“Eliminating friction from downhole drilling, delivering major time/cost savings” – By Tim Wagner, ProOne
For The Petroleum Magazine (Latin America)
Globally, the oil and gas industry operates on such a huge exploration and production (E&P) scale that savings of up to $1 million per well in downhole drilling are a real attention-getter for operators. Now, not only small drilling companies with a few wells but large companies with many more are “doing the math” after seeing a new commercialized R&D deliver major time/cost savings for their companies.
While the development may have a plain appearance – it’s a lubricant or drilling mud additive — the news is actually extraordinary. Remember its name, XPL+ (Xtreme Pressure Lubricant), because after virtually reducing friction to zero in the entire downhole drilling system on 700 North America wells, it will soon be everywhere. Distributed exclusively by DistributionNOW, spun off from oilfield service giant National Oilwell Varco, operators are having it delivered from any of 38 distribution points internationally to their drill sites as quickly as it can be loaded out.
With the four production leaders Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina accounting for approximately 8.5 of every 10 of Latin America’s more than 9 million bpd, this region’s massive rig count and crude production make a real efficiency statement for those countries alone. Their daily output should put a revolutionary downhole lubricant top-of-mind for drilling executives and purchasing agents. The message is clear for operators just now hearing about XPL+ : it’s time for changing to a futuristic lubricant.
Why the excitement?Why? A few years ago, R&D scientists at ProOne, with dual headquarters in Houston, TX and Orange County, CA, had an idea in the lab. And they paired a positively charged molecular structure with a strong ionic (+) charge. Results were astounding, providing 50 times the film strength of conventional lubricants and the ability to bond to metal even when subjected to the most extreme downhole heat and pressure.
When this discovery was taken from the lab into lubricant production and then to the field, the real test happened at drill sites. At first, operators were reluctant to switch to a new lubricant but they readily became “willing to give it a try” when they encountered the typical drilling challenges that nobody and no product had been able to solve before. After adding XPL+ to their drilling mud, all the talk about migrating toward heat and pressure instead of away, bonding to any metal anywhere downhole and having unheard-of film strength suddenly became real and not sales talk.
Operators found that the wide-ranging solutions provided by this lubricant, and not by a dazzling, expensive piece of rig hardware, were beyond what they could have imagined. For example, this drilling mud additive greatly improves Rate of Penetration (ROP); provides a much longer lifecycle for mud pumps and motors as well as drill bits; helps free stuck pipe, a problem which has stymied drillers seemingly forever; ensures that less corrosion and wear will occur throughout the downhole system; a remarkable reduction of 20-50% in torque and drag; and steering and sliding will be considerably easier.
Without a doubt, those capabilities impressed operators and would have been enough to make them extremely pleased with this game-changing lubricant. They were experiencing a big reduction in time normally wasted on “impossible” problem-solving and also getting monetary savings that looked exceedingly good on the balance sheet. Yet they started seeing even more XPL+ benefits. In fact, they could have drawn up “To Do” lists to see if the additive would be the solution for deviated wells, top drive overheating, long horizontals, maintaining weight on bit (WOB), setting casing faster, drilling curves in half the time, greatly reducing hook load…and reducing the tremendously costly number of trips on each well. In every single instance, after the additive solved each problem once again, they could check these items as a “yes,” much to the surprise of longtime oilfield veterans.
Case study successes throughout oilfield
Of course, customers are always the first-hand experts on how well a product such as ProOne’s XPL+ works in downhole drilling systems. And operators throughout the oilfield have been glad to speak up in one case study after another. For example, a major operator in Texas increased performance, solved major problems and saved a total of more than $300,000 through results including reduced trips, using fewer drill bits, reducing drill curve time, greatly reducing torque and increasing the important ROP. Other operators reported unprecedented results, too, which were not affected adversely by drill site location or downhole strata. When a New Mexico operator completed the longest lateral in the state’s history, various other accomplishments occurred along the way. Included were a huge (50-percent) torque reduction, an ROP increase of almost 30-percent and tripping out at more than 3,000 feet further than without this technologically advanced lubricant.
And, among many other case studies of satisfied customers, is an operator on the U.S. west coast who experienced a 45-percenr reduction in torque. This caused the operator to state that in his three decades of oilfield work, these torque results far surpassed what he had previously observed. Whether saving up to $100,000 on mud motors and drill bits to saving ½-million dollars from higher ROP and fewer trips to saving as much as $1 million by minimizing twist off risk and freeing stuck pipe, XPL+ has become a genuine success story for operators.
When a drilling mud additive virtually eliminates all the friction from a downhole drilling system, rewriting the book on solving major challenges, what other benefits could it offer? Actually, XPL+ delivers an important “extra” environmentally: it is 100-precent biodegradable per very strict international standards and works equally well both onshore and offshore while being non-toxic to marine life. Within only 16 days, the product is 60% biodegraded and that jumps to 83% biodegradation within one month.
Tested and certified by leading testing laboratories, proven in real world applications and used by operators successfully in more than 700 wells, ProOne’s revolutionary lubricant is becoming the new additive in mud pits globally.
Mark Holland is with www.pro1energy.com
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