Many of the wells operating in the US shale fields require artificial lift, but almost half of those wells experience failure due to couplings contacting the inner tube wall, which creates friction that leads to considerable wear and damage. These failures can be both dangerous and costly, adding up to tens of thousands of dollars per well per year.
Materion Corp. has partnered with Hess Corp. to come up with an efficient, more cost-effective solution for well workovers. The aim was to develop and field test stronger, more fatigue resistant sucker rod couplings made of ToughMet 3 TS95 alloy. Materion developed a new temper of its ToughMet 3 alloy specifically to address the challenges of coupling on tubing wear. This copper-nickel-tin spinodal alloy was originally engineered for use in drilling equipment. Offering high strength and low friction, this alloy demonstrates corrosion and corrosion-related stress cracking resistance in seawater, chlorides and sulfides. The couplings are non-galling, so they do not damage production tubing, and they retain their strength even at elevated temperatures.
Materion partnered with Hess, a producer in the Bakken, to qualify and pilot the ToughMet sucker rod couplings in deviated wells with higher than normal failure rates. Hess noted that the couplings more than tripled the mean time between failures associated with couplings made of alternative materials. Materion is expanding the deployment of its ToughMet couplings with additional operators in several different shale plays.
Photo Courtesy of Materion