HISTORY PUBLIC RELATIONS
Operation Pluto (Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean) was a World War II operation by British scientists, oil companies and armed forces to construct undersea oil pipelines under the English Channel between England and France. The scheme was developed by Arthur Hartley, chief engineer with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Allied forces on the European continent required a tremendous amount of fuel. Pipelines were considered necessary to relieve dependence on oil tankers, which could be slowed by bad weather, were susceptible to German submarines, and were also needed in the Pacific War. This is where the idea of Coiled Tubing was created and started from.
CT, as a well service tool, was originally developed in the early 1960’s and has become a key component of many well service and workover operations. Well service or workover applications still account for over three-quarters of CT work. However, the recent and more advanced use of CT technology for completion and drilling applications is rapidly gaining popularity.
The major driving force behind the original use of CT was a desire to perform remedial work on a live well. To do this, three developments were required:
- A continuous conduit capable of being inserted into the wellbore (CT string).
- A means of running and retrieving the string into or out of the wellbore while under pressure (injector head).
- A device capable of providing a dynamic seal around the tubing string (stripper or packoff device).
- In the early 1960’s, a device was developed by Bowen Tools to deploy antennas aboard submerged submarines. The antenna, a 0.625 in. brass tube, was spooled onto a reel for storage and was capable of reaching the surface from a submerged depth of 600 ft. This system used the same principle of the contra-rotating chain drive that would be later adopted for CT injectors.
- In 1962, Bowen adapted the injector design used on the antenna deployment for the prototype that was developed with the California Oil Company.
In 1962, the California Oil Company and Bowen Tools developed the first fully functioning
CT unit, for the purpose of washing out sand bridges in wells.
The first injector heads (Figure 2.2) operated on the principle of two vertical, contra-rotating chains, a design still used in the majority of CT units today. The stripper was a simple, annular- type sealing device that could be hydraulically activated to seal around the tubing at relatively low wellhead pressures.
Following the success of the Bowen Tool / California Oil Company efforts, in 1964, Brown Oil Tools and Esso collaborated to develop a system that utilized a slightly different principle for the injector design. Instead of a set of contra-rotating chains to grip and drive the tubing, the tubing was squeezed between a single chain and a grooved drive wheel. The entire unit was mounted in a mast type assembly that suspended the CT injector head above the wellhead.
Throughout the remainder of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s, both Bowen Tools and Brown Oil Tools continued to improve their designs to accommodate CT up to 1 in. OD. By the mid-1970’s, over 200 of the original-design CT units were in service.
In the late 1970’s, injector design was influenced by several new equipment manufacturing companies (Uni-Flex Inc., Otis Engineering, and Hydra Rig Inc.).
While injector heads were being improved, the CT strings were also undergoing some significant development.
The early commercial period of CT services (the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) was dominated by tubing sizes up to 1 in. and relatively short string lengths. The tubing diameter and length were limited by the mechanical properties of the tubing material and manufacturing processes available at the time.
Early CT operations suffered many failures due to the inconsistent quality of the tubing strings. A major portion of the problem related to the numerous butt welds present in the assembled tubing string.
By the late 1960’s, tubing strings were being milled in much longer lengths with fewer butt welds per string. At the same time, steel properties improved. The resulting improvement in string reliability significantly benefited CT services.
In 1969, Southwestern Pipe Inc. began manufacturing CT using improved material and techniques. Another company, Quality Tubing Inc., started manufacturing tubing in 1976 using a process similar to Southwestern Pipe.
During the 1980’s, CT materials and strings improved significantly, and the maximum practical CT size increased to 1.75 in. By 1990, the first 2 in. tubing was being produced, followed shortly by 2.375 in., 2.875 in., and 3.50 in.
Through the last 15 years of the 20th century the CT service industry grew at a very rapid rate of about 20% per year. Many attribute this growth to the improvements in the pipe manufacturing process developed in the 1980’s. These developments significantly improved the reliability of CT services, allowing them to gain wider acceptance. A “wave” of excitement developed in the industry, and many new CT applications were developed.
Titanium was started in 2006 in Alberta Canada with one Coil Tubing Unit. Titanium has since crown to operate over twenty coiled tubing rigs, five cased-hole wireline units, five body style flameless N2 pumpers and bulk product services.
Titanium supports a full range of coil tubing, electric coiled tubing, wireline services both slick-line and electric line, complete with full logging and perforating services along with a full array of other cased hole wireline services.