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Pragma To Begin P&A Field Trials of Additive-Manufactured Bridge Plug

Pragma is bringing the industry’s first 3D metal printed, ultrahigh expansion bridge plug to market, the Aberdeen-based company said in a press release. Its patented M-Bubble bridge plug has successfully completed final lab testing and is due to begin field trials by the end of 2020.

Initially targeted at both the plug-and-abandonment (P&A) sector and water shutoff applications, the first M-Bubble addresses a gap in the market for a lower-cost, fast-turnaround, permanent plugging solution, with a high pressure differential (3,000 psi) capability, the company said. The plug can be set without additional cement to save rig time and “waiting-on-cement” time, which can accumulate significant savings for the operator, especially in deeper, extended-reach wells. It also provides barrier-integrity reassurance when there is the possibility of a poor cement bond or cement channeling occurring on the high side of deviated wells, the company added.

Using a specialist Inconel alloy, the strength imparted by additive manufacturing plus the 300% expansion ratio of the bridge plug makes it well suited for large internal-casing diameters For example, a 2.625-in. outer diameter plug can be run through a 3.5-in. tubing string, navigate internal restrictions, and then be expanded into a compliant shape within a 7-in. casing, according to Pragma.

The plug has been designed to be universally suited to industry-standard mechanical or pyrotechnic setting tools, run on slickline, electric line, or coiled tubing and is in line with established additive-manufacturing (AM) codes and guidelines, as well as emerging oil-and-gas specific AM codes such as DNVGL-ST-B203.

Pragma added its prototype production has demonstrated extremely high levels of repeatability, not found in conventional machining. The AM process can halve delivery times so products are produced on demand, resulting in less stockpiling and lower costs.

Stuart Cowen, technical sales manager at Pragma, said, “We are now in discussion with a range of parties who are interested in collaborating to develop the M-Bubble range further. The next stage is the addition of slips, to achieve ISO 14310:2008 V3 rating. The V3 trials will also test the internal mechanism that makes the plug retrievable, which is currently disabled for cost-effective P&A deployments. Introducing retrievable plugs will extend the product capability to zonal isolation applications and temporary water shutoff in horizontal wells. Retrofit high-expansion solutions for slimmer 3.5-in. 

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