In 2024, Spears & Associates predicts a staggering 660,000 stages will be pumped in North America, marking a 20% increase from 2023. The surge is attributed to increased well lateral lengths and shorter frac stages. Wells are extending, and stages/ft are increasing. Each stage relies on a frac plug to provide isolation, and removing these plugs is a crucial step before putting the well into production.

Plug and Perf

The plug & perf completion procedure involves pumping a wireline BHA (bottom hole assembly), which includes a plug, setting tool, and perf guns, to a desired wellbore. The setting tool sets and releases the plug into the well, allowing the guns to perforate the above stage. After removing the wireline, fracking begins. This process repeats until the entire well is treated. The final step is removing the plugs and cleaning out the well. A drill bit is deployed on tubing (stick pipe or coiled tubing) to clean out the plugs and combines weight and rotation to cut/ground the plugs/debris into small pieces that circulate out with fluid.

The tubing and clean-out BHA run through the vertical section and into the lateral. The weight of the tubing in the vertical section helps to apply weight to the plugs in the lateral section. As the ratio of lateral to vertical shrinks, the ability to use the weight needed to drill out composite plugs diminishes. If the well dynamics limit drilling out a composite plug, it can significantly affect production from the lateral below the plug.

A Dissolvable Solution

One solution to the clean-out challenge is to use a dissolvable frac plug. Dissolvable frac plugs use materials, mostly magnesium alloys that degrade in the wellbore fluid. Ideally, the plug disintegrates into small particles of metal and rubber that circulate out of the well without needing weight on a bit.

Added Complexity

For a plug to perform flawlessly, it has to:

  1. Be affordable
  2. Pump down efficiently
  3. Hold up to 10,000 psi (this force is 200,000 lbs in 5.5″ casing)
  4. Clean out easily

While choosing a dissolvable will help with the 3rd goal, it adds complexity to the other three factors. Magnesium alloys are expensive, and suppliers aim to design affordable products with minimal material. Producing the most material-efficient product could impact the plug’s ability to hold higher pressures or pump down efficiently.

Recent papers, like this one, and presentations indicate that dissolvable plugs struggle to provide the same isolation level as composite counterparts.

The chosen alloy must ensure the plug doesn’t dissolve before frac completion dissolves quickly enough for clean-out.

WellBoss Delivers

You are only providing a frac plug if you provide competent isolation.

From the start, The WellBoss prioritizes frac isolation. Over a decade of development, we have perfected the balance of isolation, pump-down, and economics to deliver the best-in-class composite frac plug. When we began developing a dissolvable solution, we aimed to infuse the same “DNA” into all the products we create. The outcome of this endeavor is the SoluBoss Dissolvable Frac Plug.

SoluBoss

Comparing the SoluBoss to the Boss Hog, demonstrates our success in providing a dissolvable solution with the best features from the Boss Hog Frac Plug.

Pump Down

Most dissolvable plugs are run at the toe (bottom) of the well, which involves pumping the plug and wireline BHA out into the furthest reaches of the wellbore. The toe stages require the most water and time to for deployment. To reduce deployment costs, we’ve included the HELISEAL pump-down feature. The HELISEAL includes a dissolvable structure coated in a flexible material that enables the plug to respond to the pump-down rate to capture more fluid and increase efficiency. Increased efficiency allows faster pump-down at a lower rate, potentially saving on water costs by selecting SoluBoss.

Case History: On a trial in the Rockies, the SoluBoss was being run compared to two other providers. The SoluBoss saved 65% fluid compared to Competitor 1 and 60% fluid compared to Competitor 2, between 600-800 bbls per plug.

Isolation

The primary job of a frac plug is to isolate the well below the current stage. Operators invest thousands of dollars and hours planning each stage, considering factors such as perf orientation, perf size, quantity per stage, and the frac stage pumping schedule. The objective is to maximize production from the reservoir, with all these variables dependent on the isolation of the current frac. If the plug anchor or seal were to fail, all the planning and procedures would be rendered ineffective.

Despite the critical importance of isolation to a frac plug’s performance, many suppliers shrink the seal to its smallest size. While these seals may be effective in laboratory tests or within clean casing or perfectly machined mechanical tubes, they often fail to perform when deployed in the wellbore (refer to the article above).

With the sealing element on the SoluBoss, my DNA reference above has been taken quite literally by using the exact Boss Hog element geometry, proven in over 600,000 runs. Despite using a dissolvable rubber, the element is shaped using the identical molds employed for the Boss Hog frac plug. The element design has proven to operate in thousands of wellbores across all basins. The anchor leverages the same proven hollow buttons from over 100,000 runs, ensuring reliable biting into the casing, irrespective of casing grade and power charge speed. The result is a highly dependable anchor and seal that meets the needs of your wellbore.

Clean Out

While isolation is the primary function of a frac plug, dissolution closely follows. A dissolvable plug commands a price premium for reducing risk during clean-out. The plug must reliably dissolve to provide the value for that premium. All dissolvable plugs use a magnesium material alloyed with other metals to induce corrosion in the presence of chlorides. While making thousands of alloys is possible for any wellbore environment, it isn’t feasible for the supply chain. Therefore, the supplier must select 2-3 blends that consistently cover the environments the plugs meet.

Several factors can affect the corrosion reaction that leads to dissolution, including chloride content, calcium content, well temperature, heat-up time, pump-down fluid and produced fluid composition, and expected days to drill out.

For SoluBoss, extensive research into wellbore environments across all basins has guided the selection of two blends specifically designed to endure the frac process and dissolve as rapidly as possible.

The Entire Package

While many providers focus on a single aspect of the dissolvable plug performance – either cost, size, or dissolution – we’ve worked to deliver the highest value product across the entire plug life. Through the integration of the proven HeliSeal pump-down feature, the Boss Hog element system, and detailed research into optimizing the SoluBoss, we are committed to providing the best dissolvable plug and perf experience.

SoluBoss Dissolvable Frac Plug

Let’s Get to Work.

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