Some wells are drilled to extract valuable resources from; whether it’s oil, gas, or water. Now, finding the right location to drill a well at is certainly hard, but what is also hard is finding the best method and equipment to extract resources. Inflatable packers are equipment used in a huge array of deployments in wellbores. An Inflatable bladder is used to maximize the size of the hole or the underground incision inside a casing/wellbore.
The process of getting the packer in place consists of two dynamic processes; a drop ball or some tube movements are used, then applying some hydraulic pressure to proceed with the inflation of the packer by applying surface pressure in a calculated manner. The ratio of expansion is pretty incredible which makes it a pretty practical utility. Now, there are many types of packers, and every type has a use and different advanced features that can be set up. In this article, we’ll be showing the different types of advanced packers to test your knowledge or help you choose the most suitable packer for you by showing the latest technological advancements in the field of inflatable packers.
Types Of Packers
There are a few types of packers; the single packer, used to isolate or separate zones creating two separate mediums, it gets inflated and deflated separately which is practical for water separation and chemical treatment, once it’s set, it usually stays there permanently or it can be retrieved; straddle packers, multiple-set packers which means they can be used for different separation to target multiple specific zones by inflation and deflation constantly if needed.
Straddle packers’ elements can be a bit weaker than single packer’s because the pressure induced is balanced by two different yet almost equal forces, unlike the single packer which faces high pressure caused by pistons due to anchoring the packer.
Advances In Inflatable Packers
Technology has helped in improving the performance of inflatable packers and their reliability. Once Slat elements were introduced to inflatable packers, they helped augment the expansion ratio to almost triple the original volume, offers a pressure limit of around 8 million newton square meter, and a temperature limit of 135 Celsius.
Software was introduced as an element to inflatable packers, it aided in manufacturing high-quality packers and helped in designing custom packers in jobs that required very specific designs or execution while giving an estimate of the hole’s effect on the elements of the packers. Inflatable anchor elements were developed for single packers’ utilities while augmenting the reliability of the packer’s elements by controlling the increased allowed pressure and temperature even in the worst circumstances.
Reliability Of Inflatable Packers
Inflatable packers are becoming technologically advanced year by year, making sure that you have the most advanced packers is very important, since inflatable packers are known for their unreliability in a lot of situations which introduce harsh environments to the elements.
Failure rates of packers are reported to be from 25 percent to 50 percent usually caused by mishaps in job design. Other than improving the execution of the design to make the use of the element not exceed the operating limits, and make sure the primary inflatable element doesn’t fail; there are some other ways that improved using inflatable packers like:
- Developing software that expects the failure parameters on the element performance.
- Advancing the technology of making inflatable packers by increasing the differential pressure and temperature rating especially in hostile chemical situations. The developing started back on 1994 to increase the element reliability.
- Providing several layers of reinforcement to enhance the development of the inflatable packers.
Inflatable Packers Variation In Structure
Inflatable packers are being modified constantly to decrease the error element and enhance their reliability. There are some of the most advanced types now in the market to minimize your confusion to make sure you have the most advanced packer available now.
There are two main types of inflatable packers available in the market.
1. Sliding-End Packers
While the element increases in diameter during inflation, the gland slides from one end to the other in this type of packers. The element slides on one end slides on the pipe base with the help of the O-ring seals. This type is specifically made for high-pressure applications or for the open borehole.
In high-pressure applications, usually, the differential pressure ranges from 600,000 to 30,000000 newton per meter square between the upper and the bottommost end of the packer. One of the most advanced types of the sliding-end packers is Tigre Tierra Inflatable Packers which has steel-reinforced sliding-head or can have also simple fixed-head balloon.
2. Fixed-End Packers
Unlike the other type, this type of packer doesn’t allow the element to slide on one end, on the contrary, the two rubber element ends are fixed to the pipe. There are three types the element in these types of packers can be:
- Non-reinforced element: this type is also known as the “balloon” type is known to be prone to failure in certain environments or wellbores because fractures in the well can cause the balloon to be sucked into holes or in between the casing and the bore
- Partial-reinforced element: These elements are added as a safeguard to avoid suction or extrusion into the vacuum between the casing and the bore, unfortunately, it doesn’t protect it from being extruded into fractures though.
- Fixed-end element: Fully-reinforced elements were made to combat all the extrusion mishaps.
Benefits Of Inflatable Packers
Overall, inflatable packers have a good track record to be very cost-effective and efficient especially in the energy industry. Oil isn’t the only field where packers are used, water pressure control, and controlling abandoned wells. It has become very easy nowadays to research packers to find the best type of packer that is suitable for your business or project.
Making sure your inflatable packers are as advanced as possible is the best way to save money, time, and effort instead of wasting it in the maintenance and operation of old-fashioned packers that may only slow you down in terms of progress and extraction.
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