Texas forum to highlight use of non-metallic materials in oilfield operations


-HOUSTON, TX – The US is now leading global markets in developing unconventional sources of gas and oil, and production of crude oil in 2014 rose to around 8 million barrels per day with gas at 10 billion cu ft per day. Thermoplastics, elastomers and composite materials supply unique properties for oilfield operations and are vital to the function and integrity of many structures including risers, cables, chemical and corrosion-resistant coatings in steel structures, pipelines, seals, composite platforms, pumps, zonal isolation technology, swellable packers and blow-out preventers. Oil & Gas Polymer Engineering Texas 2015, a forum organised by Pennsylvania-headquartered AMI LLC, is bringing together oilfield operators, contractors, equipment and component manufacturers, researchers and the supply chain to examine the use of non-metallic materials. The event will take place June 9-10, 2015 at the Hilton Houston Post Oak in Houston, Texas.

Extreme conditions of temperature and pressure combine with chemical exposure (drilling fluids, sour gas) down hole. Standards committees have developed testing specifications to qualify components for performance in specific applications and research is supplying critical insights to minimise risks and maximise reliability. Solvay Specialty Polymers has tested its PEEK materials for severe sour service beyond the Norsok M-710 Norwegian standard. SKF has qualified elastomeric seals for high pressure applications, while Baker Hughes has used compressive stress relaxation (CSR) as a method of testing seals for high temperature service and Greene, Tweed & Co. has developed seals for enhanced recovery and heavy oil extraction.

As oil is extracted in ever harsher drilling conditions new challenges arise. Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures invests in research into new opportunities for polymer materials in the oil sands of Canada. Meanwhile in South America, the PDVSA INTEVEP Company in Venezuela is testing polymers for use in the Orinoco belt heavy oil fields. The Akron Rubber Development Laboratory has reviewed the variations in nitrile elastomers in downhole drilling applications looking at testing results and failure analysis. Coatings are essential for corrosion protection of metals: RTConsults is involved with inspections and Case Western Reserve University – Petro Case Consortium has developed new nanostructured coatings.

Supercritical CO2 exposure is increasingly common for materials downhole. Schlumberger has studied the swelling of elastomers in a CO2 environment and Cameron has looked at elastomer resistance to rapid gas decompression alongside the solubility and diffusivity of CO2. In a separate study scientists at Schlumerger have looked at the behaviour of elastomeric water-swellable packers, which are highly loaded with superabsorbent polymers, and the effects of mechanical constraints on performance.

Oil and gas pipelines are the subject of numerous studies from new coatings to the use of alternate composite materials. In one innovation Hexagon Lincoln composites has developed a CNG mobile pipeline, while GE Oil & Gas has a flexible fibre reinforced pipe for use in ultra-deepwater. Shawcor leads in steel pipe protection coatings and has looked at the full scale validation testing of insulation. Composites are being used in the repair of pipelines and Stress Engineering Services is examining the long-term performance of these systems on high pressure pipelines. Rehabilitation is a much more economic solution than full pipeline replacement – Anticorrosion Protective Systems has implemented technology for subsea hydrocarbon pipelines.

The fracking process has brought new material challenges. Downhole Composites has patented frac plug designs to meet the industry needs and Rockwell Oil and Gas Sales has developed a range of degradable polymer materials, which can perform a function and then degrade rather than requiring recovery. Invista has recently introduced an innovative Raptor nylon pipe for oilfield service at pressures up to 500 PSI and temperatures to 200°F (93°C).