Region: Permian Basin, Texas
Gate valve maintenance during and after frac treatments was a significant, ongoing cost for a Permian Basin operator. They faced a difficult set of common industry challenges in demanding multi-stage, multi-well, multi-pad programs.
Standard 7-1/16-in. bore gate valves used in the frac tree required frequent replacement of grease lost in the operations – as often as every three or four stages – to mitigate washouts and other internal valve problems. The cost of the large volumes of grease per well was upwards of $5,000, along with associated equipment and personnel.
Even with this maintenance, it was not uncommon for the operator to replace worn gate valves during pumping operations – a time-consuming outlay at +$2,500 an hour in non-productive time, plus related service costs.
Post-frac valve repairs were also common and costly. In addition to standard maintenance, repairs requiring welding and machining were a big expense. Moving from pad to pad typically taxed the operator $22,000 in recertification fees.
Still another maintenance-related concern was safety; the demanding grease maintenance schedule required personnel and high-pressure hoses in red-zone work areas. There was also concern that the large volume of grease lost to the wellbore could potentially affect downhole formation integrity and production.
This broad scope of problems and mitigation efforts defines a historic industry challenge that is inherent to conventional gate valves used in demanding frac applications.
The Magnum SP® frac valve presented a unique alternative to conventional problems with a fundamental change in gate valve design. Its features focused on the two key challenges:
- a patented, grease-retaining design eliminated the need for any additional grease for the duration of onsite operations; and
- premium hard facing in sealing areas greatly enhanced durability for increased service life and reduced post-frac repairs.
In a series of field trials, the operator kept Magnum SP frac valves in service over multiple frac treatments without repair, while eliminating grease maintenance during the job. The same valves were continuously used on different wells and pads, proving a significant advance in performance.
The initial program pumped 134 stages through 4 complete systems consisting of full frac stack and zipper manifold. Throughout the entire onsite operations, there was no additional grease needed and zero equipment failures.
Based on these results, the operator transitioned to Magnum SP valves and pumped 260 stages to complete 5 wells on 2 pads. Like the first application, the valves did not require grease maintenance during the frac jobs or repairs afterward. The unique performance enabled a first-time capability to move valves directly to the next pad.
The same valves have continued to perform without maintenance on subsequent pads. At last count, the valves had been used for 617 stages over 11 wells, and another pad is anticipated. Completed operations included: 3 wells with 180 stages; 2 wells with 80 stages; 4 wells with 265 stages; and 2 wells for 92 stages.
For the 11 wells, grease and associated equipment savings alone totaled over $177,000, and personnel (frac watch) charges of about $3,000/day/pad were eliminated.
The Magnum SP frac valve performance also allowed the operator to move the equipment directly to the next pad without any standard maintenance required between jobs. By using the same valves consecutively on multiple wells and several pads, the operator saved an additional $154,000 in recertification fees.
Ultimately, the operator’s savings totaled over $610,000, or $55,500/well.
FEATURES AND BENEFITS
- Patented, maintenance-free design
- Eliminates adding grease during frac operations, as well as associated maintenance, personnel, and red zone activity
- Proprietary Integral Hard Facing (IHF) on critical sealing surfaces
- Premium metallurgy optimizes sealing for decreased maintenance and replacement costs
- Dual sealing
- Highly reliable sealing in the harshest applications
- Fewer components and half the weight of conventional valves
- Cuts logistics expenses and simplifies wellsite rig up
- Non-elastomeric seals
- Extended temperature and chemical range for efficiency in a broad range of applications