By April 6, 2015 Read More →

New frack plug cuts mill out times in half – Weatherford

Eagle Ford operator reduced mill-out time to 10.5 minutes per frack plug from industry average of 25 minutes

Time is money, and time spent drilling frack plugs is wasted. The new Weatherford TruFrac composite frack plug is designed to be milled out in half the time of a normal plug.

frack plug

Weatherford TruFrac Composite Frac Plug. Photo: Weatherford International.

The new frack plug was announced at the 2015 Intervention and Coiled Tubing Association (ICoTA) Conference and Exhibition. It was designed to maximize the efficiency of plug-and-perf completion operations by reducing time on location, according to Matthew Crump, product line manager for Composite Plugs at Weatherford.

“It’s used in multi-stage plug-and-perf completions, where the customer is interested in isolating and stimulating individual zones in their wells,” said Crump in an interview.

“The plug is pumped down on wire line, and then set and designed to hold up to 10,000 PSI of pressure.”

According to Weatherford, because of its reliable sealing capability, the frack plug is rated for use in environments with temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius). As well, the product can be used in single and multiple-zone stimulation operations in vertical, deviated, horizontal, and multilateral wells.

“The TruFrac composite plug has been optimized to provide one of the shortest, smoothest plugs,” said Mark Hopmann, Vice-President of Completions at Weatherford in a press release.

Hopmann says that the technology also offers improved anchoring and sealing compared to traditional plugs, increasing reliability, and mitigating risk in plug-and-perf operations.

“This results in faster run in-times and reduced mill-out times due to the plugs’ limited metal content and reduced cutting size which allows a cleaner well.”

Crump explains that when Weatherford was looking to design its next generation of composite plugs, there were three things it was focused on: Being able to quickly run the plug in, for it to hold and set the pressure that it’s rated to, and quick mill out times with small pieces that are easily circulated out of the operation.

“With TruFrac, we started with the element technology [the elements which provide the seal to hold the frack back],” Crump said. “We really optimized the length of the element to make it as short as possible, and we also focused on giving the element as completely smooth on the OD of the plug as possible.”

If there are any kind of lips or exposed parts in the element system, they could cause problems when you’re pumping them into a well, so Crump says that the, “result is what we call a chrome-molded element, that has a composite back up system molded directly into the rubber of the element seal.”

“When you set the element, and the frack plug is set in place, the composite backup structure flares out with the rubber, touches the casing, and basically holds the rubber in place as the plug seize the pressure.”

With the price of oil dropping in the last six months, companies have been looking to cut costs, which has been an important driver in businesses adopting Weatherford’s technology.

“85 per cent of the wells in the US are still completed with plug-and-perf methodology, and with that, there’s less risk,” Crump said. “With a reduction in costs and intervention costs, people are switching from sleeve completions over to plug-and-perf.”

Even though the market for plug-and-perf is going down, Crump says that it is going down at a slower rate than the overall market because, “we have some people who are switching from other completion types to plug-and-perf.”

Is the fact that the TruFrac plug can reduce milling time on a well a significant cost saver for clients?

“The design of TruFrac allows [clients] when they’re milling out these plugs on coil to save 10-15 minutes per plug and over 40 plug that’s not an insignificant time saving.” Crump said. “It may save a day’s worth of coil tubing that could cost between $10,000 – $30,000.”

The frack plug recently helped a client in the Eagle Ford reduce mill-out time to an average of 10.5 minutes per plug from the industry average of 25 minutes per plug, which enabled the operator to accelerate the plug-and-perf operation to begin producing the well faster.

“We had a real result in the Eagle Ford,” said Crump. “Then, because the cuttings were so small [the company] didn’t have to spend time cleaning the wells, and making short trips with their coil, which also saved time.”

To date, Weatherford says it has successfully deployed more than 12,000 plugs with 99.98 per cent reliability.

Posted in: Innovation

Comments are closed.