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An Experimental Investigation into Explosive

Decompression of Progressing Cavity Stator


Elastomers Due to Gas Infiltration
Presented by: Mike Guidry, Jr.

Society of Petroleum Engineers


PCP Applied Technology Workshop
September 16, 2002

Definition

Explosive Decompression
Occurs when the internal pressure applied to a material by a
trapped fluid exceeds the tear strength of that material upon
the reduction of external pressure.

PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002

History

Field experience
Well bore gases can infiltrate the elastomers in down hole
service.
Severe explosive decompression damage can result when
there is rapid pressure loss.
Uncontrolled shut down situations
Ordinary well service

PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002

Theory

This discussion only concerns materials which are inert


relative to each other.

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September 16, 2002

Definition

Infiltration (Permeation)
The migration of fluid into or through a lattice.

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September 16, 2002

Theory

Elastomers are permeable.


Permeability varies with the compound structure, properties
of the contact fluid, and environmental conditions.

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September 16, 2002

Theory

Typical Elastomer Structure


Elastomer compounds are generally an amorphous lattice of
long chain molecules.

The long chain molecules are sparsely cross-linked by other


atoms.

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September 16, 2002

Theory

Typical molecular structure of a carbon-hydrogen back


bone elastomer with sulfur cross-links
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Theory

Two highly compressible fluids common to


petroleum wells are:
Methane
Carbon Dioxide

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September 16, 2002

Theory

Methane
Methane is a tetrahedral molecule

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Theory

Tetrahedral molecular structure of methane


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Theory

Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a linear molecule
Linear molecular structures have the smallest cross-section of
the typical molecular structures.

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Theory

Linear molecular structure of carbon dioxide


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September 16, 2002

Theory

Fluid pressure exceeding the pressure applied by


the elastomer typically results in one or more of the
following:
Deflection
Tearing
Infiltration

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September 16, 2002

Theory

Carbon dioxide infiltrating the elastomer lattice


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September 16, 2002

Theory

Explosive decompression occurs when:


The rate of decompression exceeds the rate of permeation
The pressure of the infiltrate fluid exceeds the tear strength
of the elastomer

PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002

Testing

Can explosive decompression damage be minimized


through compound selection and field implementation
technique?

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September 16, 2002

Testing

Test Method
Samples of different 5 compounds were prepared in the form
of a progressive cavity stator.
1 sample of each compound was loaded into 5 separate test
cylinders.
Each cylinder was then loaded with the test fluid and rotated
for the duration of the test.

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September 16, 2002

Testing

Figure 1. Test Sample

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Testing

Test Parameters
1000 PSI (6.895 MPa)
75F (24C)
71 hours

PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002

Testing

Fluid Composition by Volume Fraction


Cylinder A

water 100%

Cylinder B

water 80%

carbon dioxide 20%

Cylinder C

water 70%

carbon dioxide 30%

Cylinder D

water 60%

carbon dioxide 40%

Cylinder E

water 70%

carbon dioxide 30%

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September 16, 2002

Testing

Decompression Rates
Cylinders A-D

-- controlled decompression rate

Cylinder E

-- maximum decompression rate

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Results

Compound 1

Compound 2

Compound 3

Compound 4
Compound 5
Cylinder A -- 1 Hour Post Decompression
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Results

Compound 1

Compound 2

Compound 4

Compound 3

Compound 5

Cylinder C -- 1 Hour Post Decompression


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Compound 1

Results

6 hours

70 hours

Compound 4

1 hour

Cylinder C -- Post Decompression Time Dependence


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Results
Compound 1

Compound 4

0% Carbon Dioxide

20% Carbon Dioxide

Post Decompression Volume Fraction Dependence


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Results
Compound 1

Compound 4

30% Carbon Dioxide

40% Carbon Dioxide

Post Decompression Volume Fraction Dependence


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September 16, 2002

Results
Cylinder C
7 psi/min

Decompression Rate

Cylinder E
400 psi/sec

1 hour

70 hours

Compound 4 -- Decompression Rate Dependence


PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002

Conclusion

Explosive Decompression Damage Factors


Volume fraction of compressible, infiltrate fluid
Rate of decompression
Duration at lower pressure
Elastomer compound

PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002

Conclusion

Reducing Explosive Decompression Damage


Select the proper elastomer compound
Minimize the rate of decompression
Minimize the duration at low pressure

PCP Applied Technology Workshop

September 16, 2002