Enhancing Results: Solid Expandable Tubulars Facilitate High-Temperature Oil Recovery
The energy industry is leaving few stones unturned to access even the most challenging sources of viable hydrocarbons—oil shale, tar sands, and heavy oil. Recovery methods that use steam provide a cost-effective and reliable approach to developing these unconventional energy sources. The viability of these thermal operations to facilitate extraction hinges on implementing enabling technologies such as solid expandable tubulars.
Expandable systems provide high-temperature repair without a substantial sacrifice in hole size. As the system expands, the pipe’s permanent deformation creates an energized seal to case off damaged and/or parted tubulars. While conventional expandable systems were rated to 204°C (400°F), application of new expandable sealing elements has increased the operating envelope to 270°C (518°F).
Although thermal production operations, particularly steam injection, are costly, they provide a most efficient and reliable process for recovery. One obstacle to reliability has been the assurance of successful repair performance under the associated high temperatures and stresses incurred with these operations. The development and qualification of a solid expandable system utilizing a non-metallic seal to withstand high temperatures addresses this challenge.
This paper describes how solid expandable technology has evolved to address the challenges of developing systems to facilitate high-temperature wells. The testing protocol that enabled the successful development of solid expandable system enhancements will be discussed. This paper also explains how solid expandable systems integrate with other enabling technologies to facilitate recovery operations. Case studies of solid expandable applications provide comparative results and describe the value added to these projects.