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New Packer and Safety Valve Concepts for Ultra High Pressure and Ultra
High Temperature Test and Production Wells
Dan Taylor, Halliburton

Copyright 2012, Offshore Technology Conference


This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 30 April3 May 2012.
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of OTC copyright.

Abstract
As operators continue to uncover new hydrocarbon reservoirs, they are finding that there are a growing number of
opportunities for new developments in ultra high-pressure, high-temperature (UHPHT) formations beyond 400F and up to
30,000 psi. However, if these new areas are to be successfully exploited, new equipment must be developed that will
maintain integrity for these conditions.
This paper looks at issues surrounding the development of fit-for-purpose drill-stem-testing (DST) completion solutions
as well as the development of long-term UHPHT production packers and safety valves. This equipment requires appropriate
metallurgical and elastomeric selection, and this will include not only conventional oilfield materials qualified to higher
parameters for short-term test applications, but qualification of new materials for long-term applications that will require
cyclic load testing for a 30-year well life. In addition, setting methods with the forces needed to affect a high-pressure seal
and dynamic sealing systems will be required that can provide pressure integrity and prevent tubing overloads. Consideration
for design requirements such as maximized IDs through the packers will be needed as well.
The discussion will include:
Completion equipment that is already available to the industry for these conditions
Equipment being developed currently to meet the new requirements
Test methods and qualification requirements for validation of such equipment
Requirements for environmental, personnel, and regulatory standards as well as safety.
Introduction
With the ever increasing global demand for hydrocarbons, the oil and gas industry is being challenged to explore and develop
deeper and hotter reservoirs, pushing the boundaries of equipment capabilities ever further into the extreme and ultra-extreme
HPHT arenas from the traditional standard and HPHT environments. Figure 1 illustrates the evolution of this progress and
provides one definition of the various HPHT environments.
While there are many equipment components that will be needed in order to explore and develop these horizons, two of
the most critical safety components are the tubing retrievable safety valve (TRSV) and the packer. The design of these tools
must balance two conflicting aspects of UHPHT completions. The first concerns the fact that the exploitation of deep HPHT
horizons involves considerable investment, and therefore, maximization of production is required to justify this investment.
With extreme temperatures limiting the period of time perforating guns can be in the well prior to firing (Hahn et al., 2005),
installation operations can dictate the use of wireline-conveyed perforating guns, necessitating the maximization of the
completion inside diameter (ID) to run and retrieve these guns. For relatively lower temperatures, perforating guns can be run
with the completion below the packer and fired once the completion is landed and tested. In this scenario, maximizing
production flow rate will continue to require maximizing the IDs of the TRSV and packer.
The second aspect to the design of these tools (as well as all casings and tubulars) is that higher temperatures reduce
material yield-strength ratings. Coupled with the need to contain the high pressures, these two factors drive the need for
increased wall thickness, which reduces the IDs.

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Fig. 1 - HPHT Regimes and Projects

Figure 2 TRSV Operating Envelope 7.57-in. OD X 3.688-in. ID, H2S 20K

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The outcome is that the OD/ID ratios of this equipment will tend to be larger than for lower temperature and pressure
equipment, and in combination with the tubing selection process, this fact will often result in tubing-limited vertical-flow
performance (Harris et al., 2005).
The above addresses only the design strength of the equipment. Of equally critical importance is the capability of the
metallurgy and elastomers to withstand the anticipated downhole conditions for the life of the well, including thermal cycling
(leading to force reversals or tubing movement), water, H2S and CO2 production in the hydrocarbon stream, plus any other
wellbore fluids such as completion brines and stimulation fluids to which the equipment will be exposed.
Existing Equipment
TRSVs
One equipment vendor currently has TRSVs rated to 20 ksi and 400 to 450F in the 2 7/8-in. (5.495-in. OD and 2.313-in. ID),
3-in. (6.52-in. OD and 2.562-in. ID) and 4 -in. (7.57-in. OD and 3.688-in. ID) sizes. The operating envelope of the 4 -in.
TRSV (not pressure-rating limited by thread connection) is shown in Figure 2. The reduction in the operating envelope due
to the increased temperature can clearly be seen by comparing the dashed blue line (450F) to the solid red line (ambient
temperature).
Packers
For exploration, the same equipment vendor has recently developed 15 ksi / 500F seal bore packers for 9 7/8-in., 66.9#
casing with a 5.750-in. ID (See Figure 3 for operating envelope) and for 7-in.-35 to 38# casing with a 3.500-in. ID (see
Figure 4 for operating envelope). At the time of writing of this paper, these packers were scheduled to be run on a Malaysian
DST in April of 2012.
A hydrostatic-set permanent production packer for 7-in., 75.4# casing with a 2.330-in. ID is rated for the higher pressure
of 20 ksi but a lower temperature of 450F. See Figure 5 for the operating envelope. This packer has a running OD of 4.375in. and graphically illustrates the reduction in ID of both the casing string and the packer required by the UHPHT conditions.
Of interest is that this packer uses a relatively new alloy rated to UNS N09945 material with a minimum yield of 140 ksi.

Figure 3 - Packer Operating Envelope 9 7/8-in.-66.9# X 5.750-in. ID 15K 500F

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Figure 4 - Packer Operating Envelope 7-in. 35 to 38# X 3.500 ID 15K 500F

Figure 5 - Packer Operating Envelope 7-in.-75.4# X 2.330 ID 25K 450F

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Latest Requirements
Until recently, design verification (analysis) and validation (testing) requirements for HPHT equipment primarily have been
conducted by companies to their own (sometimes proprietary) methodologies. These methodologies may be based on ASME
BPVC Section VIII, Division 2 or Division 3 (ASME, 2004). For a detailed discussion on the requirements of this code, the
reader should refer to SPE 97595 (Young, K. et al., 2005). Much more recently, the API Technical Report PER15K-1
(American Petroleum Institute, 2012) will be issued to give operators and suppliers a general protocol for verification and
validation of HPHT equipment. The report looks at the requirements of the functional specifications, technical specifications
and material issues to be considered in detail when specifying, developing, and manufacturing HPHT equipment.
In particular, the functional specification considers environmental conditions (temperature, exposed fluids,
corrosion/erosion allowance requirements, and operational environment), specified loads and characteristics (pressure,
thermal loads, external loads, cyclic loading, combined loading, stress analysis and system integration including load transfer
between components), life-cycle loading (including pressure, thermal, discontinuity and residual stresses, sequence of loads
and combined loading), and applicable industry standards and regulatory requirements.
API TR PER15K-1 recommends that the technical specification shows conformance to the functional specifications and
includes the design verification analysis, validation program requirements, performance capabilities, as well as demonstrates
that the equipment is fit-for-service.
A requirement for equipment installed in the United States Outer Continental Shelf has been added to the Federal Code of
Regulations. 30CFR250.807 was recently added to define additional requirements for equipment exposed to HPHT
conditions. Specifically, section 250.807 requires operators to provide supporting design verification information including:
1. A discussion of the SSSVs and related equipments design verification analysis
2. A discussion of the SSSVs and related equipments design validation, functional testing process, and procedures
used.
3. An explanation of why the analysis, process, and procedures can ensure that the SSSV and related equipment are
fit-for-service for the applicable HPHT environment.
The definition of related equipment includes many items normally used in the completion of oil and gas wells. In addition
to the changes in the CFR, ISO 10432 for SSSVs is currently in revision to:
Strengthen the guidelines for preparation of a functional specification for ordering of equipment
Add new design verification and validation guidelines
Clarify procedures in areas such as design methodology and verification.
The two documents should provide personnel involved in HPHT projects with a clear understanding of the processes
involved and requirements necessary to obtain equipment that will perform safely and maintain integrity in the environment
to which it will be subjected.
Metallurgical Selection
One of the most critical decisions in the design process is the selection of materials from which the equipment is to be
manufactured. Because HPHT wells usually contain relatively high levels of CO2 (Marsh, J. et al., 2010), and because even
low amounts of H2S will give the partial pressure necessary to require sour service material, carbon steels are generally not an
option. The phenomenon of material strength property reducing with increasing temperature also eliminates the use of carbon
steels in many cases, as their strength reduces with increasing temperature at a greater rate than corrosion-resistant alloy
(CRA) materials.
Due to the changing mechanical properties at high temperatures, the classical elastic analysis on thin-walled crosssectional material is no longer valid and should be replaced with elastic-plastic analysis (which incorporates the work
hardening or softening of a material) or cyclic fatigue analysis. The analytical method chosen should be based on the
anticipated failure mode of the equipment. Using this basis implies the former method is more applicable than the latter for
the TRSV and packer. In order for the design engineer to have confidence in the specified mechanical properties, such as
yield strength, fracture toughness, and fatigue resistance of the steel in the environmental conditions to which it will be
subjected, it could be necessary to test the steel at temperature and pressure in the fluids to which it would be exposed in
order to accurately determine these properties. The reader is referred to Improving Completion Viability in HPHT
Completions (Carter, T.S., 2005) for some examples of work done in this area. The risk of assuming the values by
extrapolating from low-temperature data is significant, often erroneous, and could prove disastrous; therefore, this is not
recommended (Brownlee, J.K., et al., 2005).
This framework for materials selection is included in API PER15K-1 and should be used as a reference for HPHT
materials verification and validation.
De-Rating
As mentioned, tensile (yield) strength of oilfield steels in general will be reduced at elevated temperatures. For carbon and
low-alloy steels (defined here as those containing less than 5% alloying elements), the reduction can be significant, as they
become softer and more ductile as the service temperature increases. The degree of static strength reduction is dependent

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primarily on two factors temperature and strain rate. Other factors that may be important are time, chemical composition,
melting practice, and condition (microstructure).
At room temperature, yielding (plastic deformation) of carbon and low-alloy steels occurs when dislocations in the crystal
structure slip. As slip occurs, dislocations intersect and build-up in the material eventually restricting further slip. This
increases the load necessary for continued plastic deformation. This process is called strain hardening or work hardening. At
elevated temperatures, however, the mobility of the atoms decreases the resistance to dislocation motion, allowing the buildup of strain energy from strain hardening to be relieved. The result is a decrease in strength as the temperature increases
(McCoy, T., 2004).
For TRSVs, API Specification 14A 11th Edition requires the manufacturer to perform design calculations with metal
mechanical properties de-rated in accordance with the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section II, Part D. As an
example, this code indicates that in order to retain as much yield strength as possible at high temperature for a 125MY
material, INCONEL-718 needs to be used instead of low-alloy carbon steel. The same de-rating approach should be used
for other equipment.
Packer Design
There are four key areas of focus in packer designs the slips, sealing/back-up system, internal slips and the main mandrel.
The slip design should distribute the forces from the packer to the casing evenly over a relatively large area to minimize
the stresses in the casing that could lead to casing failure. HPHT casing will generally be high yield and hard, and the slip
teeth need to be capable of gripping the casing to prevent movement. See Figure 6 for an example of a common HPHT slip
design. The minimization of casing wear and the importance of casing support from the cement job is critical to the packer
performance, as highlighted in SPE 105736 (Humphreys and Ross, 2007). OTC 21066 (Innes, R. et al., 2010) demonstrates
how the issues with casing wear can be overcome through the use of a three-piece element package and comprehensive backup system to prevent element extrusion caused by casing irregularities. The system passed a modified ISO14310 V0 test at
450F with 15 ksi differential pressure and 400 kips tension and compression even with simulated drill pipe casing damage
(See Figure 7). This casing irregularity issue is the primary reason why metal-to-metal sealing systems are ineffective and
not pursued by this supplier.

Figure 6 Barrel Slip Casing Contact

Figure 7 Element Package with back-ups (Innes et al., 2010)

Once the packer is set, the internal slips or body-lock rings are relied upon to hold the set during the life of the well. They
transfer considerable force from the outer components of the packer to the packer mandrel, and validation of these loads is
required to ensure that the packer will not fail through mandrel collapse at the body-lock ring-load point, or through failure of
the locking mechanism itself.
The packer mandrel design is critical to success. As a flow wet component, it must withstand corrosion/erosion, and as a
pressure containing component, it must withstand burst and collapse. Forces generated by pressure on the elements work to
collapse the mandrel, as does the force transfer from the body-lock rings, as mentioned above. All these elements combine to
require thick packer mandrels and are a major driver for the reduced ID of HPHT completions.

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Retrievable vs. Permanent


The ease of removal of retrieval packers has made them a popular design choice for offshore installations, but for HPHT
wells, they add the complexity of the release mechanism, and also, the challenge of designing a release system that allows the
packer elements, which may have been baked hard for a considerable period of time at high temperature, to retract and relax
in OD sufficiently for retrieval from the well. Should the elements not relax sufficiently, they can cause the packer to re-set
during retrieval, causing considerable non-productive time (NPT). Current operator requirements for retrievable packers are
to 15 ksi and 356F (180C). One of the benefits of the permanent packer system is that the design allows slips to be placed
above and below the elements, leading to a larger contact area and better force distribution, and therefore, higher ratings than
available with retrievable packers; hence, UHPHT packers will be the permanent type.
Casing Specifications
With HPHT designs and materials being pushed to their limits, the ID tolerance window in which a packer can be set is
getting smaller compared to standard equipment. Put another way, HPHT packers are not able to cover multiple weight
ranges of casing, and therefore, will be designed to cover only one or possibly two casing weight ranges. As shown in SPE
105736 (Humphreys and Ross, 2007), conditions now are entering the realm where there will be the need to caliper log the
casing wear at the proposed packer setting depth to ensure that the casing ID and irregularities are within the operating range
of the packer to be installed. The author is of the view that machined ID sealbores, possibly with retrievable protection
sleeves installed, will one day have to be run in the casing to provide the setting location for UHPHT packers. Time will tell.
Another critical point concerning the casing that has already been mentioned is that it must be capable of withstanding the
localized force transfer from the packer, especially after the slips have gripped the internal wall, because this will potentially
impart localized stresses. Figure 8 demonstrates the kind of marking left on the casing ID after a successful HPHT validation
test.

Figure 8 Slip marks on casing

Setting Mechanism
In order to withstand the high pressure differentials imposed on the packer, considerable force must be captured in the
element package. These forces are generally higher than that which can be imparted by battery operated or explosive setting
tools. Hydraulics, therefore, becomes the setting mechanism of choice, either through a hydraulic setting tool for a permanent
sealbore DST packer or through hydraulics or hydrostatics for production packers.
Hydraulic-set packers require a mechanism to plug the tubing below the packer to provide the differential pressure to the
setting piston. Slickline has inherent risks and takes time to set and retrieve plugs; therefore, other types of devices such as
those that can be set without intervention may be considered, providing these methods can meet the pressure and temperature
requirements needed. As discussed previously, HPHT wells might require perforating after the completion is run, therefore
hydrostatic set packers become an attractive option from both a rig time and risk standpoint. The other advantage of the
hydrostatic-set design is that the formation pressure will continue to apply force to the piston to keep the elements
compressed and the packer set.
Packer Element Package
Aflas has historically been the element material of choice for HPHT applications; however, recent testing has demonstrated
that coated EPDM Y267, which was developed for ultra high temperature geothermal applications, could potentially perform
satisfactorily if a coating could be developed that would allow the EPDM to be successfully conveyed to setting depth in an
oil based fluid at high temperature. Significant research has been done in the swell packer field to accomplish this at lower

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temperatures but more work needs to be done at elevated temperatures. One supplier uses a comprehensive back-up system,
incorporating wire mesh anti-extrusion rings, Teflon back-up rings and metal back-up shoes, each with 360 radial
coverage, sealing in UHPHT conditions is possible. The geometry of the three piece element package forces the center
element onto the packer-mandrel OD and the end elements onto the casing ID, reinforcing the seal in both locations.
Packer Validation Testing
Prior to doing complete ISO14310 envelope packer testing, which can be expensive and time-consuming, the element
package alone can be tested for pressure differentials at temperature using a test fixture such as that shown in Figure 9 to
ensure the package will meet requirements. Once this test is successful, the full packer ISO14310 V0 (zero bubble gas tight
with axial loads and temperature cycling) envelope testing be undertaken to validate the design.

Figure 9 Packer Element Test Fixture

Seal Assembly Seals


For DSTs, the test string will generally have a floating seal system on the end to seal inside the permanent sealbore DST
packer. In order to withstand the high pressures and temperatures in addition to the required tubing movement inside the
sealbores below the packer, a robust seal system is required. Figure 10 illustrates such a system, which is now rated to 15 ksi
at 500F and has a proven track record of over 80 installations, including the first Mobile Bay installations from the early
1990s. The seal system uses an enhanced shape for extended wear and a Ryton/Aflas/Teflon/PEEK seal stack, with
all seals capable of holding pressure. Retainer wires can be used at intervals to hold the seal stacks in position and prevent
mechanical loading.

Figure 10 ESET (Extreme Service Extreme Temperature) Seal System

Thread Connections
The same design process used for packers should also be used for the packer accessories. The criteria for selection of
materials that takes into account the temperature de-rating and resulting wall thickness required should be used. With
UHPHT requirements driving non-standard IDs, selection of threads with the desired geometry and pressure rating becomes
something of a challenge. The reader is referred to SPE 97585 (Bradley, A.V. et al., 2005) for a detailed discussion on the
important topic of thread design and selection. Since only one thread failure is all that is required to cause considerable
additional risk and NPT, Table 1 in 97598 (Harris, D. et al, 2005) is also worth consideration when validating and verifying
the thread connection to be used.

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Packer Forces
Of course, having the packer operating envelopes like those shown in Figures 3 through 5 is only half the story. The life cycle
operating points also need to be determined and superimposed on the envelope to ensure that they are all contained within the
envelope, therefore indicating that the packer is capable of withstanding the loads generated downhole. Should any point lie
outside the envelope, then the operator has two choices; i.e., get the packer redesigned to expand the operating envelope to
contain the load point, or manage operations such that the point is moved inside the envelope. There are specific software
programs available now that help determine casing design and tubing configurations. This software provides precise solutions
for movement and casing and tubing load analysis and can provide calculated data points on the packer operating envelope as
indicated in Figure 11 to demonstrate the packer design as fit-for-service.

Figure 11 Operating Envelope with Load Points

Packer Setting Tool


For the permanent sealbore DST packer, installation using a hydraulic instead of an explosive setting tool is required in order
to generate the higher forces required to effect the element seal and fully set the packer. Various design features have been
included into the tool to ensure successful installation. These features include an anti-preset sleeve to allow high circulation
rates prior to setting (which should be kept lower than the rate required to swab off the packer elements), a contingency
secondary ball-drop feature should the first ball fail to seal, a large piston area to allow the required force to be generated, and
primary and secondary ball expending features to allow circulation post-set and to prevent pulling a wet string because of the
latters significant HSE issues. The tool design checks must take into account material de-rating due to high temperature.
Tubing Retrievable Subsurface Safety Valve
For the TRSV, the reliability of the valve to close and seal in a catastrophic
situation is paramount. Long-term capability to protect people and
infrastructure from uncontrolled high-pressure, high-temperature flow to the
surface should not rely on elastomeric back-ups. That is why one supplier
provides 100% metal-to-metal well containment in the closed position, using
a spherical sealing surface on the flapper and seat as shown in Figure 12.
The principle is simple but the outcome can be critical. A ball placed on a
drinking glass will align itself with the edges of the glass and seal. Change
the orientation of the ball slightly and the same seal is obtained. The
geometry of the sphere is what provides the critical sealing reliability
required when needed most. Flappers with flat faces do not provide this
same geometrical advantage when their orientation changes slightly, and that
is why a resilient backup seal is required. A single bubble of gas passing the
flapper in an HPHT well can expand to considerable volume by the time it
reaches the surface and can pose significant risks. This risk is minimized by
using the spherical sealing surface of the contoured flapper. (Vick et.al,
2005; Vinzant and Smith, 1995; Smith, 1992)
In order to ensure that the well stays on line to obtain production, the
other critical aspect of the valves reliability is its capability to provide
hydraulic control of the TRSV without any leaks in the control system. In

Figure 12 TRSV Contoured Flapper

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order to achieve this reliability, designs without threaded connections in their hydraulic control chamber would appear to be
preferential, as the high control-line pressures applied to keep the valve open generate tensile loads and hoop stresses that
effectively act to blow these connections apart, leading to valve failure. Non-equalizing TRSVs are the industry standard for
HPHT wells.
TRSV Piston Seals
The other aspect of long term hydraulic reliability is the piston seals. Figure 13 shows a piston seal system rated to 20ksi at
450F. The system has evolved since the early 1990s and continues to use metal-to-metal sealing in the fully open (down)
and fully closed (up) positions, however the problem with HPHT gas wells occurs due to seepage as the piston moves from
the open to closed position. The seal package addresses this concern and has been verified through testing to deliver zero
bubble performance in a gas environment in both the dynamic and static modes. While many will focus on the high pressure
and high temperature capability, this seal stack has also been confirmed to perform to this same standard of excellence at low
pressure (50 psi) and low temperature (25F) as well.

Figure 13 TRSV Multi-Seal-Stack Piston Design using non-elastomer seals and


metal-to-metal upstop and downstop features

Piston Seal Arrangement


One solution to improving hydraulic system reliability is by reducing the pressure required to control the TRSV. This is
achieved through making the safety-valve tubing pressure independent by isolating the hydraulic control system from the
flow stream as shown in Figure 14. This allows the valve to be controlled using 5-ksi hydraulic pressure, regardless of tubing
pressure or setting depth. This is possible by using a magnetic coupler that has displayed minimal force transfer degradation
due to temperature such that a considerable coupling safety factor still exists at high temperature. In the unlikely event that
the valve piston decouples from the flow tube, it can easily be recoupled by closing the valve, which will realign and
recouple the magnets. (Lebouf, G. et al., 2008). An existing 4-in. design with a 7.87-in. OD and 3.562-in. ID is rated to 15
ksi at 450F.

Figure 14 SCSSV with Floating Magnetic Coupler

Design Verification and Validation Testing


To illustrate how one supplier performs design verification, an internally developed design standard that applies to body
performance calculations in design, documentation, and checking of new TRSVs is followed. The procedure also includes
instructions for generating an operating envelope for the TRSV that can be used to satisfy API requirements per operator
request. To validate the generated envelopes, each body joint design is tested to the full working envelope using a deep well
simulator. This allows validation of not only burst and tension, but also collapse and compression, which is often neglected
due to the expensive fixturing required to conduct this type of testing. It is good engineering practice not to conduct any
same as qualification of TRSV body connections, but instead, to put every body-joint size and design through the full
rigorous validation test.
Each body thread connection is validated through exposure to a range of loading conditions, which are combinations of
internal and external pressure, compression, and tension loads. The test points are selected so that the assembly is tested to
95% of the minimum material yield strengths listed in the material specifications. From the material strengths, the operating

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envelopes are derived, and thus, the testing data points. So, for each body thread connection, the test basically consists of
tensile and compressive loads limited to 95% of the tensile strength of the weakest respective thread connections using either
an entire TRSV assembly or a thread fixture replicating the TRSV and the body joints. The internal and external test
pressures are limited by a valves pressure rating. However, at higher tensile loads, the external test pressure is further
reduced. This is necessary to prevent over-stressing the respective thread connections due to the combined effects of high
external pressure and high tensile loads. The limiting factor for these conditions is 95% of the yield strength of the weakest
respective thread connection material, using Von Mises closed-end calculations.
After each successful test, the operating envelope is then scaled as needed, based on the material specifications for the
respective design. The burst pressure of the TRSV needs to be considered when deciding whether or not to include a wireline
retrievable insert valve (WRIV) feature, as the control-line pressure will act on the body connections once the TRSV is
locked out, and the WRIV is installed.
Valve Control System
The closing of a surface-controlled sub-surface safety valve through the use of an emergency shut down (ESD) system
depends on every component in the system. While the high pressures required to operate the valve through overcoming well
pressure do not impact the pneumatic surface controls of the ESD system, they do have an impact on the hydraulic controls
section of the system, and this fact needs to be considered during the design phase.
Control Manifold
With control pressures for the TRSVs being dependent on the tubing pressure at the valve, control systems should be capable
of delivering the required pressure with a safety factor. This can lead to HSE issues if the system design is such that
personnel are not safely protected from the control pressure, should something break on surface. The use of a tubing pressure
insensitive valve may be necessary to reduce this risk to an As Low as Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) level.
Control Line and Fitting
No matter how reliable the TRSV might be, if the control line or fittings fail, then the well can no longer produce, and
expensive remedial operations are required. For small OD clearance requirements, a slimline dual ferrule fitting connection
that has been validated to 20ksi and burst tested at over 50ksi is available from the manufacturer. For situations where OD
clearance is not a concern, a larger autoclave thread and cone fitting for up for 60-ksi service at 250C (482F) is available.
The control-line pressure rating can be increased through material selection (with corrosion resistant alloys being the most
common for HPHT) and increasing wall thickness. Control lines are now available with a 34 ksi working pressure rating.
Hydraulic Control Line Fluid
At high temperatures and pressures, the control line fluid can break down, leading to control issues. Most suppliers have
fluids good to 200C (392F) however Oceanic XT900 from MacDermid is qualified to 220C (428F) and Castrol Brayco
Micronic SV/3 is good for 232C (450F).
Testing Facilities
With the industry requirement to develop UHPHT equipment comes the necessity to design and build the infrastructure
necessary to test the equipment as well. Figures 15 and 16 show a high-temperature gas test facility that includes vertical
heated/cooled test cells and a horizontal cell fully bunkered and rated to contain a 40 ksi gas blast. The facility design allows
technicians to perform other work tasks on the shop floor while conducting a gas or liquid test. Additionally, pumping
systems for each test cell are isolated from wellbore pressure so technicians can perform maintenance tasks without exposure
to pressure as needed.

Figure 15 Technician operating blast


resistant doors of vertical test cell

Figure 16 Remotely located test control


room and PC-based, virtual test cell

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The control room area provides a dedicated viewing area and conference room and incorporates PC-based virtual systems
with software intelligence to allow remote monitoring of a test. This virtual intelligence integrates the heating/cooling
systems, pumps, test cell locks and cameras into one system for better test control. The system is also programmable for
repetitive type tests when applicable.
Field Equipment Preparation
No UHPHT discussion would be complete without recognition of the importance of equipment preparation at the field
location. Whether or not this preparation involves high-pressure gas testing is a critical operational and safety issue. The
uncontrolled release of a pre-assembly volume of gas due to failure at 15 ksi or above would be a catastrophic event. Risk
reduction measures such as underground bunkering, pre-assembly filling with solid material prior to pressuring up with gas to
reduce the gas volume, testing the assembly submerged in water, minimizing personnel exposure through remote testing, or
using special gas test fixtures that only test a single connection at a time should be taken. Operational risk includes damage of
critical o-rings due to gas decompression, and risk-reduction methods such as selection of elastomers with resistance to gas
decompression and slow bleed off of gas test pressure can be implemented. As manufacturing plants are generally better set
up to run these tests safely, a risk vs. reward evaluation needs to be conducted to establish whether or not this should be
required. Torque charts showing correct premium thread make-up may be considered sufficient.
HSE / Project / QAQC Management
The risks involved in UHPHT work, from development to installation, makes HSE the number one measure and Key
Perfomance Indicator (KPI) for operators and vendors alike. All aspects of the work should have health and safety risk
management and mitigation at its core. The detailed analyses of HSE risks can be expanded to encompass operational risk
and quality-control enhancements to deliver the project successfully. By managing the project in this way, minimization of
negative performance issues should be a natural outcome.
Future Developments
Test facilities continue to be upgraded to allow the development of UHPHT equipment. Future developments will be very
much project driven and will require considerable time, due to the extensive work scope involved in qualifying new tools,
both for downhole and also surface application. The packer and TRSV are just a small but critical part of the equipment
requirements that are needed to explore and develop these fields.
For UHPHT TRSVs, feasibility studies have been performed for 3-in. 30 ksi, 4-in. 20 ksi and 5-in. 25 ksi 500F
valves. Current technology gaps are piston seals for higher differentials and pressures, metallurgy characterization testing,
and infrastructure upgrades including a test agency for API/ISO qualification.
Conclusion
With the continuing search for hydrocarbons comes the increasing challenge to produce from higher pressure, higher
temperature reservoirs. New Standards and Codes are providing guidance to operators and vendors with the task of providing
fit-for-service equipment through design verification and equipment validation processes.
So, where are we in meeting these challenges? The boundaries are gradually being pushed out to the point that 20 ksi
450F packers and TRSVs are now becoming available! However, developing these UHPHT fields safely and efficiently
will continue to challenge the industry for many years to come.
Acknowlegement
The author would like to thank the management of Halliburton for their encouragement and permission to publish this paper.
References
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ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code, Section VIII, Division 3.
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OTC 23627

13

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SI Metric Conversion Factors


lbm x 4.535 924 E-01 = kg
ft x 3.048*E-01= m
in. x 2.54*E+00 = cm
psix 6.894 757 E+00 = kPa
bbl x 1.589 873 E 01= m3
gal x 3.785 412 E-03 = m3
kip x 4.448 222 E + 03 = N
ksi x 6.894 757 E + 03 = kPa
F (F 32)/1.8 = C

*Conversion factor is exact


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