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3 Practical Use Cases for a Quick-Setting Tubing Anchor Catcher

Shawn Dickerson | September 18, 2023

In the oil and gas industry, the need for reliable, efficient, and innovative technologies has never been more pressing. Engineers often find themselves grappling with a variety of complex scenarios—from deep wells and high-pressure environments to limited access locations and wells prone to debris or turbulent flow. Each of these unique situations presents its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to setting a tubing anchor catcher (TAC).

Traditionally, the process of setting an anchor involves 6-8 turns. While this method has been effective for standard operations, there are scenarios where this traditional approach falls short. That’s where the concept of a quick-setting tubing anchor—an anchor that requires only 1-2 turns to be fully set—comes into play.

The idea of a quick-setting tubing anchor isn’t just about speeding up a routine task; it’s about optimizing performance in specialized conditions. Petroleum engineers often face situations where the conventional methods are not only inefficient, but potentially risky as well. This article explores distinct use cases, showing why quick-setting anchors are more than beneficial; in some scenarios, they’re essential.

Use Case 1: Quick-Setting Tubing Anchors in Deep Wells

Deep wells present a unique set of challenges when it comes to setting anchors. The depth of the well itself can make it difficult to generate enough torque at the surface to set the anchor securely. Additionally, the longer the tubing string, the more likely it is to experience significant torsional wind-up, making the setting process even more complicated, especially in grades of steel that exhibit reduced torsional rigidity.

A quick-setting tubing anchor that requires only 1-2 turns would be beneficial in these environments. Not only would it reduce the time and effort required to set the anchor, but it would also minimize the surface torque required to do so. This device could significantly enhance the reliability and safety of operations in deep and deviated wells where additional torque is required to overcome drag.

Use Case 2: Wells with Extreme Wellbore Geometry

Certain drilling conditions can cause a borehole to develop high dog-leg severity or take the shape of a corkscrew. Trenchlesspedia defines dog-leg severity as the “measure of the change in direction of a wellbore over a defined length, normally measured in degrees per 100 feet of length. The more severe a dogleg is, the more potential difficulties arise due to the drill string passing through a curved well trajectory.” Similarly, a corkscrew well—one that spirals downward—can also create downhole challenges.

In the case of tubing anchors, extreme wellbore geometry like these examples can make it difficult for the anchor to fully set, particularly if 6-8 turns are required. The directional changes within the well make it difficult to apply the necessary string torque with surface rotations. A quick-setting anchor overcomes this obstacle by reducing the amount of string torque required to fully set the anchor.

Use Case 3: Horizontal Wells

The number of horizontally drilled oil wells in the United States continues to rise. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “In 2021, 81% of U.S. well completions were horizontal or directional, as opposed to 19% of wells that were drilled vertically.” With this change, the need for quick-setting tubing anchors is rising as well. Like the challenges inherent in deep wells, setting a tubing anchor in the bend of a horizontal well can make it difficult to generate enough torque at the surface to set the anchor securely. Setting the TAC in 1-2 turns is much more practical in horizontal wells than the 6-8 turns required by a traditional anchor.

The Slimline® QuickSet™ Tubing Anchor Catcher

To address these and other use cases, TechTAC® introduced the Slimline® QuickSet™ TAC. This quick-setting anchor can enhance the performance and design of many downhole production strings. The Slimline QuickSet TAC provides all the same benefits as the original Slimline – such as increased flow-by capacity – but with the added ability to set the slips in just 1-2 turns.

The concept of a quick-setting anchor offers distinct advantages in a variety of well scenarios. It’s not just about ease; it’s about enhancing safety, efficiency, and reliability. For petroleum engineers tackling challenging well operations, choosing the Slimline QuickSet TAC could be a game-changer.