing methods to reduce fluid requirements, and (2) following a set of procedures to pump plugs to the setting depth in horizontal wells are numerous:

  • Total volume of water needed is greatly reduced.

  • Lower pumping rates allow for the use of wireline when tight formations are encountered.

  • Precludes the requirement to bring in more expensive and time-consuming methods of placing the plugs to depth, such as hydraulic tractors or coiled tubing units.

  • Saves time and fluid costs.

  • Reduces chances of damaging reservoirs with excess pumpdown fluid.

  • Fluid flow around the sealing device provides a jetting action ahead of the tool to disperse sand and debris ahead of the plug in horizontal casing, based on field experience.

  • As compared to that of hydraulic tractors, the system enables high travel rate for wireline, up to 150 ft/min.

The paper presents procedures for running plug-sealing devices that reduce the bypass of fluid between the plug and casing wall. The system has been in use for about 1 year; field experience, lessons learned, and application tips are also presented.

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