The primary risks within the R&D department are those which are linked to the handling of heavy parts and the high pressure/high temperature tests.
Saltel Industries has constructed secured and adapted test zones and test cells to mitigate the risks. Furthermore, each employee receives the appropriate training for any dangerous tasks such as lifting or high pressure tests. A supervisor initially accompanies the trainees during several tests, progressively giving him more autonomy.
The “Incidents” module of the collaborative platform acts as a continuous improvement tool for all the safety procedures.
Examples of our general recommendations for the pressure tests include:
All tests to be carried out in accordance with the requirements of a Saltel work permit system
PPE for all personnel entering and working in the barrier area
Tool Box Talk to be held before testing takes place
Clear audio and e-mail announcements to be made prior to testing
Pressure testing should go in steps with intermediate inspections of gauges and potential fluid leakages before reaching final pressure. Pressure testing must be done with liquid before testing with a gas
Pressure area should have barrier shielding to prevent personnel from entering the immediate vicinity. ONLY essential personnel are permitted into the sectioned area, and ONLY when pressure and load has been removed from the system
The pressure vessel will be placed in a secured and closed pit
Tool assembly will be oriented so all ports and plugs are pointed away from personnel, in the event of items being port fittings or plugs coming loose (a plug coming loose will have the effect of a gunshot)
When disassembling, personnel is to be made aware of the potential dangers of trapped pressure within the test setup.
Any threads that are difficult to disassemble should be reviewed for causes of difficulty before continuing.
The elastomers are key components used in most of Saltel Industries products. It is the base material of the inflatable packers and also the means of sealing our Expandable Steel Patches and Packers. R&D knowledge includes
Development, mixing and tests of new compounds (HNBR, FKM, FEPM, FFKM)
Many tests can be performed internally on Saltel Industries proprietary elastomer compounds such as tensile tests, compression set measurement, hardness tests, air/fluid aging, HCl compatibility, swelling pressure tests, and elastomer-to-metal bonding shear tests.
New compound mixing (left) and Swelling elastomer custom-built pressure test equipment (right)
2. Metallic materials
Metallic materials knowledge is crucial to develop reliable and life-of-the-well expandable steel solutions. Metallic materials should be compatible with the well conditions and the expansion process. R&D knowledge includes
Corrosion (NACE, Literature, Tests…)
As an example, elongation and tensile properties of several metallurgies with different manufacturing processes and heat treatments have been tested internally with our tensile testing equipment.
3. FEA (Finite Element Analysis)
Elastomer, steel, fluid and rock models are incorporated within FEA analysis to validate and improve the design at early stages. The FEA is used for
Products general design
Metal / Elastomer / Borehole interfaces
Expandable seals for HP/HT and Cased hole / Openhole
Multiphysics (Thermal effects, Fluidics…)
Stress applied to the formation
4.Downhole tools design
Design rules specific to downhole tools have been acquired through the development of the product range. This knowledge such as design rules, CAD tips, calculation sheets are put in a unique R&D Best Practice document. This document is available to all the R&D engineers on the knowledge management platform.
The objective of Research and Development (R&D) is to provide new and efficient solutions (in terms of cost and results) to the operators.
Being an innovator within the oil and gas industry isn’t easy. The risks are great, well integrity must be ensured and the investment at stake is considerable.
Saltel Industries works in close collaboration with oil companies for the development and qualification of new products. Product champions are the technical interface between the client and the R&D team.
The introduction of a new product to the marketplace must follow a very strict procedure. This procedure helps to guarantee minimum risk and provide an excellent match between the requirements and expected results for the operator in a very difficult environment.
The process of creating a new product must rely on experienced development engineers, who impeccably understand the oil environment.
The rigid methodology which is applied, from the customer needs definition to the product qualification, can all be followed on a TRL scale.
Innovation is part of the company culture. Innovation and creativity of Saltel Industries’ R&D team is unquestionable. The company has applied for 38 family patents since its creation in 2004 and all the product ranges rely on strong and pioneer patents.
Saltel industries’ R&D and Innovation team is composed of 15 people, all either PhDs, engineers, or technicians.
The creativity of the engineers is encouraged by the management. It is considered as the starting point for technological breakthroughs for new products and applications.