Hydraulic Fracturing Equipment to Enable Reliable Performance in the Arctic Regions

April 7, 2008

Substantial hydrocarbon reserves in the Russian Federation are located in the regions with cold climate, and the problem of expensive equipment downtime due to climatic conditions is very urgent both for producing and service companies. In the winter period, amount of hydraulic fracturing operations performed in the Arctic regions considerably decreases. One of the main factors limiting frac fleet operation is complexity of the equipment operation at low temperatures.

Pumping units with diesel engines having power capacity 2,000-2,500 HP are most vulnerable to the cold winter conditions. In spite of availability of the hydraulic starter, preheating system and starting system with ether injection, it becomes virtually impossible to start such an engine in the field at temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius. It is not always expedient to start the engine in a heated module and move the equipment with the working engine to the area of operations for a distance which can exceed 300 kilometers.
The PKB Avtomatika designed and started production of pumping units ANA-105M for hydraulic fracturing, which have no limitations for operation at low temperatures.

Uniqueness of the Russian design is conditioned by use as the plunger pump drive of two transport gas-turbine engines GTD-1250, each of 1,250 HP, and original automatic transmission having no hydraulic torque converter. GTD-1250 engines designed for military transport machines are characterized by twice as high specific power compared to diesel engines; they are started within one minute at the temperature minus 40 degrees Celsius and require no preheating.

Thanks to compactness of gas-turbine engines, it became possible to place the power drive and plunger pump lubricating systems in one compartment protected from weather impact. Use of pollution-free exhaust gases of the gas-turbine engine, containing no smoke black, for heating of oil tanks, units of transmission and plunger pump enables preparation of the pumping unit to realize the total power within 15 minutes at the temperature minus 40 degrees Celsius. We should also mention relatively low weight of the pumping unit with gas-turbine drive – minimum 5 tons lighter compared to the unit of corresponding power with a diesel engine, and also smaller overall dimensions and low center of gravity of the equipment, which significantly reduces load on the carriage frame and results in higher maneuverability and passability.

Pumping units ANA-105M are successfully operated by the Purnefteotdacha service company in the Yamalo-Nenetsky Autonomous District. As the company has pumping units with gas-turbine drive in their frac fleet, they can perform hydraulic fracturing at temperatures down to minus 35 … 40 degrees Celsius, starting and warming up the equipment without any difficulties, which was confirmed during a number of successful frac operations on gas-condensate wells of Gazprom in the area of Novi Urengoi.

Specialists of PKB Avtomatika also complied with the requirements on frost resistance assurance in their work on designing the mixing unit APS-8M (see Fig.). Integrated warming and heating based on use of a powerful autonomous liquid phase heater enables simultaneous warming of the hydraulic system oil, warming and thermal