As the search for oil and gas moves farther offshore, there is an increasing need for materials and components that can survive these hostile environments. 3M technologies are engineered to withstand harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures and crushing pressures – helping extend equipment life and enhancing production efficiency, performance and reliability.
Ingredient Technologies for Oil and Gas Production Efficiency
Strength Under Pressure
3M™ Glass Bubbles are high-strength, lightweight additives used to increase buoyancy and help pipelines and equipment survive as drillers push the industry to new depths. As subsea networks become more prevalent, and as drillers push into deepwater and high pressure high temperature (HPHT) conditions, pipe and flowlines also encounter new problems. At low water temperatures, ice-like gas hydrates, asphaltenes and waxes can form quickly, blocking pipes and causing serious flow assurance issues.
At new depths of 3,000m, many traditional solutions are too costly or ineffective. Although layered pipe-in-pipe solutions offer the best insulation and longest cool-down times, their weight and bulk mean they can be more difficult and costly to lay, and too heavy to support in deeper waters – a particular concern for risers.
As an alternative, wet insulated pipe – consisting of a single pipe coated with syntactic foam insulation filled with 3M Glass Bubbles – is less than half the weight of pipe-in-pipe. This makes it far more practical for use at greater depths and in longer runs, but with comparable performance in terms of overall heat loss. Greater flexibility allows for reeled pipe to be laid rather than field jointing short rigid sections which is expensive and can result in integrity failures.
The petroleum industry spends millions of dollars each year to manage produced sand and work over blocked wells to restore lost production. While conventional metallic screens are effective in many sand control applications, they are also prone to early failure due to erosion. Now, a breakthrough ceramic-based technology from 3M offers a more durable sand control solution for unconsolidated formations and where proppant flowback poses a risk. 3M™ Ceramic Sand Screens are highly resistant to erosion and hot spotting that may plague even premium metallic screens under high-pressure, high-temperature conditions.
3M ceramic sand screens offer a major improvement over standard wire wrap screens by taking advantage of the unique properties of technical ceramics to extend equipment life in harsh environments. Twice as stiff and over 10 times as hard as metallic screens, 3M ceramic sand screens offer exceptional wear resistance even when exposed to hard metal grit or sand under high velocity flows. With excellent corrosion resistance and temperature stability, they are suitable for use even under extreme conditions with sour or hostile well fluids and temperatures up to 200ºC.
From formations prone to sand production to subsea environments where workover is logistically difficult, 3M ceramic sand screen systems provide an easily integrated and reliable solution that helps mitigate deployment and operational risks. They have been successfully deployed in new and retrofitted wells, helping oil and gas exploration and production companies minimize downtime – and maximize production capacity over the entire well lifecycle.
Perfluoroelastomers (PFE) are gaining a wider acceptance and necessity in the transportation, CPI, and oil and gas markets because of the increasingly demanding application environments. The high cost of these materials may be a barrier for many applications. However, PFE is now positioned within many markets in which FKM was 35 years ago. While expensive compared to other materials, it is often chosen because other materials were unsuccessful. Costs associated with the PFE use in desired applications are in line with the expected benefits gained from the efficacy of the final material solution.
3M™ glass bubbles are engineered hollow glass spheres that can be used as a density reducing additive in down-hole applications such as drilling, completion and/or maintenance of a well to reduce and control bottom-hole pressure, enabling at balance, near balance or under balance conditions. A reduced-density control fluid made with 3M™ glass bubbles is ideal for use in depleted reservoirs, as well as geologically-fractured, poorly-consolidated and/or highly permeable formations, where the reduction of differential pressure can result in reduction or elimination of fluid loss/lost circulation, formation damage and differential sticking.
To achieve at balance, near balance or under balance conditions, a control fluid’s weight (or density) needs to be carefully adjusted. 3M™ glass bubbles may be used to reduce weight; significantly or just slightly. As an engineered material, not only do they have the highest strength-to-weight ratio they also have a density that is precise and consistent, making them ideal for fine tuning a control fluid’s weight. 3M™ Glass Bubbles successfully and predictably reduce the density of any control fluid, including drilling, completion and work over fluids, as well as spacers and cement slurries, offering the potential to reduce costs and improve performance.
A reduced-density control fluid made with 3M™ glass bubbles is an effective and economical alternative solution to aerated drilling fluids. It is homogeneous, incompressible, and stable. In spite of the benefits gained by overcoming overbalance conditions, several concerns exist with aerated fluids*; for instance aerated fluids are compressible, require complex hydraulic calculations, generate drill string vibration and signal attenuation while drilling, as well as increase the overall cost because of the need for specialized resources.
(*) Source: Maurer, W. et al (2001) Development and Testing of Underbalanced Drilling Products, DOE Contract No. DE-AC21-94MC31197
Lightweight insulation with 3M™ Glass Bubbles for ultra-deep offshore pipelines
With crushing pressures and the extreme cold of deepwater operations, offshore drilling may seem an unlikely application for hollow glass spheres. But high-strength, low-density 3M™ Glass Bubbles, used to enhance the performance of syntactic foams, are engineered to survive even the most demanding undersea conditions – while protecting valuable equipment and helping ensure reliable product flow.