Coiled tubing operations (CT) are used to complete or stimulate wells, instead of using conventional well completion methods. The method involves running into a well with a continuous length of coiled tubing that comes in various sizes from 1 ¼” up to 2 ⅞” and then pumping down CT a liquid or N2 gas at high pressure, depending on the type of completion process being performed.
The use of nitrogen in coiled tubing operations is not a new concept and has been used for years to help reduce the risk of fire and explosion. The presence of oxygen can be detrimental to many aspects of oilfield production, including reducing the life expectancy of equipment, increasing corrosion rates, and creating safety hazards. To combat this, nitrogen is often applied as an inert gas during coiled tubing interventions to displace any oxygen present in the system.
The nitrogen channeled through coiled tubing can be generated by dedicated on-site nitrogen generators. Nitrogen has become the preferred application for oil fields across Western Canada for the following reasons.
Onsite nitrogen generation for coiled tubing operations
- Quicker startup time
A quicker startup means less downtime, which can be costly for the oil and gas industry. Onsite nitrogen generation eliminates the need to deliver conventional liquid nitrogen tanks, which can experience delays and transportation issues that lead to lost production. Having an onsite nitrogen generator means you have nitrogen supply when and where you need it.
- Can reach purity levels of up to 99%
Onsite nitrogen generators provide a consistent flow of nitrogen, which produces a purity level of up to 99%. There is no need to pause operations and the consistency creates a safer work environment.
- Cost-effective with very little logistics involved
The traditional way of supplying nitrogen in tanks involved complex logistics, including loading, transportation, delivery, unloading, and application. You can imagine the planning and effort this takes, which becomes even more challenging for temporary remote sites.
Additionally, you’ll need more workers to safely load, transport, and unload nitrogen tanks. You’ll also need to consider nitrogen that is lost during transportation, which can be up to 10% of what the tanks hold – meaning, companies are paying for a product that never makes it to the site.
Having an onsite nitrogen generator requires significantly fewer logistics than the traditional method. This is a cost-saving strategy for companies that require a consistent flow of nitrogen.
- Better for the environment
The oil and gas industry is under constant pressure from environmentalists and the public to adopt methods that are more environmentally friendly. Onsite nitrogen generation is a small, yet effective way to operate with an improved environmental impact.
Onsite nitrogen generators do not require cool down or any additional nitrogen delivery as with conventional liquid nitrogen which takes up a significant amount of energy to complete. No constant deliveries and transportation costs mean fewer emissions and a better carbon footprint.