E&P Software: GreaseBook meets “Shark Tank”of E&P Software…

Last week, Houston-based SURGE (an accelerator that provides access to capital, customers, and mentors to E&P software and other energy-related companies) extended invitations to 11 of the world’s most promising Energy Startups….

More than 500 companies vied for a seat at the SURGE table and the opportunity to break bread with an elite group of SURGE alumni…

From this year’s applicant pool, SURGE accepted less than 2% of the total applicants. And, with members of the class hailing from such places as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco — Oklahoma City’s GreaseBook is damned proud to round out the mix.

e&p software accelerator

That’s right, SURGE thinks GreaseBook is onto something hot, and has extended a formal invite for GreaseBook to join the ranks of this increasingly elite group of energy & oil software startups!

What does this mean for GreaseBook?

In addition to seed funding, GreaseBook will be given access to 100+ mentors representing the world’s leading experts, policymakers, scientists, decision makers, and influencers in the energy arena…

Surge is only in its third year, and its previous two classes have already gone on to raise $25 million in funding while creating more than 150 jobs…

Some of the industry’s most well-known players (Halliburton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Shell, ABB, Schlumberger, RigNet) are plugged into the SURGE community. Essentially, by joining SURGE, GreaseBook will be granted access to the industry that simply can’t be found anywhere else…

What does this mean for you, the E&P Software User?

While SURGE offers access to leading experts on design and infrastructure of GreaseBook’s operations, when it comes to influencing the direction & functionality of the app, our best asset is YOU — the independent operator.

Not only can our clients going to get a better app, they can also expect an even more dynamic group of folks to service and stand behind it…

We have a whole slew of app enhancements that we’ll be rolling out to our users in the coming months. And guess what? They were all ideas submitted by the GreaseBook community… engineers, owners, admin, supervisors, and pumpers like YOU.

Thanks to the SURGE Accelerator, GreaseBook is ‘pumped’.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.
~GreaseBook

E&P Software

**In November, Surge moved into its own building, a 58,000-square-foot space that also serves as a co-working space for technology entrepreneurs and other E&P Software upstarts.

 

GreaseBook Founder named Up & Coming "Industry Disruptor" by OGM Magazine

Just recently, The OGM (Global Oil & Gas Industry News) featured GreaseBook’s founder & CEO (Greg Archbald) as one of its Up & Coming “Industry Disruptors”!!

From exploring Greg’s definition of “success” to disclosing his role model (W. Axl Rose, notorious front man of 80s rock band Guns ‘N Roses), the article gives the reader some interesting (and fun!) insight into Greg’s life and how he got to where he is today.

We’re proud of everything Greg has accomplished, and even more grateful to The OGM for recognizing his hard work — check out the full article by clicking here:

http://theogm.com/upandcoming/gregarchbald/

 

Oil Production Software: The Consumerization of the Oil & Gas Enterprise

Oil Production Software meets smartphones and tablets…

There’s a big problem in oil & gas: getting the production information from the oilfield back to headquarters.

And, while the mega operators have always had the capacity to collect production information via sensors and telemetry — to the independent oil company, the ‘digital oilfield’ has always been something that lay just out of reach.

Why was this so?

Two reasons:

  • Most operators are spread too thin. Not only are field data collection systems expensive, but they also require a high level to design and deploy.
  • A large majority of the independent operator’s production portfolio consists of marginally producing wells (better known in the industry as ‘stripper wells’). Simply stated: retrofitting these wells with sensors the cost doesn’t justify the means.

However, now the independent operator has options. . . check out the video below (ie sit back and relax while the Big Boys seethe with envy!! 😉 )

**Update: 1/15/2015: We get a lot of people inquiring about this video. Since time of filming, GreaseBook has accomplished nearly everything we set out do in our pitch…

  1. CTO onboarded? Yes, and man this guy is gooooood…

  2. Customer Success Manager and help desk Staff online? Check!

  3. A GreaseBook in every pumper’s truck in America?  At 14,000,000bbls of oil flowed through the app (and counting!), we’re closer than you might think 😉

During SURGE Day at the House of Blues in downtown Houston, GreaseBook pitches its new oil production software platform to a group of more than 500 investors, thought leaders, and potential clients in the energy industry…

Attended by heavy hitters like ShellStatOilConocoPhilips, and Schlumberger, GreaseBook explains how what once was only available to the largest of operators can now be replicated by the independent oilman, with better results, in less than 20 minutes…

Being an independent operator has never been so good!! 🙂

E&P Tanks Software: Oil & Gas Awards Nominate GreaseBook Pumper App

The other day, the Oil & Gas Awards rolled into Oklahoma City to celebrate and recognize all sorts of advances made in the industry over the past 12 months… Among the likes of Halliburton, Continental Resources, and Chesapeake, the Oil & Gas Awards committee named the GreaseBook App (essentially, E&P Tanks Software which assists pumpers in monitoring their oil & gas production) as one of their finalists…

For which award you ask?

The Future Industry Leader Award!

GreaseBook was honored to take part in the ceremony, but was more satisfied knowing that a large number of small to mid-sized operators are recognizing that consumer electronics (ie iPads and iPhones) and cost-effective apps (like GreaseBook!) are enabling them to work smarter, not harder.

The Oil & Gas Awards Committee recognized GreaseBook for “having attained and demonstrated an impressive depth of technical knowledge in its field, and showing an innovative approach to its work.”

For us, that’s code for:

Eliminating those greasy Run Tickets

Empowering your pumpers (thus increasing your oil production…)

Thwarting greedy oil purchasers

**Side note: don’t be shy — click one of the links above!**

Thanks to the Oil & Gas Awards Committee, GreaseBook is humbled.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.

~GreaseBook

Oil Well Monitoring: Oil Well Monitoring with an iPad App

GreaseBook, an iPad app explicitly for oil well monitoring, was recently featured in Hart’s E&P Magazine… check out the article below!

Smart technology provides relief for reporting headaches.

Over the last five years, there has been a major paradigm shift in the source of innovation.

Although the supermajors of the oil and gas industry still contend for the top spot in industry innovation (as demonstrated by their success in exploiting ever deeper, more remote basins), some of the larger E&Ps are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. These companies are saying no to connectivity, restricting the use of smartphones and tablets, and overlooking the applications and convenience their employees have come to enjoy and even depend on in everyday life.

oil well monitoring

Why is this so? Old habits die hard. Large companies look at mobile and pervasive computing from the IT mindset – control and compartmentalize – ahead of the benefits the organization will gain by enabling its teams through the mobile medium. However, with the employee time savings and relative affordability that the mobile medium has to offer E&P companies, smaller operators are taking note. Many of the small- to medium-sized independents have started to look to consumer electronics and cost-effective apps to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour – and squeeze every last drop of oil – from their operations.

David vs. Goliath

The GreaseBook app allows operators to use consumer technology to streamline their wellsite reporting. (Image courtesy of GreaseBook)

Monitor your oil well with an app

For years, the standard protocol of large production companies has been to monitor and execute all deepwater drilling activities via sophisticated satellite networks. Most wells over a certain capex are fitted with real-time optimization tools and sensors. However, for many smaller industry players, the digital oil field has always been a mirage that lay just out of reach.

Most operations managers and field engineers feel they are already spread too thin. Many field data collection systems require a high level of expertise to design, deploy, and operate. These systems also require general IT, control theory, and petroleum engineering skill sets to properly manage. While continually updating risk assessments, quantifying uncertainties, and integrating data across autocratic domain knowledge silos might all be part of an average day at one of the majors, for the smaller players, the cost and energy required does not justify the means.

While large independents and supermajors have entrenched themselves in advanced analytics software, data repositories, and massive IT departments to oversee it all, smartphones and tablet computers have been piggybacking their way into smaller companies. How? In the pockets and purses of the employees who work there.

Oil Well Monitoring: The pen and paper live on

It may surprise most people to learn that in a large majority of independent operating companies, the pen and paper method still remains the dominant form of field data collection. However, this is quickly changing. In most operations, field personnel are contracted to oversee and troubleshoot an operator’s leases. These field personnel usually fill out industry-standard paper gauge sheets. All oil, gas, and water production measurements are handwritten, and (if the operator is lucky) pumpers include any special commentary before mailing or faxing these figures to headquarters.

Although technologies like remote operations and SCADA have sought to address productivity and efficiency issues, many independent operators are of the mindset that a marginal well is going to produce what it is going to produce regardless of whether its production is monitored or not. Even in the case of high-flow wells, most operators require that their pumpers visit these sites several times a day, trumping some of the potential benefits a wireless monitoring device may tout.

When it comes to smaller operators, telemetry providers promoting real-time information may have missed the mark. Many operators are not concerned about immediate information. What they truly desire is a way to streamline the redundancy, reporting, and productivity issues that come with field data collection. What is more, they want a way to make sense of it all. And, with many pumpers fast approaching retirement age, operators are now searching for effective ways to transfer the intimate knowledge they have gained about their production properties to the next generation of engineers, managers, and field workers.

Some forward-looking E&P companies are addressing this through consumer electronics. Because of the shared repositories of information on which these mobile devices subsist, intimate knowledge of a company’s oil and gas assets is not stored away deep in a file cabinet or in some “autocratic domain silo” but is easily accessed via the cloud.

Rather than focus on the management and operations of onsite data servers, a majority (if not all) of the smart device software apps are hosted on the cloud. For the smaller operator, this means that employees can focus on what they are best at: overseeing oil and gas production, not managing complicated IT structure. Every piece of historical production information is stored offsite at a cloud storage provider, from which a relief pumper or a newly hired engineer can easily access needed information for review.

Smaller operators also are becoming more cognizant of the free apps on the iPad and iPhone that are the perfect complements to their business. Many of these apps only take a few minutes to set up but have the potential to yield days in productivity increases from operations managers, field engineers, and pumpers every year. For example, pumpers generally have a task list of things they need to do on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to keep their leases running in top form. By forming pumper message groups in Apple’s Reminder app (which comes standard on every iPad and iPhone), oil and gas operators have an effective way to deliver daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists (e.g. drop soap sticks, pump maintenance, chemical schedules, gas chart calibration, etc.).

Engineers who oversee the operations of small producers are employing free file sharing services such as Dropbox to store and deploy important documents like well completion reports and workover information. Once files are uploaded into Dropbox, employees are no longer tethered to their desktop computers. A field engineer can view a well history file from his tablet or smartphone in the field and share this same file with his team of field personnel.

Pumpers also have been quick to realize that by using the camera function on their smart devices they are able to save an employer thousands of dollars each year. By taking photos or video of problems in the field and posting them to messaging applications, veteran foremen and engineers can visually engage with their production assets. Where once issues could only be resolved through verbal descriptions over the telephone, companies are now able to visually troubleshoot problems from the office, thus avoiding costly onsite service calls.

A new breed of specialized apps has begun to crop up in the oil and gas industry. GreaseBook, an iPad application for operators and their pumpers, has eliminated the need for the traditional paper gauge sheet workflow. The company designed the app to work in oil-producing areas with zero mobile connectivity, and the app touts zero setup time and no contracts. The company has set out to improve the way pumpers record and interact with the vital production information they collect in the field, and the app can potentially eliminate 99% of all in-house, field-related administrative duties.

Operators are happy to outsource many of their core computing and operations processes to third-party companies because of the convenience and amount of time that is saved. What is more, company employees actually want to use these smart devices, which means management does not have to endure the typical push-back of new initiatives.

The platforms on which these smartphones and tablets run are nothing to scoff at. Take Apple, which according to market value surpassed ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable company in 2011. The apps that run on these smart devices are backed by cloud computing heavy hitters like Microsoft and RackSpace Cloud systems and are connected by mobile communications giants like Verizon and AT&T. Essentially, operators feel more comfortable leaving the responsibilities of their core computing and operations processes to third-party consumer companies, not only because of the convenience and amount of time they save but also because these companies dedicate 100% of their resources to providing and perfecting these services.

Democratization of the oil field

Despite the success operators are having with the implementation of these easy-to-use, cost-effective apps, many of the larger operating companies are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. The cost of not going mobile comes in many forms. It comes in the form of not attracting the strongest candidates to replace the industry’s aging work force. And it comes in the form of not making the best decisions due to limited information. These petite E&P companies may soon find themselves the envy of their larger, more “sophisticated” brethren. Something happens when people start to use smart technology. Their focus shifts from “how things get done” to “how things need to get done,” and for owners and managers of E&P companies, this is a welcome transformation.

Well Production Data: GreaseBook well production data app for iPad featured in The Oklahoman

GreaseBook well production data app for operators was recently featured in an article written by the energy editor of The Oklahoman. The article was aptly entitled, “Local software company aims to digitize oilfield”, and addresses GreaseBook’s goal of making  (consumer friendly) technology available to small and mid sized oil and gas producers.

Well production data

Although the concept of the “Digital Oilfield” is nothing new, GreaseBook recognized that the efficiencies gained in the oilfield from going digital have always been a mirage that lay just out of reach for the small E&P. However, with the advent of consumer technology (iPads and iPhones), the larger, “more sophisticated” Super Majors and large independents are eyeing the small(er) producer with increasing envy…

Check out the article here: http://newsok.com/local-software-company-aims-to-digitize-oil-field/article/3872479

Oil and Gas Data Management: GreaseBook on The Energy Makers Show

Last week, The Energy Makers Show interviewed GreaseBook to find out a little more about the app’s approach to oil and gas data management for lease operators in the oil patch…

In the clip below, Russ Capper (Owner/CEO of The Energy Makers Show) talks with Greg Archbald (Founder of GreaseBook) to understand exactly how the app replaces the paper gauge sheet…


The EnergyMakers Show is a weekly video podcast featuring interviews with energy innovators, thought leaders and public policy makers discussing the challenges of the world’s rapidly increasing thirst for energy.

We were thrilled to be a part of the interview, and even more grateful to the Energy Makers Show for spreading the word about GreaseBook — be sure to pay Russ a visit at www.theenergymakers.com!

How To Service An Oil & Gas Production Well

All wells will need to be serviced at some point, either for maintenance or because there’s been a drop in production. To properly service a well, it’s necessary to have a broad understanding of the well’s history, the tools and techniques available, and a range of other information as well. Used well, that information can lead to an extended production life for a well. If wells are not serviced, or not serviced correctly, it can lead to the abandonment of a well that is still capable of producing. Servicing a well may require pulling rods or tubing and running tools downhole.

 

Well Records For Servicing

It’s a good idea to take a look at the records for the well before beginning service. These records will provide specific information about the well that will be important when pulling, servicing, and replacing a tubing or rod string, as well as for running tools down the well. Records can also help indicate any problems, as a look over the history of the well will show production levels, changes, and other factors that may have an impact on the well’s behavior.

Information about the well casing should be examined. The casing information sheet will indicate the distance from the wellhead to the perforations, the distance from the perforations to the bottom of the casing, and  specifics about the perforations. The tubing tally sheet will have similar information for the tubing string. It will list elements that make up the tubing string, such as where the joints of pipe are, as well as information about the packer, the seating nipple, and the mud anchor. All of these will be listed in their order in the string from the tubing head to the bottom. It will also list whatever other equipment may be in the hole. The packer or holddown description will also have this information, but will generally include more detail. That record should include enough information to safely pull the piece of equipment if necessary.

A rod tally sheet will also have important information. The length and size of every rod is listed, as well as type of rod. For tapered rods, the number of each type of rod will also be listed.The tally sheet will also have instructions for releasing a safety joint, and any other special instructions. The pump description is useful if the pump has to be pulled, though a more complete record of the pump used should be included with the lease records.

 

Well Servicing Units

Specially equipped servicing units are required to pull rod and tubing string out of the well. This can be a lengthy process where the tubing and rod sections are brought up and disconnected from the string, which clears the way for the next section to be brought up, and so forth. There are three basic types of servicing units: single pole, double pole, and single mast. Some may have one or two wire drums. With a single drum, it’s possible to run only a single wire down into the well so these units are usually able to either pull rods or tubing, or swab the well, but not both. It is possible to do both by switching lines, though that can be complicated. A double drum unit can run two wires, and so is able to do a wider range of tasks. The smaller single or double pole unit may have either one or two drums, while the mast unit will always have 2 drums.

Servicing units are usually large pieces of machinery which are accompanied by at least one other truck. It’s possible that a whole caravan of support equipment may be necessary, depending on the service you’re performing. It’s important to follow some basic safety guidelines when bringing a service unit to the well site, as well as when operating the unit. Make sure everyone is aware of the plan and what’s going to happen. Have drivers discuss routes and potential problems before setting off, and take similar steps to prepare. A little common sense can prevent larger problems down the road.

 

Single Pole

These units have a single mast and a single drum and are used to service shallower wells. With a single pole unit, the rod or tubing sections will have to be laid out on a rack as they are brought to the surface. These units are small enough that it’s possible to run with them just a crew of two, an operator and somehow on the floor. However, an extra hand is usually a good idea, so getting a third crew member is probably wise.

The pole will most often be in two parts, with the higher section telescoping out of the lower section. The pole will also have to be secured with guy wires. The bottom section may have as many as 8 guy wires, while the upper section will most likely have fewer. The servicing unit base will most often also have guy wires to keep it securely on the ground.

Servicing

Figure 1. Correctly securing guy lines. (courtesy of Williamsport Wirerope Works, Inc.)

When setting up the servicing unit, you’ll want to work from the bottom up, securing each section before moving on to the next. The base of the unit should be secured with guy wires before the lower section of the pole is raised. Likewise, the lower section should be secured before the last section is raised.

That upper section can often be raised to one of several different heights, depending on the type of service. Rods are generally around 25 feet long, so the mast only needs to be raised high enough for the rod to be lifted safely. Tubing section are generally longer, so the pole may need to be raised further. Single pole servicing units are popular with companies that have a number of shallow wells, as they can usually afford to buy one of these units themselves, reducing long term costs.

 

Double Pole

Generally more efficient than single pole units, double pole units are generally able to handle a wider range of tasks. Because of the second pole, rods can be setup and hung in doubles (with two rods being lowered at once), though tubing still can only be run in single lengths. These units can also perform some types of work-over. They do require a slightly larger crew than single pole units, needing three of four people to operate safely.

When you pull the pumping rods, they need to be unscrewed from the rod below in order to be removed. When pulling rods in doubles, either end of the rod may come unscrewed. This unscrewing process is referred to as ‘breaking the box,’ with the box being another name for the female side of the screw. Since either end of the rod may be the one that comes unscrewed, it’s important to return rods into the hole in the order they came out. Each rod has a specific place in the string, based on strength, size, and a number of other factors.

Pulling tubing is a similar process with a few differences. The tubing will be supported by a collar on the lower end, so it’s always the upper joint that is broken. Tubing should be run back in the same order as it was taken out, as mixing up tubing sections usually leads to a higher risk of leaks. Thread lubricant should be used, and the correct torque should be applied when tightening joints. The manufacturer or supplier of the rod will usually have some information, on a card or sheet, that lists how tightly the joints should be made up.

A double pole unit is about the same size as a mast servicing unit, but it’s better suited for shallow or medium depth wells. Many operators like these trucks as they can service most wells, and it’s not unusual for companies to own one of these units.

 

Mast Unit

An example of a mast unit is shown in Figure 2. It’s able to pull more at once, taking tubing in doubles and rods in triples. Rods are racked by a crew member on the derrick, allowing the operation to go quite quickly. Mast units are usually required for deeper wells.

Servicing

Figure 2. A mast style well servicing unit.

How To Prevent Corrosion In Oil & Gas Production

Preventing corrosion damage can extend the life of equipment and increase the efficiency of operations. While some corrosion may be inevitable, a whole range of techniques and materials have been developed that can prevent the chemical and electrical reactions that lead to corrosion. Investing in as many of those as possible while the well is freshly flowing, as there will a bigger budget for new equipment and maintenance.

Many different methods of corrosion prevention will be used together, as most will be targeted at solving one particular type of problem.

 

General Methods Of Corrosion Prevention

There are methods of corrosion prevention that are targeted at specific parts of a pumping operation. As corrosion is a problem throughout all pumping operations, a lot of methods can be used anywhere corrosion is possible.

 

Rust And Oxidation

Rust can be destructive, but in some cases it can be used as a protective coating. Technically known as ferric oxide, rust is the oxidation of iron and metals containing iron. New steel that is left exposed to open air will rust quickly, but as the layer of rust thickens the rate of oxidation slows. The layer of rust scale on metal will eventually act as a protective coating. This idea works best in dry climates like the American Southwest. There, surface lines are often left bare as the rust is never bad enough to cause a leak. Unpainted pipe can be used for decades without a problem.

Oxidation can also be a protective coating on aluminum, copper, and other non-ferrous metals. Aluminum isn’t widely used in oil fields, as it can be easily damaged by acidity.

 

Painting And Coating

Painting is a basic way to prevent oxidation corrosion. Maintaining the coating of paint on tanks, lines, and other equipment is usually a part of regular maintenance. Some materials, such as galvanized steel, stainless steel, and nickel plated pipes don’t need to be painted.

Oil can somewhat protect the inside of lines when the oil isn’t corrosive. Coating on the inside of lines can be used to prevent some types of corrosion, and also occasionally in some tanks. The scale buildup that is the result of minerals in groundwater can actually also act as a lining to protect the inside of lines and tanks.

In the past, it was common to coat the outside of equipment with produced oil if it was going to be stored for a long period. Heavier weight oil with some paraffin can last for a while, and protect almost as well as a coat of paint. Environmental concerns have made it a less popular way to prevent corrosion.

 

Preventing Electrochemical Corrosion

Electrochemical corrosion is caused by a current which pulls electrons from metal in one place and deposits them elsewhere. The loss of electrons eventually leads to weakening of the metal. The current can either be the result of a natural force, like wind producing static, or the result of poor grounding and an electrical leak.

Insulating flanges are widely used to prevent the current flow that leads to electrochemical corrosion. The flanges are added to lines above ground level near the well and the tank battery. The flanges insulated the lines, preventing the flow of electricity.

A sacrificial anode can also be used to protect against electrochemical corrosion. Some types of electrochemical corrosion are caused by a natural battery cell, when two types of metal are immersed in a fluid. Electrons will flow from one piece of metal (called the anode) to a second piece of metal (called a cathode). The anode will be corroded by the loss of the electrons. A sacrificial anode will give up electrons so that the metal of the tank or line are corroded.

Preventing Corrosion

Figure 1. An example of a well used for cathodic protection.

Sometimes electrical current can itself be used to protect against electrochemical corrosion. Shallow wells with sacrificial anodes can be sunk near producing wells. These wells, called cathodic protection wells, allow small amounts of electricity to be sent to to the well and run back up in a circuit to the wellhead.

 

Materials Used For Preventing Corrosion

While steel is the preferred construction material in many cases, there are other materials that are now widely used that are less prone to corrosion.

Fiberglass was once used only as a lining for tanks. Fiberglass tanks are now common, used mostly for water disposal and holding chemicals. They are now also being used as holding tanks for crude oil as well.

Stainless steel fittings and metal plating are commonly used where crude oil is corrosive. Bolts, gaskets and seal rings, and smaller diameter tubing can all be made from stainless steel. Nickel plated fittings are also common. Plastics like polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride are good choices for use in highly corrosive situations.

 

Other Methods Of Preventing Corrosion

Chemicals can be used in some areas where painting, coating, and other methods of prevention corrosion aren’t feasible. These sorts of chemicals are expensive, but effective and constantly improved.

A few simple methods, known as mechanical barriers, can also help to reduce corrosion. Removing wet soil around lines and equipment will greatly reduce oxidation and electrochemical corrosion. Waterproof materials like tarred felt and gravel allow air to flow around lines and vessel. Buried lines can also be tarred and wrapped to keep moisture out.

 

Preventing Corrosion At The Tank Battery

Corrosion prevention at the tank battery is considered to be very important, as oil, water, and other fluids may be sitting in tanks for long periods of time. Before the battery is even constructed, steps can be taken to reduce corrosion problems, for example the ground the tank battery stands on should ideally be higher than the surrounding area, and sloped so that rainwater will run off. Crushed rock is filled under the battery so that air can circulate under the tanks and prevent rust. Tarred roofing felt is then layered over the rock to keep the tanks insulated. Steps to prevent the growth of plants should also be taken, as they can lead to corrosion in a variety of ways. Painting metal is a way to create a basic barrier and reduce corrosion.

Similar steps should also be taken when laying out and installing lines. Standing water and plants should be avoided. However, unlike when placing tanks, lines can’t always be routed to avoid these sorts of hazards. Elevating lines can help protect them somewhat, and coating or wrapping lines can help. Electrochemical corrosion can be reduced by the use of insulated unions, and are available in a range of types.

Preventing Corrosion

Figure 2. An example of a fiberglass wash tank. There is a PVC water leg directly in front of the tank, as well.

Protecting the inside of tanks needs some special materials and techniques. As with the outside, paint is a reliable, basic barrier. For the inside of a tank, you’ll want to use an epoxy paint designed for protecting tank interiors. Fiberglass liners can also be used to protect the inside of tanks, though entire fiberglass tanks are also becoming common.

Preventing Corrosion

Figure 3. This heater-treater has two sacrificial anodes, one to the right of the firebox, and the second directly below it.

There are also some chemicals that can be used to protect the battery against of corrosion, and also protect the whole system. Some chemicals can be injected down into the casing so they can be pumped back to the tank battery. Other general methods of protecting against corrosion, such as sacrificial anodes, can also be used. Sacrificial anodes are particularly useful with heater-treaters; a wire is run from the firebox flange to the anode. Current is sent through the system to the bottom of the heater-treater, which can protect it against pitting.

 

Preventing Corrosion Downhole

Preventing corrosion down the well can be more complicated. There are a few basic steps that can be taken. A ball and seat pump allow gas to escape into the atmosphere, while preventing oxygen from getting downhole and causing corrosion. Other corrosion prevention measures can require more work. However, reducing the impact of corrosion is important. Corrosion can cause holes in the casing that can cause leaks, overflows, and a loss of production.

Simply locating corrosion downhole can be difficult. Temperature surveys should be run on a regular schedule which can help to find leaks. As the fluid escape the casing, it expands and therefore the temperature drops. A casing survey can also help to locate holes in the casing. Gas is injected down into the annular space while the well is shut in, pushing liquids back down to the casing perforations. The gas pressure should remain consistent over a 24 hour period. If the pressure falls, a hole in the casing is allowing the gas to escape. A caliper survey can also help locate corrosion before it results in a hole.

Preventing Corrosion

Figure 4. An example of an insulated flange union used near the well. This particular valve is used to record line pressure.

Other measures include using insulating flanges and sacrificial anodes. These are used in generally the same ways as similar measures in other parts of the system.

The Basics Of Corrosion And Scale For Oil & Gas Production

Scale and corrosion can be a major cause of equipment failure and other problems. Reducing and controlling corrosion is, in many cases, one of the primary ways you’ll be spending your time around an oil and gas lease. It is most often an issue with wells that produce a great deal of water. You can see a few examples of the effects of corrosion and scale buildup in Figures 1 and 3.

Corrosion

Figure 1. Pictured are a few corroded parts, including parts from a downhole pump and a parted rod.

Corrosion

Figure 2. A cross section of tubing showing the scale buildup.

 

Scale and Corrosion Basics

Any reaction between a metal and its surrounding that leads to the breakdown of the metal is corrosion. The environment downhole and at the surface is often a perfect place for corrosion to take place. Many things can cause corrosion, but all involve either a chemical or electrochemical reaction. Chemical corrosion involves a reaction that creates a new compound that takes molecules from the metal, eventually breaking it down. A common example of this sort of corrosion is iron oxide, or rust.

Electrochemical corrosion involves an electrical current which generally is created naturally between two different types of metal. The metal gives up electrons to create the current, which leads to a breakdown of the metal.

A variety of other factors can lead to corrosion. The pH and chemical content of the soil, the type of climate, and many other things can lead to corrosion. Microbiological corrosion, caused by microscopic organisms, can be common in some areas.

 

CO2 Corrosion

Sometimes called sweet corrosion, is common in the southern US and other areas of the world. Carbon dioxide can be found in gas, water, oil, and other fluids produced from a well. Oil that contains a high carbon dioxide content can be difficult to refine, and so special refineries have to be built to handle it. Most of these are located around the Gulf of Mexico. These refineries process most oil with high carbon dioxide content, as they are expensive to build.

Carbon dioxide consists of one carbon atom bonded to two oxygen atoms. When combined with water, carbon dioxide can form carbonic acid. This is a highly corrosive substance that can be dangerous to work with. Carbonic acid will also lead to corrosion, particularly of steel parts. The iron in the tubing, fittings, and other components reacts with the acid to form iron carbonate, which is not as strong as the steel. Components, particularly downhole components, can become pitted or cracked. Corrosion coupons are pieces of metal, ideally of the same type used in the construction of components, that can be inserted in lines. These can be taken out after a certain period of time and analyzed to determine how much they’ve corroded. Using this information, the corrosion damage in the rest of the system can be estimated. Caliper surveys can also be used to measure corrosion. A caliper, a piece of equipment with several metal ‘fingers’, is run along the inside of the tubing to look for pitting and cracks. A variety of chemicals, alloys, and coatings can be used to reduce carbon dioxide corrosion.

 

Hydrogen Sulfide Corrosion

In a little less than half of all wells, hydrogen sulfide is produced from a well along with oil, water, and gas. Generally, the amount of hydrogen sulfide will increase over the production life of the well. When this chemical combines with water, it forms sulfuric acid. This is a highly corrosive and dangerous substance. Corrosion caused by sulfuric acid is often called sour corrosion. This acid forms fairly easily, and can cause a great deal of corrosion below the water level in tanks.

Steps to prevent sour corrosion are similar to those taken to prevent sweet corrosion. Using chemicals, corrosion resistant fittings and components, and linings can reduce damage substantially. Sending chemicals down into the annulus can also be helpful in addressing corrosion downhole.

If the concentration of hydrogen sulfide is too high, it might be necessary to wear a gas mask when gauging and testing oil.

Corrosion

Figure 3. Breathing equipment is necessary when working at this location because of high amounts of hydrogen sulfide.

 

Oxygen Corrosion

Oxidation is the most common form of corrosion. Everyone has encountered it; the rust that you’ll see on metal railings or tools is the oxidation of iron. Oxidation can also happen most metals, including aluminum. Any sort of oxygen corrosion will weaken the metal, making it brittle. When sweet corrosion and oxygen corrosion combine, damage can be accelerated. Keeping oxygen from contacting steel or other metals components is a basic first step in preventing oxygen corrosion; painting metal components is a common way to prevent oxygen corrosion.

Other steps to prevent corrosion include maintaining a blanket of oil over the water, keeping oxygen from contacting it. A system that prevents the open atmosphere from meeting water produced in a well is called a closed system. Conversely, a system that is open to the air is called an open system.  Wells that operate with the casing valve open to the air risk an increase in corrosion. Open systems are sometimes chosen because rust is a common result; a small amount of rust can act as a barrier between metal and air, and help prevent other types of corrosion as well. Water flood operations can also add oxygen to the system, resulting in increased corrosion.

 

Electrochemical Corrosion

In general, there are two types of electrochemical corrosion; one is caused by the leak of an electrical current into the surrounding environment. The other, more common type is the result of a basic and naturally occurring battery cell.

Current in the environment may sometimes be intentional and used to power equipment. More often, it’s the result of an accident or natural force. For example, blowing wind can cause static electricity. Poorly grounded wiring can also lead to current passing through metal pipes.

The second type requires an acidic liquid of some sort, so it occurs downhole or in wet ground. Electrons flow from one metal to the other, from the anode to the cathode. Techniques to prevent this sort of corrosion are called cathodic protection, and usually involve altering electrical flow to protect metal.

 

Scale

Scale is caused by sediment suspended in fluid precipitating out and coating the surface of metal or rock. In the context of drilling, water usually carries minerals in solution as it flows toward the bottom of the well. Scale can actually be a problem in the rock leading up to the wellbore, and not just in the well and other equipment. Scale can actually plug the formation and the perforations in the well. It can also clog tubing and flow lines, and prevent tubing and other equipment from moving up and down the well. It can also collect and form a solid at the bottom of stock tanks. It also can act as a catalyst for electrochemical corrosion, increasing the damage it causes.

Scale can be stopped or at least slowed in the formation. Chemicals can be pumped down into the well to prevent the accumulation of scale. Adjusting the acidity of the well can also help to reduce scale buildup. Fracking methods can also help to open the porosity of the formation.

Corrosion

Figure 4. A wellhead with equipment to prevent scale. The tank for holding chemicals is shown in the background, and to the left of the wellhead is the pump and injection tee.

As with corrosion, there are coatings that can be used to prevent the buildup of scale. There are some varieties that can be applied like paint to equipment used with flowing wells. Pumps would end up damaging the coating, so instead chemicals are circulated down the well that end up coating the pump and other equipment.

An operation may end up having problems with scale for many reasons; sometimes a buildup is inevitable. When this happens, it may be necessary to take the system apart, clean the scale out, and then put everything back together. Chemicals can be used to scour scale out from inside equipment, and it can also be drilled out. This can involve quite a bit of work however, requiring a worker to enter the tank with all the necessary safety requirements.

You can also take some steps to reduce the impact of scale when building the wellhead and tank battery. Hard turns will generally in pipe are more likely to become clogged, while curves with a greater radius have fewer problems.