drilling work at an oil rig

How Do Solid Expandable Tubulars Work in Frac Applications?

During routine drilling operations, re-entry, deepening of existing wells, or installing additional casing strings to address well issues, operators commonly encounter a significant reduction in inside diameter (ID).

A universal principle of casing design mandates each pipe must have enough capability to pass through the previous string. This has led to complications spanning from simple inconveniences to reserves depletion or premature well abandonment.

In response to this challenge, the industry has embraced innovative problem-solving approaches, pushing the boundaries of physics by adopting solid expandable tubular technology.

Solid expandable tubular technology has demonstrated its reliability through successful applications in diverse conditions and environments. It has established a reputation as an effective solution for various issues, including gas shut-off, subsidence repair, water shut-off, lost circulation, and the remediation of wells intended for abandonment.

As the technology continues to advance, it is contributing to the development of a single-diameter wellbore concept, wherein the casing diameter remains constant throughout the entire length of the well.

Keep reading as specialists at CNPS discuss more on the ongoing commitment to addressing operational challenges and enhancing the efficiency of well-related activities in the oil and gas industry.

Hydraulic Fracturing & Solid Expandable Tubulars: The Basic Principles

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a well-stimulation technique used in the oil and gas industry to extract hydrocarbons, such as natural gas and oil, from unconventional reservoirs or deep underground rock formations. This process involves injecting a high-pressure fluid into a wellbore to create fractures or fissures in the targeted rock formation, which allows the hydrocarbons to flow more freely and be extracted efficiently.

While hydraulic fracturing has significantly increased energy production, the technique has also been the subject of various concerns. Solid expandable tubulars represent a cutting-edge technology that has gained prominence in the oil and gas industry, particularly in hydraulic fracturing applications. These tubulars, also known as expandable casing, offer a dynamic and flexible solution to challenges associated with wellbore integrity and completion efficiency.

The Fundamental Components of Solid Expandable Tubulars

Base Pipe

The base pipe serves as the foundation of the solid expandable tubular. It is a seamless steel pipe with carefully chosen mechanical properties to withstand harsh downhole conditions, including high pressures and temperatures.

Material selection is critical, considering factors such as corrosion resistance, tensile strength, and compatibility with well fluids.

Expansion Cone

The expansion cone is a crucial component responsible for enlarging the diameter of the base pipe during the deployment process. It is strategically designed to apply radial forces evenly, ensuring uniform expansion.

The geometry and metallurgy of the expansion cone are pivotal in achieving controlled and precise expansion without compromising the tubular’s integrity.

Seal Assembly

In order to maintain wellbore integrity and prevent fluid migration between formations, a reliable seal assembly is incorporated into the design of a solid expandable tubular. This seal assembly often includes elastomers or metal-to-metal seals capable of withstanding challenging downhole conditions.

Effective sealing is essential for isolating different zones and preventing cross-contamination.

Solid Expandable Tubulars Can Be Deployed Using Various Methods

Mechanical Expansion

Mechanical expansion involves the use of specialized downhole tools to mechanically expand the tubular in situ. The tool typically includes an expansion cone that applies radial forces to the base pipe, causing it to plastically deform and increase its diameter. Mechanical expansion is well-suited for vertical and highly deviated wellbores.

Hydraulic Expansion

Hydraulic expansion relies on the application of hydraulic pressure to radially expand the tubular. This method is often preferred in horizontal wells, where the wellbore trajectory makes mechanical expansion challenging. Hydraulic expansion tools use hydraulic pistons to generate the required forces for controlled and uniform expansion.

Applications of Solid Expandable Tubulars in Hydraulic Fracturing: Maximizing Efficiency and Well Integrity

Zonal Isolation

Zonal isolation involves creating a barrier between different geological formations within the wellbore to prevent fluid migration and maintain control over reservoir management. Solid expandable tubulars excel in this application by providing a reliable and flexible solution.

When deployed in specific sections of the wellbore, solid expandable tubulars isolate different reservoir zones effectively. This is particularly critical in unconventional reservoirs where multiple formations may be present at varying depths.

By preventing unwanted fluid communication between these formations, operators can optimize production from individual zones, minimize interference, and maximize the recovery of hydrocarbons.

fiberglass pipes by CNPS

Casing Repair and Integrity Enhancement

Solid expandable tubulars play a crucial role in repairing damaged or compromised casing strings, addressing challenges related to wellbore integrity. Over the life of a well, various issues such as casing corrosion, mechanical damage, or cement degradation may compromise the structural integrity of the wellbore.

In such scenarios, instead of resorting to costly workovers or complete re-drilling, operators can deploy solid expandable tubulars to repair the damaged casing in situ. By expanding a new tubular within the existing casing, well integrity can be restored without the need for extensive interventions. This not only saves time and resources but also extends the productive life of the well.

Reach Extension in Horizontal Wells

Horizontal wells present unique challenges in terms of reaching and maintaining contact with the reservoir. Solid expandable tubulars provide an effective solution to extend the reach of the wellbore in horizontal sections. The ability to create a more efficient casing system in these challenging geometries contributes to improved reservoir drainage and enhanced overall well performance.

Reducing Environmental Impact

By minimizing the need for extensive casing and cementing, solid expandable tubulars reduce the volume of materials required for well construction. This not only lowers the environmental footprint but also addresses concerns related to the disposal of large quantities of cement and other construction materials.

Additionally, the efficient zonal isolation achieved by solid expandable tubulars helps in minimizing the risk of fluid migration and potential environmental contamination. The technology supports environmentally sustainable hydraulic fracturing practices, aligning with the industry’s increasing focus on responsible resource extraction.

Adaptability to Varying Well Conditions

Solid expandable tubulars exhibit a high degree of adaptability to varying well conditions, making them versatile tools for hydraulic fracturing applications. Whether deployed in vertical, horizontal, or highly deviated wells, these tubules can be tailored to specific wellbore geometries and reservoir characteristics.

Improved Well Integrity

Well integrity refers to the ability of a wellbore to maintain containment and isolation of fluids throughout its operational life. In hydraulic fracturing operations, maintaining well integrity is paramount to prevent fluid migration between different geological formations and ensure the efficient extraction of hydrocarbons.

Solid expandable tubulars contribute to improved well integrity through their unique design and deployment mechanisms. By creating a seamless and customized casing within the existing wellbore, the tubular acts as a robust barrier, preventing the unwanted migration of fluids between reservoir zones. This zonal isolation not only safeguards the integrity of individual formations but also enhances overall reservoir management.

Cost-Efficiency and Time Savings

While the initial costs associated with solid expandable tubulars may be higher than traditional casing methods, the technology often proves to be cost-effective over the life of a well. The advantages offered, such as reduced need for workovers, extended well life, and enhanced operational efficiency, contribute to long-term economic benefits.

The streamlined deployment process of solid expandable tubulars, especially in wellbores with complex geometries, can also result in significant time savings. Traditional interventions, such as re-drilling or extensive casing repairs, may involve prolonged downtime and increased operational costs. Solid expandable tubulars offer a more efficient alternative, minimizing disruptions to production schedules and contributing to overall cost-effectiveness.

equipment for oil and gas extraction  

Enhanced Safety

Safety considerations are paramount in the oil and gas industry, and solid expandable tubulars contribute to enhanced safety during hydraulic fracturing operations. The controlled and precise expansion process minimizes the need for extensive interventions in the wellbore, reducing the exposure of workers to potentially hazardous conditions.

The streamlined deployment of solid expandable tubulars also contributes to operational safety by minimizing the complexity of certain interventions. The technology’s reliability in providing zonal isolation and casing repair further enhances the overall safety profile of hydraulic fracturing operations.

Enhance the Overall Efficiency of Your Energy Projects with CNPS

CNPS offers the ultimate blend of traditional and innovative technologies and solutions for isolating, fracturing, perforating, and completing wells. Oil and gas companies worldwide trust their innovative energy solutions to optimize safety, efficiency, reservoir recovery, and production rates.

Request a quote for our cutting-edge oil and gas services and equipment, renewable energy solutions, and electronic products. We offer everything from mud logging sensors to GRE screen tubes, casing, storage tanks, and RTP & FRP products that stand the test of time.

Top of Form

Contact CNPS at sales@cnps.com or +86 183 546 39099 to learn more about our comprehensive oil and gas equipment solutions for elevating efficiency, enhancing well integrity, and shaping the future of energy extraction applications.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *