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TETRA Automated Drillout System to enhance wellbore management

Published by , Deputy Editor
Oilfield Technology,

In four months of incident-free operation, the TETRA automated drillout system, which was deployed to Appalachia and used in unconventional gas wells, drilled out more than 2300 plugs without the need to pull a screen. The operation reduced the time for rig-up/rig-down by 40%, reduced risk exposure by 33.3%, and damages per plug by 64.5%, from US$48 to US$17.

Inception of the equipment began when a major operator of unconventional gas wells in Appalachia approached TETRA seeking a safer plug-drillout solution requiring less time. The main challenge of a standard drillout operation is the exposure to hazards with workers having to manually adjust valves, pull screens for cleaning, and change line connections around equipment under very high pressures. Another challenge is the logistic complexity of engaging multiple service providers, opening the drillout operation to potential miscommunication, mistakes, nonproductive time, and costly inefficiency.

At the operator’s request, TETRA engineers designed an integrated, single-skid, drillout system that is remotely operated via the TETRA BlueLinxTM automated control system. The new system eliminates manual control of valves and pulling junk-catcher screens, thus reducing both exposure to HSE risk and the time needed to conduct drillout. The system provides remote control of the valves, manifold, junk-catchers, and emergency shutdown, as well as real-time monitoring of flowrates, pressures, pressure differentials, plug weights, tank levels, and other metrics.

The TETRA drillout system also enhances wellbore management during drillout, enabling pre-programmed valve sequencing, consistent pressures and flowrates without large swings when switching sides of the dual system, and the flushing of plug parts from junk-catchers at a chosen flowrate.

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