Frac Plug Pump Down Efficiencies and Techniques
- Zachary Walton (Halliburton) | Matthew Nichols (Halliburton) | Michael Fripp (Halliburton)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 30 September - 2 October, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2019. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Frac Plugs, Pump Down, Hydraulic Fracturing, Dissolvables, Efficiency
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- 238 since 2007
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Plugs for hydraulic fracturing generally are pumped into horizontal wellbores. Initially, the goal was to get the plugs to depth without careful consideration of the amount of water used in the pumping. As the industry has grown, a better understanding of pump-down methods and techniques has resulted in a realization that these pumping inefficiencies should be improved.
When completing a horizontal well using the plug-and-perf technique, water is required to push the bottom hole assembly (BHA), containing a frac plug, to the target depth. With over one million frac plugs having been pumped in North America, large data sets are available to quantify the pump-down efficiency of these operations. This past information, along with a working model of how pump down works, can be used to promote improvements in pump-down efficiency, reducing water usage and rig time.
The efficiency of the pump-down operation can be calculated based on pump time, displacement volume, and the actual volume of fluid pumped. This type of information can be recorded during operations. The pump-down efficiencies can be calculated as a percentage of actual versus calculated volumes pumped and is often expressed as a relational number, such as how much fluid is needed per 100 feet of casing. These numbers can be used as a metric for the amount of water and time required to move the plug to its desired location.
Over 10,000 frac plug pump downs from diverse North American regions were analyzed to attain a baseline for efficiency during frac plug pump down operations. The force, pressure, and fluid velocity effects acting on the BHA during pump down were analyzed to understand how to better quantify methods and designs that increase or decrease efficiency. Finally, procedures were mapped out on the operational units used in pump down to understand the potential impacts on efficiency.
The result is a guide on gauging pump-down efficiency of past operations while understanding methods to increase these efficiencies in the future. This framework can be used to view how a frac plug is pumped downhole while understanding the relationships that control its efficiency. This model can be used to evaluate past operations as well as design for future operations to increase overall efficiencies and decrease water usage and time on location.
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