Making Use of Frac Plugs and Balls

Fracturing the ocean floor for natural gas, or “fracking,” is a form of harvesting fossil fuels for American use today. Natural gas is used in many houses and commercial buildings today for power, and this has proven to be an efficient and useful source of power for many years. In fact, it does not release nearly as many harmful emissions into the air as coal or oil do, making it among the more attractive fossil fuels. It is not purely a clean fuel like solar panels or wind farms, but for the time being, natural gas has its role to play in the modern American energy grid. This gas must be extracted first, however, and materials such as liner hangers, frac balls, frag plugs, coil tubing, and more are all used in such mining work for completions on the job. Gas mining completions may be made even faster with modern innovations such as frac balls, and these timely completions mean that work can be made more profitable. How might this work?

Mining for the Gas

Work must be done to extract that natural gas from the ocean floor. Horizontal directional drilling, for example, has proven effective. This is when specialized methods for underground conduit installation is done with minimal damage to the surrounding natural environment. There’s a large market for this, and the worldwide horizontal directional drilling market is estimated to reach new heights in the coming years. It may enjoy a CAGR, or “compound annual growth rate,” of 13.2% or so from 2019 until 2025 or so. As of 2018, for context, the global market for horizontal directional drilling was valued at $7.37 billion USD, and it will almost definitely reach a greater total value during the 2020s.

What about the hardware that makes mining completions possible? Frac plugs are involved when miners are drilling for natural gas, and these frac plugs tend to be 22-30 inches in length for optimal work. However, frac balls may be used in a ball sleeve drop system to cut down mining time by quite a wide margin, for more time-effective completions on the job. Wells may be brought online if such a system is used, saving money the entire time. This system may replace the “plug and perforate” technique entirely when implemented, meaning that the miners don’t even have to make repeated trips to prepare each zone for hydraulic drilling. If this is done correctly, then a crew may spend only a fraction of the time on a natural gas deposit that they normally would. In turn, this means that a crew may mine a few times more natural gas deposits in a given time frame than otherwise, and this is good news because many miner crews are being asked to mine more gas than they can deliver otherwise.

During this mining process, a number of balls will be pumped through the completion string in order to access the formation during mining. In each stage, over 20 different sleeves can be installed into a single cemented liner, and therefore opened with just one ball. At any one time, up to 22 different stags may be run during mining operations. Conditions of the mining operation, meanwhile, may influence the number of valves found in each stage. In a single, continuous process, the well may be completed, and water use efficiency will be high during that work.


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