As the oil industry drills deeper and moves into harsher operating environments, performance demands on materials are increasing. AMI and the Materials Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL) are organising the 7th international MERL Oilfield Engineering with Polymers conference to discuss the latest developments.
This event brings together those with interests in polymeric materials from across the Oil and Gas industry, including operating companies, contractors and suppliers of equipment, components and materials from all over the world. The theme of the conference is “meeting operational challenges”. This requires co-operative development by the supply chain and is reflected throughout the conference. The session on sealing includes the ExxonMobil operator’s perspective as well as the latest developments from the seal manufacturer James Walker, and a fluoroelastomer supplier, Daikin.
One of the major ongoing operational challenges is the increasing temperature extremes of the service environment and this will be discussed for composites, thermoplastics and elastomers. Another challenge for the industry is the qualification of polymeric components for long term operation where the effects of both the mechanical loading and chemical environment need to be accounted for. Lifetime studies have been conducted by Hutchinson Research Centre on elastomeric parts, Teijin Aramid on aramid fibres, and Evonik Industries on ageing of polyamides offshore.
The need for weight reduction, increased stiffness and corrosion resistance has resulted in increased demand for composite materials with enhanced capabilities. One growing market is composite pipes, and their use in oilfields will be outlined by the China National Petroleum Corp. and Ameron. Schlumberger Canada has focused research on improving composites in a set of research projects.
Statoil has reviewed crack growth in PVDF pressure barriers of flexible pipes, comparing theory with actual case studies, and Technip-Flexi France has looked at new low plasticised PVDF in flexible pipe. Pipe linings are the topic of investigation by Ticona, Victrex and Swagelining.
As with all operations involving fluids that include gases at high pressure, there is the ever present need to consider the resistance of polymeric materials to rapid gas decompression damage. Baker Hughes has considered the use of PAEK in high pressure/high temperature (HP/HT) sealing. Green Tweed has studied new patented polymers based on polyarylene ethers with a glass transition temperature of about 280C. DuPont is well established in the oifield markets with high performance fluoropolymers for wire and cable applications, and has new perfluoroelastomers for sealing under conditions of low temperature and rapid gas decompression conditions. Lanxess Deutschland is working on improved resistance to explosive decompression using hydrogenated nitrile rubber seals. Solvay Polymers also supplies perfluorelastomers for sealing. MERL itself has worked with a variety of partners including Clwyd Compounders on new elastomers for downhole uses with resistance to steam, supercritical carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide.