Innovative downhole fracking tools that dissolve after use

SoluMag - dissolvable fracking tools
SoluMag - dissolvable fracking tools

Traditional fracking requires expensive machinery to remove plugs, balls, and other temporary tools that have served their purpose, thus to enable an unimpeded flow of oil and gas. To combat this problem a UK-based company, Magnesium Elektron, has introduced SoluMag™, a proprietary high-strength, soluble magnesium alloy developed specifically for making down-hole oil and gas industry fracking tools that will quickly and safely dissolve after use. Unlike traditional solutions, tools made from SoluMag dissolve completely after use, eliminating the need for such costly intervention.

The soon-to-be-patented SoluMag “dissolves quickly, predictably and at lower temperatures than other soluble materials used in these applications,” according to Guy Roberts, head of sales and marketing for Magnesium Elektron.

The first public showing of SoluMag took place at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Canada, in June. A time-lapse video showed the material being dissolved in saline solution. Also on show were samples at various levels of dissolution, as well as test data covering strength and corrosion rates. This generated a high level of interest from completion companies and tool suppliers and led to initial product sales for laboratory and field testing.

Magnesium Elektron has since announced further product developments, including the ability to customize rates at which the alloy dissolves.

Roberts noted that SoluMag joins a long line of highly specialized magnesium alloys developed by Magnesium Elektron, including SynerMag®, a dissolving alloy now undergoing in-body tests for cardiovascular stents, as well as a wide range of high-performance aerospace alloys, including Elektron® 43, which was recently approved for use in civilian aircraft seats. “Our aerospace pedigree means that our alloys are of the highest quality and consistency, so end-users can be confident that tools made from SoluMag will behave predictably down-hole,” he said.

SoluMag products will next be shown at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Houston, Texas, September 28-30, 2015.

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