As the U.S. onshore unconventional oil and gas E&P effort continues to grow, the demand for connection performance increases as operators push the envelope in their quest to reach more challenging reservoirs and increase lateral reach.
“We knew from our own experience and from hearing the operators’ needs that longer reach lateral wells being drilled or planning to be drilled required more out of semipremium connections,” said Aaron Walsh, manager of engineering services for Hunting Energy Services. “They may have to push on it more, so compression is needed. They may have to rotate it more, so torque is an issue. We knew that a slimmer wedge-type connection that could provide the compression and performance, much like a threaded and coupled connection would, was needed.”
To address these requirements, Hunting developed the TEC-LOCK semipremium connection that features close-tolerance and wedge-style thread forms as an alternative offering to premium connections. This new product family consists of TEC-LOCK BTC, TEC-LOCK BTC-S and TEC-LOCK Wedge.
“We incorporated the design philosophies and characteristics of our WEDGE-LOCK semiflush premium connection that has had great success in the Gulf of Mexico into a smaller outer diameter [OD] connection size for the onshore market,” Walsh said.
The BTC and BTC-S connections are close-tolerance thread forms that minimize connection stresses and eliminate the open J area, thus creating a flush inner diameter for turbulent-free flow and reduced tool hang-ups. Available in 4.5-in. to 9.625-in. sizes, the connections deliver multiple make-and-break capabilities. The TEC-LOCK Wedge features a semiflush OD and offers extremely hightorque capabilities and maximum axial efficiencies. The “wedge” thread profile provides full pipe body compression performance and increased torque ratings.
“The connection’s integral connection design eliminates the need for a coupling through the use of an expanded box that is less than the standard API [American Petroleum Institute] coupling diameter,” Walsh said. “This helps to improve clearance, circulation and cementing while also reducing drag, not to mention the operational and economic advantages that come with eliminating the coupling. To reduce running time on the rig, the Wedge connection makes up quickly, signifi cantly reducing overall rig running time and further saving the customer money in operating costs.”
When used with Hunting’s SealLube thread sealant, the Wedge connection provides gas sealability on a product without a metal-to-metal seal.
Designing the connection is one thing; however, validating the connection’s performance prior to bringing it to market is the primary concern. The company’s engineering team performed rigorous full-scale physical testing on the TEC-LOCK Wedge. Comprehensive make-and-break and torque-to-failure tests were performed to evaluate the robust connection thread’s resistance to damage at extreme torques. From there, the connection was tested for gas sealability in a combined load test to validate its use for gas wells. Finally, the connection went through cyclical fatigue testing to establish the connections survivability in applications where drilling, reaming or rotating while cementing operations are required. All tests concluded successfully, met all expectations and conclusively validated the stated performance of the connection.
TEC-LOCK Wedge provides the ability to achieve longer laterals with extreme torque and gas sealability without using costlier premium connections. Reducing operational costs by quicker makeup and run time, eliminating the issues and limitations associated with couplings while at the same time mitigating risks of overtorqueing the connection, Hunting’s TEC-LOCK Wedge connection provides premium performance while maintaining the required economics of the highly competitive semipremium market.
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