Platelet-Technology Applications Provide Economic Remedy for Well-Integrity Problems
- Kevin Stewart (Brinker Technology)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 2010
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 26 - 27
- 2010. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Up to 40% of the world’s oil wells are shut in, or operating with dispensation, because of well-integrity problems. With the proportion that large, these wells collectively represent major potential for increasing production to meet oil demand—growing globally each year by 1 million BOPD—if improved and more-economic remedies for these problems can be found. Better remedies can reduce the need to drill new wells.
With the right technology, leaks in casing, tubing, well valves, and connections can be diagnosed relatively easily. However, fixing them has traditionally been more difficult. Issues typically have included cost, availability of rigs or workover units, personnel requirements, leak-fixing processes, weather, and third-party dependencies. These various considerations can result in extended and long lead times to bring shut-in wells back on line or indefinite postponement of needed interventions on wells that are operating.
There are also significant planning and logistics issues, and lengthy down-time can result. Well output could be partially or totally lost for months—affecting production quotas and revenue targets—before a rig is mobilized and deployed. And rig workovers can be complex and risky. Removing a well-head during a workover, for example, could affect well integrity and bring about health, safety, and environment (HSE) risks bigger than the problems the workover is intended to remedy.
Brinker Technology has recently developed a system called Platelets, a rigless, through-wellhead workover technology that allows the major planning, logistical, and downtime issues of traditional work-overs to be avoided and commensurate cost savings to be achieved.
In concept, the technology functions similarly to the way the human body responds to cuts and wounds, where platelets in the blood are drawn to the cut and create a seal. The oil and gas technology is designed around free-floating, discrete particles conveyed by means of an inert carrier fluid. The platelets deployed in this technology are specifically engineered for the size of the leak and the operating conditions of the system. Platelets are pumped down-stream while suspended in the carrier fluid and, when they reach a leak, pressure-differential forces entrain them into the defect to create a mechanical seal (Fig. 1). The polymeric and elastomeric materials incorporated in the platelet technology produce a seal more durable than steel and have no negative effects on the treated infrastructure.
The platelet technology previously has been applied in subsea pipelines and water-injection systems. Its applications have now been extended to casing, tubing, well valves, and connections. The technology includes specific designs for both static- and dynamic-sealing applications. Additionally, by incorporating specially designed software, the technology can be used diagnostically to locate leaks (Fig. 2).
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