Technological innovations are the life-blood that keeps the oil and gas industry not just alive, but growing, albeit sometimes at a snail’s pace.
The current improved, yet still-struggling industry is testament to what technology can accomplish.
Significantly, the downturn appears to have motivated well service companies and others to work even more diligently than usual to introduce new and/or improved applications for efficient drilling and production, with an eye toward tweaking cost both for themselves and the operators who have been slammed in large part during the past couple of years.
Taking a quick look at some of the latest activity, it’s fitting to begin with this oilfield service provider, which has roots dating back more than 100 years prior to the 1987 merger of Baker Tools and Hughes Tool companies. Today, it’s widely reported to be on the brink of combining with GE’s Oil and Gas division to create a new industry giant.
The company announced earlier this year that its Integrity eXplorer Wireline Cement Evaluation Service received an Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Spotlight on New Technology award, which is presented to selected OTC exhibitors for the most innovative hardware and software technologies for offshore exploration and production. Wellbore integrity and zonal isolation are paramount for safe, productive oil and gas wells, according to Mariano Garguilo, vice president of wireline services at Baker Hughes. He noted, however, that existing acoustic-based cement evaluation techniques can’t always turn out the reliable information crucial to operators in the current complex environments.
“The Integrity eXplorer Service, which uses proprietary electromagnetic-acoustic transducer technology, sets a new standard for cement bond evaluation and enables operators to obtain comprehensive wellbore integrity answers,” he said.
This oilfield services behemoth apparently doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to addressing downhole needs and challenges. In May of this year, the company launched the industry’s highest-pull wireline conveyance system. Dubbed MaxPull, this high-pull system expands wireline capabilities to any well trajectory while reducing costs and risks, according to Schlumberger. The company noted that deep and highly deviated wells that present safety and logistics concerns or else weren’t previously wireline accessible are poised to benefit significantly from the use of an integrated wireline conveyance system such as MaxPull.
“Drillers can expect drill-pipe-free wireline operations in any environment with vertical well efficiency and minimum sticking risk,” said Hinda Gharbi, president of Wireline, Schlumberger.
This Halliburton business recently announced the release of the 9.5-inch Azimuthal Lithodensity (ALD) service to provide real-time density measurements and images in boreholes ranging up to 17.5 inches. The downhole density measurements, including high quality borehole image logs, help optimize wellbore placement through geosteering and reduce geological uncertainties, according to Sperry. The measurements are delivered via logging-while-drilling, eliminating pricey wireline conveyance runs, and they capture data immediately after drilling when the borehole is still a relatively pristine environment. The info provided by the 9.5 inch ALD service has myriad applications to help determine porosity of a formation, rock strength, pore pressure and borehole geometry.
According to Sperry Drilling Vice President Corey Walker, ALD addresses an important market need and is currently the only commercially available logging while drilling density service designed for large diameter boreholes.
“In areas like the Gulf of Mexico and other regions where large boreholes are common, we are well positioned to meet increasing demand,” Walker said.
GeoWave II was the industry’s first digital multi-level array specifically designed for high temperature, high-pressure wells. Initially announced by Sercel in late 2014, the array can acquire data continuously at temperatures as high as 405 degrees Fahrenheit. It is pressure rated to 25,000 psi/1,725 bar. It is optimized for seismic surveys and microseismic applications, according to the company, which noted that it is the most versatile tool, permitting operations downhole to be implemented in any well type having a diameter between 3 and 22 inches. It’s compatible with downhole tractor systems for deployment in exceedingly deviated and horizontal wells.
“The new GeoWave II is our response to the E&P industry’s growing need to deploy larger arrays in more hostile conditions for applications ranging from microseismic monitoring in deeper shale plays to 3-D VSP (vertical seismic profile) surveys in challenging environments,” said Sercel CEO Pascal Rouiller.
Early in October, Weatherford International announced the official launch of its Compact formation sampler, a slim profile wireline tool that can capture up to three 700 cubic centimeter samples in an expansive range of borehole sizes. The svelte profile separates the tool from other pressure-volume-temperature samplers on the market. It can be run past restrictions less than 3 inches and operate in boreholes as large as 14 inches. The self-centering design significantly reduces formation-sticking jeopardy, allows a more efficient and faster connection with target zones and makes it possible to deploy the tool on traditional wireline or through drill pipe, according to the company.
“By enabling a simpler and safer downhole deployment, the Compact formation sampler helps operators more assertively regain access to representative reservoir fluids,” said Olivier Muller, global vice president of wireline and testing services at Weatherford.
Chesapeake Energy Corp.
Given that shale continues to be a shining star lighting up the U.S. oil patch, it likely was no surprise to some operators when Chesapeake Energy Corp. recently spawned what is being touted in some quarters as the “era of the monster frac.” This so-called new era debuted with Chesapeake’s announcement that it set a record for fracturing when it Halliburton pumped more than 25,000 tons of sand proppant into a natural gas well in the Haynesville formation in north Louisiana, quickly dubbing it “propageddon.” Jason Pigott, vice president of operations at Chesapeake, noted that output from the well increased 70 percent over traditional fracturing techniques.
Pigott is on record as saying “what we’re doing is unleashing hell on every gas molecule downhole.”