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Protecting your investments The care and handling of Norris Sucker Rods

A four part series reprinted from the Well Servicing magazine

Protecting your investment in sucker rods


Part 1: Storage and transportation

By RUSSELL STEVENS & SCOTT MALONE Norris

Figure 1

he rod string is a vital link between surface equipment and subsurface equipment in a rod pumped well. Without this link the well will not produce liquid. The investment in a rod string may be significant, but failure to adequately protect this vital link can generate substantial expenses that far exceed the initial investment (i.e., rig time, equipment replacement cost, lost production, and the like). However, a rod string that is properly designed (based upon experience), physically handled and made-up in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer, operated within acceptable design parameters and maintained with an effective downhole corrosion control program should give a long, satisfactory, and economical service life. Adhering to these parameters makes both the initial investment and the operating expense for a rod pumped well extremely cost-effective as a method for artificial lift. In order to maximize the value of your investment, Well Servicing will publish a four-part series identifying possible causes of failure and suggested remedies to extend the usable service life of the rod string.

(1) Rod string components should be inspected upon delivery to verify quantity, size, length, type or grade, pin size, guide size, style and/or load capacity. (2) Protectors should not be removed from the components while in storage, except for inspection purposes, and then immediately reinstalled after the visual examination is complete. Whenever a component is observed to be without such protection, it should be inspected and, if undamaged, thoroughly cleaned, a suitable protective coating reapplied and the protectors reinstalled. (3) The components should be routinely inspected on a quarterly basis for damage and/or protective coating deterioration. Damaged components should be removed and/or replaced. Rust should be removed with a soft wire brush prior to the reapplication of a suitable protective coating. (4) The components should be routinely rotated while in storage so that older inventory is used first. Loading or unloading procedures (5) In all handling operations, care should be exercised to prevent the components from coming in contact with an object that may cause mechanical damage. Caution should be exercised with threaded components to ensure intact thread integrity is maintained. Care should be taken when applying or removing the bulkheads and tie-downs used to secure the load during shipment in order to avoid damaging the components. (6) Polished rods, pony rods, sinker bars, stabilizer bars, and sucker rods should never be handled in such a manner that may produce a permanent bend or kink. Bent or kinked components are permanently damaged and should be discarded.

Storage and transportation In most cases, the rod string is comprised of the polished rod clamp, polished rod, polished rod coupling, pony rods, rod guides, sucker rods, stabilizer bars, sinker bars, sucker rod couplings and subcouplings. Physically storing and transporting these components in accordance with the recommendations outlined below, and/or those contained in API Recommended Practices 11BR, will help prevent premature failures that occur due to improper storage and transportation procedures.

Figure 2

Figure 3

(7) Polished rods, sinker bars, and sucker rods should always be handled with approved lifting devices designed to support the sucker rod without damage. a. Packaged sucker rods should always be lifted and/ or laid down using a forklift and an approved spreader bar and tee hook system that adequately supports the full load of the sucker rod package by lifting one package, at a time, from beneath (Figure 1). b. Loose polished rods, sinker bars and sucker rods should always be lifted and/or laid down one at a time with either an approved spreader bar and nylon straps, or by using a minimum of two individuals with each person positioned in about 3 to 4 feet from each end. Transportation procedures (8) Trucks and trailers for handling rod string components should have non-metallic floors or supports, be in good condition that provides for proper support to the component shipped. Trailers should provide blockage directly under the crosswise supports of the package so that the sucker rods themselves do not come in contact with the blockage. Further, packages should be stacked so that the bottom supports of the top package rest squarely on the top supports of the package underneath. a. Polished rod clamps should be placed in storage boxes during shipment. b. Polished rods should remain in factory protectors and set level on non-metallic supports during shipment. Nylon tie-downs should be placed in such a position as to pass over non-metallic supports and should be prevented from coming in contact with the polished rod by the use of spacers. c. Pony rods should be carefully packaged or palletized and nylon tie-down straps should be placed in such a position as to pass over the package supports. The straps should be prevented from coming in contacting with the pony rods on the top layer. d. Sinker bars should set level on non-metallic supports and have nylon tie-downs that pass over the

non-metallic supports. Tie-downs should be prevented from coming in contact with the polished rod by the use of spacers. e. Stabilizer bars should be carefully packaged or palletized and nylon tie-down straps should pass over the package supports. Tie-downs should be prevented from contacting the stabilizer bars on the top layer. f. Packaged sucker rods, preferably should be handled as a packaged unit. The packaged unit should set level with non-metallic supports under each package support. When stacking packaged sucker rods on top of other packaged sucker rods, the package supports in the top package must properly align vertically with the package supports in the package beneath. Nylon tie-down straps should be placed in such a position as to pass over the package supports and should be prevented from contacting the sucker rods on the top layer (Figure 2). g. Loose sucker rods should be carefully placed on five non-metallic supports. End supports should be placed approximately 1-foot in from each end and the other three supports should be spaced equally in the middle. Layered sucker rods should be separated by non-metallic spacers positioned directly above the non-metallic supports in order to separate the top layer from the bottom layer of sucker rods. Nylon tiedown straps should be placed in such a position as to pass over the spacers and should be prevented from contacting the sucker rods on the top layer. Storage Procedures (9) Couplings, polished rod clamps, polished rods, pony rods and stabilizer bars should be stored inside, out of the elements, on shelves, pallets, racks or sills made from non-metallic materials that are non-abrasive to the stored component. a. Couplings should be stored separately on pallets in factory boxes by type, inside thread diameter, and outside diameter (Figure 3). b. Polished rod clamps should be stored separately on shelves by style, size and load capacity.

Figure 4

c. Polished rods should be stored separately on racks or sills by type, size, length and pin size. Use three non-metallic supports for polished rods that are 14 feet or less in length. End supports should be placed approximately 1-foot in from each end of the rod and the other support spaced equal distance in the middle. Use four non-metallic supports for polished rods that are 20 feet or less. End supports should be placed 1-foot in from each end of the rod and the other two supports spaced equally along the middle. Use five non-metallic supports for polished rods that are 26 feet or less in length, with end supports 1-foot in from each end of the rod and the other three supports spaced equally along the middle. Use six non-metallic supports for polished rods that are 32 feet or less in length, with the supports spaced as described above. Use seven non-metallic supports for polished rods 32 feet or less, with supports spaced as described above. d. Pony rods should be stored separately by type or grade, size and length in bins, pallets, or racks designed to minimize metal-to-metal contact. e. Stabilizer bars should be stored separately by type or grade, size, pin size and guide size in bins, pallets or racks designed to minimize metal-to-metal contact. (10) Sinker bars, packaged sucker rods and loose sucker rods should be stored on racks or sills made from non-metallic materials that are non-abrasive to the stored components. The storage site containing the racks or sills should have a level, firm surface that is clear of weeds and debris with adequate drainage to promote water runoff. a. Sinker bars should be stored separately by grade, size, length and pin size on racks or sills designed to minimize metal-to-metal contact. They should be stored loosely on a minimum of five nonmetallic supports with end supports approximately 1-foot in from each end of the bars and the other three supports equally spaced along the middle. Sinker bar layers should be separated by spacers placed directly above the non-metallic supports. The

Figure 5

spacers should be thick enough to prevent the sinker bars from coming in contacting with other sinker bars in adjacent layers. If the spacers are not notched, the outside sinker bar in each layer must be chocked with blocks to prevent the sinker bars from rolling off the spacers. b. Packaged sucker rods should be stored separately by type or grade and size on racks or sills designed to minimize metal-to-metal contact. They should be stored using non-metallic supports under each package support and, when stacking packaged rods, the package supports on the top package must properly align vertically with the package supports on the package beneath (Figure 4). c. Loose sucker rods should be stored separately by type or grade and size on racks or sills designed to minimize metal-to-metal contact. They should be stored using five non-metallic supports with each end support placed approximately 1-foot in from each end of the rods and the other three supports spaced equally along the middle. Rod layers should be separated by spacers placed directly above the nonmetallic supports. The spacers should be thick enough to prevent the sucker rods from coming in contact with other sucker rods in adjacent layers. If the spacers are not notched, the outside sucker rod in each layer must be chocked with blocks to prevent the sucker rods from rolling off the spacers (Figure 5). Adhering to the guidelines outlined above should help prevent damage to components of the rod string that result in premature failure. By proactively preventing possible failure causes that result from poor storage and transportation techniques, you are protecting the initial investment in the rod string and helping to lower operating expenses that just makes good sense.

Protecting your investment in sucker rods


Part 2: Running and Re-Running
By RUSSELL STEVENS & SCOTT MALONE Norris

s discussed in Part 1 of this series (Well Servicing July/August 2005), the rod string is a vital link between surface and subsurface equipment in a rod pumped well. A significant monetary investment is necessary along with a considerable amount of time. The API document, Recommended Practices 11BR, states useful sucker rod strength is limited by the fatigue performance of a metal in a non-corrosive environment. But the fatigue life can be dramatically decreased by improper installation Many improper activities can cause rod damage so severe that failure can result in just a few days following initial installation. The proper and consistent procedures of running sucker rods into a producing well takes time and should not be a race against the clock. Time spent wisely is sure to pay off in terms of longer run times without unnecessary downtime and rod replacement.

Figure 1

General running and re-Running information (1) Rod string components should be inspected upon delivery to verify quantity, size, length, type or grade, pin size, guide size, style and/or load capacity. They should also be examined to verify that the components were not damaged during the delivery process. (2) Protectors should not be removed from the components until the string is ready to be installed, except for inspection purposes, and then immediately reinstalled after the visual examination is complete. These protectors and packaging materials are preserving your investment from the surrounding environment until you can place it into the environment for which it was designed to operate. Whenever a component is observed to be without such protection, it should be inspected and, if undamaged, thoroughly cleaned and a suitable protective coating reapplied and the protectors reinstalled. (3) Loose rods should be stored at the well location in the same manner required at storage yard facilities. Non-metallic supports should be used to ensure that rods are not bent and metal-to-metal contact is avoided. Metal-to-metal contact is an opportunity to damage the surface of the rod and potentially lead to premature failure (Figure 1). (4) Pony rods and couplings should be delivered and stored on separate pallets until ready for use. The same level of care and attention should be given to these accessories as is given to the sucker rods (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Running the rods (5) It is extremely important that the well servicing rig be correctly positioned over the wellbore. The rod hook must be positioned directly over the tubing bore in order for the sucker rods to feed into the tubing without creating friction on the sides of the running nipple. Any friction, undoubtedly, will rub off any corrosion inhibitor film and may possibly damage the surface of the rod due to the aggressive metal-to-metal contact. The lack of corrosion protection and/or the work hardening of the area will create a small anodic area and corrosion will be accelerated in this spot and premature failure may result. (6) The rod bundles that are ready to be installed should be broken open in a safe manner that will not cause rod surface damage. This can be accomplished

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using side cutters or tin snips to cut the steel banding. Axes, crescent wrenches, claw hammers, or any other tool can easily cause damage to the rods and may also cause injury. (7) The rod bundles are not designed to be used as a work surface. Do not place tools, pipe or other equipment on the rod bundles as this will increase the possibility of rod surface damage. (8) Dumping the couplings out on the ground for faster access to them may cause failure for every coupling that retains contamination in the threads. To properly clean the threads on couplings contaminated in this manner will take a great deal of time. The threads will gall if not kept free of solid material. (9) The pony rods are nothing more than shorter rods and are susceptible to the same types of damage as a regular length rod. (10) Unscrew the rod thread protectors by hand or with an air impact wrench. Knocking off the thread protectors will leave plastic remnants on the rod threads that will damage the threads during makeup or when they are broken out on the next pump pull. Do not remove them until it is time to install the rods. It is best to keep them covered and protected as long as possible. (11) When removing box protectors DO NOT engage the coupling threads with the screw driver. This action always results in thread coupling crest damage and will more than likely fail downhole. (12) Clean and inspect pins and boxes. New rod pins are coated with corrosion inhibitor from the manufacturer; not thread lubricant. The pins of the rods in the derrick often have been contaminated by wellbore fluid, unknown lubrication type and even blowing sand. These contaminants need to be removed and the threads re-lubricated. (13) The API sucker rod coupling is designed as a rotary-shouldered, friction-loaded, fluid-free connection between sucker rods (Figure 3). Apply a small amount of lubrication to the pin or coupling threads to help reduce the interference between the threads (Figure 4). The rod shoulder and box face contact requires friction to maintain proper makeup. Lubrication in the friction contact area will increase likelihood of pin failure. The faces must remain clean and dry throughout the makeup procedure. (14) Sucker rod thread-lubricants need to be smooth, with a grease-like consistency, and contain corrosion inhibitors and anti-oxidants to reduce the interference-fit between the threads. Topco SRL is

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Figure 6

such a lubricant. If no other lubricant is available use the grease gun off the rig. Ensure that the lubricant has no fillers. (15) Inspect the rod elevators regularly and repair or replace them if their use may result in damage to the rods. Ensure that the seats are smooth and round in shape, that the latch opens with resistance and snaps shut, and that the bail moves back and forth freely. Elevators can inflict mechanical damage to the rod upset taper if seats are not smooth or the elevators can corkscrew the entire string if they open at the wrong time (Figure 5). The individual rods will be bent near the ends if the elevators do not pick up the

Correct

Incorrect

Wind

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string weight in a level fashion due to their inability to swing freely. (16) As you begin to pick up the rods, remember that every rod must be tailed into the derrick (Figure 6). Rods that run down the bundle damage every rod they hit. Rods that are dragged though the dirt have contaminated threads and may gall. These threads must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected for damage. (17) Be sure to use bell nipple, a stripper or a swage nipple for the running nipple. A piece of cut-off tubing may damage most every rod you run. (18) Power tongs are the recommended tools for making up joints on virtually all sucker rod strings. They must be set up properly to provide the circumferential displacement specified by the manufacturer. The displacement card must match all four (4) characteristics of the rod (size, grade, condition and manufacturer) to ensure accurate displacement calibration of the power tongs (Figure 7).

Figure 9

(19) Make up the rod and coupling connections by hand and scribe a vertical line on the coupling and lower rod shoulder and then unscrew the lower connection until roughly two pin-threads are left engaged by the coupling. Note: When making these initial connections, the rod must be hanging free in the rod elevators squarely over the joint below. When stabbing the rod pin into the coupling the rod should be hanging straight and without slack to avoid cross threading (Figure 8). (20) Make sure the engine rpms are at full throttle. Then pull the rod tongs to the connection, engage the connection with the rod tongs using the lowest speed possible. (21) Maintain full engine rpms throughout makeup and stall the rod tongs and do not bump the connection. Back away the rod tongs and idle down the engine rpms. (22) Match the circumferential displacement on the rod coupling connection to the proper card. (Figure 9) Adjust the power tongs to create the displacement necessary. Do a mechanical integrity check of the rod tongs by checking the next 4 to 5 joints to verify the pressure adjustments are correct and maintained. Check every 12th connection as you go into the hole with the sucker rods and adjust the power tong pressure accordingly. (23) Note: Cross threaded connections are not acceptable. Always start every connection by hand, with at least two full threads engaged before putting the power tongs on the joint. The tongs are capable of cross threading the joint and the joint will fail. (24) Pulling rods can also damage them, particularly if you are pulling the rods and laying them down. It is possible to lay down singles without much damage, but it is virtually impossible to lay down doubles without damaging the rods. Consistently prepared joints and damage free string installation will enhance the likelihood of long productive sucker rod service life.

Protecting your investment in sucker rods


Part 3: Well Optimization

By RUSSELL STEVENS & SCOTT MALONE Norris

s discussed in Part 1 of this series (Well Servicing July/August 2005), the rod string is a vital link between surface and subsurface equipment in a rod pumped well. A rod string that is properly designed (based upon experience), physically handled and made-up in accordance with the recommendation of the manufacturer, operated within acceptable design parameters and maintained with an effective corrosion control program should give a long, satisfactory and economical service life. Since most failures can typically be categorized as either man-made or well-induced, Part 1 (Well Servicing July/August 2005) and Part 2 (Well Servicing September/October 2005) dealt with preventing man-made failures from improper storage, transportation, running and re-running procedures. Part 3 explores design and operating conditions to optimize the useable service life of the rod string. Most failures in the rod string are repeat failures. In other words, they occur as a result of the same failure cause in a given well. Simply pulling the rod string, replacing the failed component and re-running the rod string will not solve the problem and will ultimately lead to more failures. Do not replace the rod string one component at a time. Instead, analyze the failure cause and implement proper corrective action based upon information gleaned from the failure history. Failures inevitably drive costs up, so by reducing the failure frequency, or extending the timeframe between failures, operating expenses (OPEX) can be kept in check. That said, the elimination of all failures in a rod pumped system is impractical, if not impossible, and the costs associated with the task would be astronomical! Therefore the rod-pumped system must be optimized to effectively manage failure frequencies, thus allowing the greatest amount of profit to be realized from the well. The first criterion for effective failure management is to target problem wells. To target problem wells, you must keep good, accurate records. Effective failure management is data intensive and requires comprehensive knowledge of the data from which

Figure 1

tracking measures can be developed to monitor and measure improvements. A simple database or spreadsheet is a good way to record and track failures. The database or spreadsheet should record the failure depth, failed component (pump, rods or tubing), location of failure on the component (traveling valve cage, rod body, collar, etc.), and the root-cause of each failure (fluid pound, H2S corrosion, inadequate makeup, etc.). During the initial stages of an effective failure management program, prevention costs may increase, masking the initial effects of the improvements. However, overall long-term cost reductions will become apparent and improvements to operations realized resulting in greater operating economics. Numerous combinations of depths, tubing sizes, fluid volumes, pump sizes and configurations, unit sizes and geometries, stroke lengths, pumping speeds and sucker grades and tapers are available to the system designer. Most designs are optimized for conditions existing at the time of the initial installation. However as the well matures, gas and/or water production may increase or decrease, resulting in changes to load requirements and fluid corrosiveness. A good initial design may become a poor design if well conditions change. The system may need periodic re-evaluation to insure all components are operating effectively. Develop a systematic approach to well optimization by monitoring actual operating parameters with reliable diagnostic equipment. Always verify that conditions are optimal for the well after any change in operating conditions (production volumes, fluid level, pump size, stroke length, strokes per minute, chemical treatment, etc.) as these changes can severely impact the total rod-pumped system. This allows better control of operating conditions such as rod loading, pump fillage, corrosion, solids and the like, that enhance the useable service life of your equipment.

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Have you ever heard the phrase, If it aint bumping, it aint pumping!? Bumping, a.k.a. pump tagging, allows the reciprocating top valve rod bushing to impact the stationary valve rod guide of the downhole rod pump at or near the end of the downstroke. The force of the impact between the two pump components rattles the traveling valve ball off its seat and allows a load transfer from the rod string to the tubing to take place. At the same time, a shock wave is generated throughout the rod-pumped system by the sudden impact of these two components tagging each other. The impact damages the clutches on the bushing and guide (Figure 1) and the shock wave creates rod buckling, rod-on-tubing contact and excessive wear. Bumping also elevates the possibility of damage to the gear reducer of the pumping unit. Bumping the pump is a band-aid solution that attempts to correct symptoms created by erratic valve action in the downhole rod pump. Erratic valve action is a problem that may be caused from solids and/or gas interference. Careful review of pump teardown reports will indicate problems from solids, i.e. sand cut plungers (Figure 2), scored barrels, and such. Solids can significantly increase pump friction, reducing rod loads on the downstroke and pushing rod buckling further up the well. Solids trapped between the barrel and the plunger will also increase loads on the upstroke. Using alternate pattern balls and seats (Figure 3), with increased flow areas, may help alleviate some of the symptoms commonly associated with this phenomenon. Designing pumps with high compression ratios is another way to effectively deal with gas interference. The compression ratio of the pump is equal to the swept volume of the plunger stroke plus the unswept volume of the plunger stroke divided by the unswept volume of the plunger stroke. The pump discharge pressure is equal to the pump intake pressure times the compression ratio. If the pump discharge pressure is not equal to or greater than the hydrostatic fluid load on the traveling valve, gas interference or gas locking will occur. Heavy wall, stroke-thru barrels (RHBC & RHAC) are examples of pumps that develop

relatively low compression ratios due to the area of the unswept volume in the lower extension and are prone to more problems with gas interference and gas pound (Figure 4) if not properly designed. Many wells produce gas along with the well fluids. The presence of free or break-out gas at the pump can interfere with the efficiency of the pump action, thereby reducing the amount of fluid produced. This interference can result in a gas pound and, when extreme, it can result in a completely gas-locked pump. During the pumping unit upstroke, the pump barrel is filled with fluid and free gas, usually in a frothy condition. On the downstroke, the rod and fluid loads above the plunger must compress this gas until the pressure above and below the traveling valve are equalized to allow the traveling valve to open and discharge the gas and fluid into the tubing. At this time, a pound or shock wave similar to that produced by fluid pound, only cushioned more, travels through the entire system. Some control can be maintained if gas separation is possible before the gas enters the pump, but where gas breaks out of solution during the pressure drop within the pump, only partial control can be achieved. In a situation where gas completely fills the pump barrel the pump gas locks, which means that not enough discharge pressure can be built within the pump to open either the traveling or standing valve and production will cease. A great many pumping wells pound fluid, either intentionally or unintentionally, and any well is subject to pounding depending on many pumping conditions. A fluid pound (Figure 5), as experienced in rod-pumped wells, is caused by the pump not completely filling with fluid on the upstroke. As the downstroke begins, the entire fluid and sucker rod load move down through a void until the plunger hits the fluid level in the pump barrel. The traveling valve opens, suddenly transferring the load to the tubing, causing a sharp decrease in load which transmits a shock wave through the entire rod-pumped system. It is this shock wave that damages the components of the pumping system. A fluid pound is always undesirable and rod-pumped system controls should be used to monitor and detect this condition. If fluid

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Figure 4 and Figure 5

pound is suspected, changes need to be made to the rod pumped system to eliminate or reduce the pound. The worst fluid pound condition is when the pound occurs at or near maximum polished rod velocity and the resulting shock wave is greatest. Properly designed and operated rod-pumped systems will not allow the rod string to come in contact with the inside of the tubing. Poorly designed rod strings, excessive strokes per minute and solids in the pump can retard the plunger fall causing the rod string to stack out and buckle. It is difficult to predict where rod-on-tubing contact and wear will occur so it is advantageous to eliminate or reduce factors that retard plunger fall. Rod-on-tubing contact and wear will typically accelerate any other processes that are acting to reduce the usable service life of the rod string. The rod string needs to operate in tension and the tubing should be properly anchored at the lowest possible depth in the well. Properly anchoring the tubing is always recommended justify any decision made that doesnt include a tubing anchor! Wear is defined as the progressive removal of surface metal by contact with the tubing. Wear causes failures by reducing the cross-sectional area of the metal component, exposing new surface metal to corrosion, and causes connection failures in the rod string from impact and shoulder damage. Angled wear patterns indicate rod strings that are aggressively contacting the tubing at an angle, usually as a result of fluid pound, gas interference, pump tagging, and/or unanchored (or improperly anchored) tubing. Tubing-slap wear (Figure 6) is the result of the rod string stacking out during the downstroke. This extremely aggressive coupling or rod-on-tubing contact is the direct result of severe fluid pound, unanchored (or improperly anchored)

Figure 7

tubing, sticking (or stuck) pump plungers, or any combination of the preceding. Wear that is equal in length, width and depth usually suggests a deviated or crooked well bore (Figure 7). For a deviated or crooked well bore, it may be necessary to use injection molded rod guides to manage the sideloads that occur due to the dogleg severity. For deviated or crooked well bores, a properly designed injection molded rod guide system will allow the rod guide to become the sacrificial component in the rod string and prevent rod-on-tubing contact and wear. A wellbore deviation survey is recommended for proper placement of the rod guides in areas suspected of having high sideloads. When using rod guides, rod rotators are always recommended to extend the service life of the rod guide by distributing wear around the entire outer circumference of the component. This article is by no means all inclusive of every design and operating condition encountered in every type of rod-pumped system available. It is intended as a reference guide to help optimize wells. Where design and operating conditions are concerned, there are no absolutes. But, by recognizing unfavorable operating conditions through proper failure management and well monitoring techniques, optimization practices can be implemented that will make more wells economically advantages to produce.

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Protecting your investment Protecting your investment in sucker rods in sucker rods
Part 4: Corrosion-fatigue induced failures

By RUSSELL STEVENS & SCOTT MALONE Norris

eeping with the theme presented in the previous three parts of this series, the rod string is a vital link between the surface equipment and the subsurface equipment in a rod pumped well. To optimize the service life of the rod string, it must be properly designed (based upon experience), physically handled and made-up in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer, and operated within acceptable design parameters with an effective corrosion control program. An effective corrosion control program that is properly designed, implemented and optimized using accepted monitoring techniques, is a critical constituent that helps extend the economical service life of the rod string. Since most failures can usually be categorized as either man-made or well induced, Part 1 (Well Servicing July/August 2005), Part 2 (Well Servicing September/October 2005), and Part 3 (Well Servicing November/December 2005) of this series dealt with preventing man-made failures and recognizing acceptable design parameters. Now in Part 4, we will attempt to explore some of the more commonly recognized design, implementation and monitoring techniques for an effective downhole corrosion control program.

Corrosion defined Corrosion is defined by NACE International as the deterioration of a substance (usually a metal) or its properties because of a reaction with its environment. For the steel components in the rod string, corrosion is the electrochemical reaction between the steel and the corrosiveness of the produced fluids. This electrochemical reaction will turn your investment, in the rod string, into a worthless solution of corrosion byproducts (i.e., iron oxide, iron sulfide, iron carbonate, etc.). Some form and concentration of water (H2O) is present in all wells

considered corrosive and most contain considerable quantities of dissolved impurities and gases. For instance, carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) acid gases, commonly found in most wells, are high soluble and readily dissolve in H2O which lowers its potential of hydrogen (pH). The corrosivity of the produced fluid is then a function of the amount of these two acid gases that remain in solution, the pH of the fluid, wellbore temperature and pressure. Regardless of the steel grade or type, effective corrosion inhibition is necessary in any well considered corrosive. Some steel grades or types may offer enhanced performance in certain aqueous environments, but effective inhibitor programs must be maintained to adequately protect the steel from corrosion. In order to be effective and provide a protective barrier against corrosion, the inhibitor must be allowed to contact the surface of the steel it is to protect. The preceding statement acknowledges that, for effective corrosion inhibition, it is best to start out with clean equipment. Another aspect of corrosion is the steel and its potential to corrode. New steel introduced into an corrosive environment typically has a higher potential to corrode thus steel components in the rod string must be adequately protected from corrosion. NACE Task Group T-1D-3 has prepared recommendations for the corrosion control of steel sucker rods and these recommendations are published in the API Recommended Practice 11BR. These recommendations set forth standard guidelines for application methods, inhibitor selection and treatment program evaluation. Type and method of treatment Fluid compatibility, fluid volumes, completion methods and reservoir compatibility determine the type and method of treatment that is available for

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each well. Fluid analysis is critical to the evaluation of treating chemicals for compatibility with the fluid produced by the well. Selection criterion includes using chemicals that do not create stable emulsions. Selection criterion also includes using treating chemicals that are not so tenacious as to develop undesirable precipitates or gunk when injected downhole. Prior to their application, chemical companies should test their chemicals with produced well fluid in order to prevent operational problems related to the chemical treatment program. An effective corrosion inhibitor will create a protective barrier between the steel rod string and the corrosive well fluids, but will not create additional problems with operating the well. Improper selection of a corrosion inhibitor may result in increased subsurface pump failures, rod failures and problems with surface production facilities. Batch treating Batch treating down the casing/tubing annulus is a common method of applying corrosion inhibitors. Batch treating involves pre-flush water to wet the casing/tubing, a high concentration of corrosion inhibitor, and flush water, of a determined volume, that helps disperse the chemical treatment downhole. A calculated quantity of corrosion inhibitor is added to the casing/tubing annulus at regular intervals to help promote the continued repair of the protective inhibitor film until the next treatment cycle. A basic rule-of-thumb for corrosion inhibitor concentration is to start at 25 ppm (parts per million), based on the total fluid production volume between treatments, and to increase the concentration as deemed necessary by results obtained from acceptable monitoring techniques. (Use a minimum volume of 2 quarts corrosion inhibitor per 1,000' of well depth). Flush volumes will be determined by the well depth and the dynamic fluid level in the casing/ tubing annulus. Batch treatments are sometimes re-circulated for several hours. A relatively large volume of corrosion inhibitor is deliberately re-circulated from the casing/tubing annulus to the production stream and back again. Batch and circulate treatments help ensure all downhole production equipment surfaces in the well make contact with the corrosion inhibitor more than once.

Continuous treatment Continuous treatment is another method commonly used to apply corrosion inhibitors. Continuous treatment involves a chemical-feed pump used to inject corrosion inhibitor at the surface or below the subsurface pump via a capillary string. A small volume of produced fluid is continuously circulated to help flush the inhibitor down the casing/tubing annulus. Prior to putting the well on continuous injection, a pre-treatment application, typically consisting of five to 10 gallons of concentrated corrosion inhibitor, is injected into the casing/tubing annulus. The basic rule-of-thumb for corrosion inhibitor concentration is to start at 25 ppm (parts per million), based on total fluid production, and to increase the level of concentration as deemed necessary by results obtained from acceptable monitoring techniques. Squeeze treatments Although not a common practice, corrosion inhibitor squeeze treatments can be effective and long-lasting. Squeeze treatments involve pumping large volumes of corrosion inhibitor, diluted with solvent, into the producing formations under high pressure. The inhibitor in the formation desorbs over time to help maintain the inhibitor film on the downhole production equipment. A basic rule-of-thumb for corrosion inhibitor concentration is to start with 50 to 75 ppm (parts per million), based on the total fluid production for the expected treatment life. Because inhibitor compatibility with the formation fluids and the formation rock is a concern, squeeze treatments are generally not used when other treatment methods are possible. Program performance Once a corrosion inhibition program is designed and effectively applied, it is important to monitor the performance of the program and optimize the inhibitor type or concentration level before failures occur. An effective chemical inhibition program is fairly expensive and may be subject to cutbacks if justification for this huge expense cannot be made. Non-effective corrosion inhibition programs allow the system to become contaminated and may require extensive cleaning in order to re-establish an effective maintenance film. By reducing an effective inhibition program, it will become difficult to continue operating the well economically due to the

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Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

potential damage incurred by the downhole production equipment. In the long run, most wells will be more economical to operate with effective corrosion inhibition programs versus those without. Monitoring techniques NACE International recommends using several monitoring techniques simultaneously, if possible and recommends never relying on any single method for monitoring corrosion! Some of the tools typically used to measure the effectiveness of chemical inhibition programs include: (1) water and gas analysis; (2) weight loss coupons; (3) pH measurements; (4) H2S content; (5) C02 content; (6) O2 content; (7) chloride content; (8) iron count measurements; (9) copper ion displacement (CID); (10) corrosion inhibitor residuals; (11) linear polarization; (12) bacterium cultures; (13) bottomhole temperature measurements; (14) bottomhole pressure measurements; (15) fluid level measurements; and (16) visual water quality. Designing and implementing an effective corrosion inhibition program is a complex subject that is difficult to cover due to the numerous combinations of corrodent concentration levels, temperatures, pressures, compatibility issues, production volumes, and completion methods to name a few. Proper selection of the corrosion inhibitor type and concentration level, application method and monitoring techniques should help prevent most corrosion related failures. However, this article is by no means all inclusive on the subject of corrosion induced failures. Chemical companies that specialize in the design and treatment of corrosion inhibition programs are the best source for up-to-date information about programs recommended for your particular application.

Types of corrosion Acid corrosion is a uniform thinning of the metal surface, leaving the component with the appearance of sharp, feathery, or web-like residual metal nodules. Corrosion deposits will not be formed in the pits or on the surface of the component (Figure 1). Acid producing bacteria (APB) has the same basic pit shape characteristics of CO2 acid gas corrosion except for the cavernous appearing pit-wall and the striated or grainy appearing pit-base. The pit will not contain scale deposits (Figure 2). Carbon dioxide (CO2) acid gas corrosion forms round-based pits with steep walls and sharp pit-edges. These pits are usually interconnected in long lines but can occasionally be singular and isolated. The pit base will be filled with iron carbonate scale a corrosion byproduct of CO2 acid gas corrosion (Figure 3). Chlorides contribute to the likelihood of an increase in corrosion related failures in wells with small amounts of CO2 and/or H2S acid gas corrosion. Plain carbon steel tends to pit in produced waters containing high chlorides. The pitting is usually spread over the entire surface of the component with flat-bottomed, shallow, irregular shaped pits that exhibit steep walls and sharp pit-edges. Dissimilar metals corrosion may be apparent when the less noble metal has a tapered or leeched appearance toward the more noble metal. Hydrogen blistering is the formation of blisters on or near the metal surface from the absorption of hydrogen into the metal lattice creating excessive internal pressure in the steel (Figure 4). Hydrogen embrittlement usually leaves the fracture surface halves with a brittle, granular appearance due to the immediate shear tear that occurs as a result of the absorption of hydrogen into the metal lattice and the loss of ductility in the steel (Figure 5).

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Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) acid gas corrosion pits are round-based with beveled walls and pit-edges. Pits are usually random and scattered over the entire surface of the component. Both the surface of the metal and the pit-base will be covered with iron sulfide scale a corrosion byproduct of H2S acid gas corrosion (Figure 6). Oxygen (O2) enhanced corrosion pits are broadbased, smooth-bottomed with the tendency for one pit to combine with another. Pit shape characteristics may include steep pit-walls and sharp pit-edges with CO2 acid gas corrosion or beveled pit-walls and pit-edges with H2S acid gas corrosion (Figure 7). Stray current corrosion generally leaves deep, irregular shaped pits with smooth sides and sharp pit-edges. Sulfate Reducing Bacteria (SRB) has the same basic pit shape characteristics of H2S acid gas corrosion, often with multiple transverse cracks in the pit-base, tunneling around the pit-edges (aka pits-within-pits), pit clustering, and/or unusual anomalies (i.e. shiny splotches) on the surface of the component (Figure 8).

Figure 7

Figure 8

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