Subsurface Sealing of Tubing Thread Leaks
- Martin E. True (Humble Oil & Refining Co.) | W.M. O'Reilly (Humble Oil & Refining Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1957
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 67 - 69
- 1957. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 3 Production and Well Operations, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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A technique, equipment, and a compound have been developed and field tested for sealing tubing joint thread leaks without removing the tubing from the well. This eliminates the necessity of killing the well with possible damage to the producing formation, which could result if it were exposed to drilling mud. A thread sealing compound, developed and tested in the laboratory, is introduced into the tubing and squeezed into the joint to eliminate the leak. A high percentage of successful field applications have effected an appreciable cost reduction in repairing leaking tubing strings in East Texas and in the Louisiana Gulf Coast area.
In producing oil and gas wells the industry has been plagued with a never ending problem of tubing connection leakage. This situation is becoming increasingly more significant as more gas wells are placed on production and as higher pressures are encountered at greater depths of current drilling.
Substantial progress has been made in minimizing thread leaks by careful handling and cleaning of joints and by the use of improved sealing compounds in combination with controlled makeup. But even with the use of the best known methods and sealing materials during initial makeup, occasional leaks through tubing joint threads appear inevitable. In some instances, tubing joints in high-pressure gas wells have been found to leak gas at relatively less pressure than that at which the tubing had been tested satisfactorily using liquid.
Many expedients have been employed to prevent the physical replacement of tubing when leaks have developed. Perhaps the most commonly used is the sodium silicate treatment in which the solution is lubricated into the tubing to form a crystalline plug in the leak. Generally, any benefit realized is of a temporary nature.
In addition to field studies on handling and makeup of tubing, extensive laboratory work has been undertaken on the development and testing of thread dopes. Also, substantial effort has been devoted to testing tubing joints using high-pressure gas as a pressure medium. The results of this work have emphasized that tubing joints are susceptible to occasional leaks, especially when subjected to relatively high differential pressures.
To cope with the problem of leaking connections, an extensive investigation was undertaken to devise means of sealing leaks without removing the tubing from the well and without reducing the inside diameter of the tubing. The purpose of this paper is to present a technique, together with the associated equipment and compound, which have been developed for effecting a seal of leaking tubing in place.
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