Optimizing the Use of Vacuum Insulated Tubulars (VIT)
Certain oilfields and recovery methods are sensitive to thermal gradients between the formation and injected/produced fluids. Examples include:
- Permafrost zones (i.e. thaw-induced subsidence);
- Cyclic steam simulation and SAGD Operations (i.e. injected steam quality);
- Deepwater completions (i.e. to prevent hydrates); and
- Geothermal applications.
To reduce unwanted heat transfer, operators may install Vacuum Insulated Tubulars (VIT). However, VIT technology poses several challenges that are not present in standard Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG). These include:
- A lack of standardized test methods to verify thermal effectiveness;
- Vacuum longevity (i.e. due to hydrogen permeation or getter performance); and
- The structural performance in the weld and heat-affected zone, resulting from cyclic load and temperature cycles.
By evaluating a VIT joint design prior to installation, both short- and long-term thermal performance can be quantified, and the rate of unexpected failures reduced.
Testing, Qualifying and Developing Recommended Practices for VIT Technology
C-FER has extensive experience testing and qualifying OCTG products, including VIT technology. We work with operators and vendors to develop custom testing systems to simulate operating environments in order to validate performance.
C-FER has partnered with the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) to develop an Industry Recommended Practice (“IRP”) regarding testing and reporting of VIT thermal performance best practices. Please contact us about the current status of the IRP.