Solving the Dissolving Frac Plug Dilemma with Corva’s Completions Platform

Permian Operator Analyzes Plug Performance Data Through Corva's Pressure Rate Comparison App, Uncovering Savings per Well With the Right Tool Selection

Typically made of metal or composite materials, traditional frac plugs are inserted into the wellbore using a coiled tubing unit or wireline. Once in place, the plug can be expanded to seal off the zone and prevent fluids from flowing between zones. However, the explosive growth in hydraulic fracturing design and ever-increasing lateral lengths, has introduced new challenges for the removal of plugs.

The challenges of composite plugs led to the large-scale introduction of dissolvable plugs in 2014. However, with innovation came a high cost. Dissolvable frac plugs can cost several times more than composite frac plugs due to material design and complex manufacturing processes.

Today, many operators are naturally asking themselves a simple question: which is better? There is no doubt that dissolvable plugs have their advantages, however, capital discipline and advancements in long lateral drill-out have resulted in composite plugs remaining a viable option.

Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

One of our Permian customers wanted to find out whether dissolvable or composite plugs were the right tool for the job taking into account cost as well as plug performance, flow rate, and pressure trends. As part of Corva’s real-time Completions platform, the operator utilized the Pressure Rate Comparison app to analyze plug transition time frames (3 stages before and 3 stages after), noting that dissolvable plugs tended to have a higher rate and lower pressure while composite plugs had a lower rate and higher pressure.

Corva’s Completions platform enabled the operator to rapidly analyze plug performance across multiple stages at once, leading the completions team to choose the less expensive composite plug for future frac jobs while avoiding the potential pressure leak identified with dissolvable plugs in the analysis. 

Putting a Value on the Data

Whether it's reducing swap over times for frac or wireline, optimizing chemical set points, or increasing footage per day, Corva is always looking for measurable ways to demonstrate the value of our Completions platform. For our Permian customer interested in studying dissolvable and composite plug performance, the value adds up to nearly $40,000 saved per well.

As with anything in the oilfield, the approach you take and the materials you use depend on the well, the lithology, and the frac design. The dissolvable plug is still an extremely valuable tool in our toolbox; and as Corva continues to show, having access to the right data can make all the difference in the world when it comes to which tool you reach for.


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