RFID tags made with VICTREX® PEEK™ Polymer can withstand the extreme physical and chemical conditions of downhole environments
When Merrick Systems Inc., a leading provider of integrated software solutions for upstream oil and gas operations, wanted a high performance material for the housing of its RFID tags, it chose VICTREX PEEK polymer because of its superior combination of properties including the ability to withstand the extreme temperatures, physical and chemical conditions of downhole environments.
RFID tags provide an asset management/inventory control process to track equipment used during drilling and production of oil and gas wells. The tags are embedded in downhole tubulars such as drill pipe, casing, production tubing and other BHA (Bottom Hole Assembly) components. They provide fast, accurate and consistent collection of information on each component before, during, and after it is run into a well. According to Ian Binmore, Director of Drilling Products at Merrick Systems, "The more knowledge that service companies and drilling crews have about what is going into the hole before it goes into the hole, the less likely there is of a costly delay or a catastrophic situation. The only way to confidently know this information is to be able to track the components and the VICTREX PEEK polymer tags enable that to occur." RFID tags can save time and money by speeding up inefficient operations, making sure that operations can go as planned, enabling engineering optimizations and ensuring that assets are properly deployed and used.
Previous techniques for mounting RFID tags included simply epoxying them to steel. "These techniques typically result in failure," said Binmore adding "they can also present a danger to personnel if pressure gets trapped behind the tag while pulling equipment out of a well." He continued, "We needed a housing that could be mechanically shaped to prevent pressure buildup while withstanding the downhole conditions and providing a mechanical mounting. We found that VICTREX PEEK polymer was the best material available for the housing as it could meet all of our design requirements."
Merrick's material requirements included the ability to withstand the high pressures and temperatures of the downhole environment, strength, corrosive resistance, acceptability in the industry, moldability, expansion coefficients, brittleness, abrasive resistance, epoxy bondability, dielectric properties, and long term stability, including resistance to deterioration under UV exposure. VICTREX PEEK polymer met all these requirements. "In addition," said Binmore, "It met our requirements for a material that could be manufactured in bulk to provide quantities of product at a price point that would promote wide adoption of the technology."
RFID tags have been in existence for quite some time in the drilling industry, but have had a less than stellar performance history. In the past, the problem has been the reliability of the tags to sustain the high temperatures, high pressures and well-documented severe conditions incurred during a drilling operation. "We are not the only company offering RFID tags," said Binmore. "However, we have demonstrated that tag reliability is no longer an issue through the use of a well thought out strategy that includes tag design, the use VICTREX PEEK polymer, special epoxies and tag installation methods that will endure during sustained drilling operations. This has created a tag that can survive the extreme physical and chemical environments that the tags routinely encounter in a downhole environment. "Victrex has been integral in the development of a product that works," added Binmore. "Together, Merrick Systems and Victrex have turned it into a valued working product, at a price point that the industry can rapidly accept."
SOURCE: Victrex plc