Horizontal drilling and fracking are key technologies that are solidifying the United States as one of the top three oil producers, particularly in affordable land shale plays. These drilling and fracking techniques require rugged equipment designed for the aggressive conditions of downhole service. However, in order for that equipment to function properly, it needs equally rugged downhole connectors.
The Challenges of Downhole Applications
In the oil and petroleum industry, downhole applications (i.e., applications within the well, rather than at the surface) can prove especially challenging for engineers, starting with high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) conditions commonly experienced. Pressures can easily reach 20 Ksi and temperatures up to 400°F in deep well environments. Downhole equipment employs a variety of sensors, switches, battery packs, and data loggers. Common tools include MWD (downhole measurement while drilling), LWD (logging while driving) and wireline.
Downhole applications also present challenges related to inventory and lead time. Since the collapse of the oil and gas industry in 2014, service tool companies are limiting inventory costs and focusing on just-in-time (JIT) delivery to reduce budgets and component inventory. As a result, design and procurement teams are looking to minimize inventory and reduce lead times as much as possible. This makes the search for downhole connector solutions even more complex, but not impossible.
Design Constraints for Downhole Electrical Connectors
In addition to being able to withstand in a HPHT environment, these devices and their electrical connectors must have excellent insulation resistance, dielectric-withstanding voltage, current-carrying capacity, and temperature resistance.
Downhole connector finishes must be able to resist extreme environments and, in some situations, be non-magnetic. Operating temperatures between 330°F and 400°F are the most common, and connectors must reliably perform within this range.
Downhole Electrical Connector Solutions
In order for the United States to remain one of the top three oil producers, the petroleum industry needs rugged, durable downhole equipment. A key requirement for equipment and instruments intended for downhole service is readily obtainable connectors that are also affordable and reliable: connector solutions must not only fit the design specifications but fit within the project budget and timeline. Fortunately, there are downhole connector solutions on the market capable of doing just that, such as the ITT Cannon High Temp Micro-D connector series.
ITT Cannon Micro-D Connectors
The ITT Cannon High Temp Micro-D connector series is designed for the rugged conditions faced in downhole applications. These rectangular connectors can withstand high temperatures and include a twist pin technology that resists thermal set, as well as the vibration that often accompanies downhole service.
When used for downhole applications, through-hole and float mount hardware systems are typically employed because users prefer the use of non-magnetic socket head cap screws to attach to their tools. Furthermore, Yellow Chromate and Electroless Nickel are acceptable finishes to withstand the temperatures to which they will be exposed. However, a Black Alloy finish is often needed for downhole guidance systems where there is a non-magnetic requirement.
PEI-Genesis Knows Downhole Electrical Connectors
There is far more to a downhole connector solution than a product that meets certain technical specifications – there are also issues with lead time and delivery that must factor into the selection. It is key to find a partner that mitigates the risk of 3 to 4 month lead times that ultimately impact your project timeline and budget. To meet these challenges, PEI-Genesis has invested in a value-added work center to quickly build Micro-D connectors to meet customer design requirements. Micro-D connectors with flying leads can typically be built in 4-6 weeks, and double ended splice free harness assemblies in 6-8 weeks.
Whether it’s PEI-Genesis’s value-added services that gains you access to Micro-D connector solutions in weeks as opposed to months, or just-in-time (JIT) delivery and bonded inventory programs, partnering with PEI enables you to meet the critical challenges of downhole applications when it matters most!