Dissolvable and degradable materials are used in oil and gas operations to create high pressures in hydraulically fractured wells, while also minimizing well intervention keeping wells flowing and preventing blockages. These materials are designed to withstand the high pressures and temperatures that are experienced during an application, and then gradually break down into tiny particles that do not need to be recovered. Because these materials naturally dissolve or degrade, operators are not required to run a wire line down the hole to drill them out — saving considerable time and reducing costs.
These innovative materials are gaining popularity in the oil and gas industry. As competition increases in the global energy market, producers seek technologies that will reduce costs and improve well efficiencies. It has been estimated that over the next two to three years, greater than 30 percent of well servicing and stimulation consumables will be dissolvable products (currently less than 10 percent).
Advantages of dissolvables and degradables
Dissolvable metals and degradable elastomers replace the traditional composite products used in completion operations and can be customized to the application, including diameter, composition, strength, and rate of dissolution for common wellbore fluids. More operators are using aluminum-based materials because they are stronger than magnesium alloys, allowing much smaller overlaps (1.8 percent) in ball and seat applications. Thermoplastic elastomers have consistent high tensile strength and elongations for ambient and elevated temperatures, which provides customers with consistent performance over a wide range of temperatures. Parker’s degradable elastomers can be custom designed providing specific engineered shapes meeting the customer’s needs.
Advantages of dissolvables and degradables include:
- Reduced operating costs. Less well intervention is required (no need to drill out), which also reduces the risk of damage to the casing.
- Faster path to production of the well. Dissolvable materials can be formulated to allow for production to begin in as little as 48 hours after deployment, with no need to wait for a coil line crew.
- High product performance to improve the overall completion performance of the well. Degradable materials can be used for pressures exceeding 10Ksi and temperatures exceeding 200°F, providing ideal frac conditions.
- Highly engineered products that can be processed via multiple methods to produce desired shape. Parker provides multiple processing capabilities to produce products that can meet the specific needs of individual wells.
- Opportunity for dual material use for product performance. A wide range of material offerings allows for combined use—for example, elastomer and thermoplastic can be bonded to the aluminum or used in combination.
Dissolvable metals and degradable thermoplastics and elastomers must perform in harsh, corrosive down-hole environments in oil and gas wells. Parker’s dissolvable and degradable products are made with metal, thermoplastics, and thermosets (elastomers), providing operators with a wider range of material options. For example, Parker offers frac balls in delayed-reaction coatings such as Teflon, nickel, and epoxy. Our 94-Series provides a smooth C2-inhibitive coating with no cracks, rough spots, or nodules, which reduces corrosion and extends life cycle.
Because of our comprehensive range of material offerings, Parker can be an operator’s single provider of dissolvable products, allowing customers to reduce their vendor base. Parker also provides customers with inventory management options, further streamlining operations. Proprietary rate of dissolution (ROD) calculators are derived from broad-spectrum dissolution testing on our dissolvable metal products and are a handy tool for optimizing frac design and product selection for specific well conditions.
Parker engineers work with oil and gas design teams around the world to customize dissolvable and degradable materials for specific applications. Our proprietary materials are compounded in-house; this also allows us to provide quick-turn delivery production orders and sample requests in a matter of days, including optical inspection to ensure tight tolerances, custom labeling, laser marking, and packaging services.
Parker’s dedicated oil and gas sealing experts, dedicated development labs, and processing equipment are at the forefront of emerging applications for dissolvable/degradable technologies in the energy field. For more information, or to discuss your project needs with a Parker engineer, visit us at OTC, booth #3639. Not attending? Visit our webpage to learn more about our high-performance sealing materials for oil and gas applications.
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This article was contributed by Dana Severson, regional sales manager - oil & gas, Engineered Materials Group, Parker Hannifin.