Digitalization and Automation Streamline Simul-Fracs | SLB

Chevron streamlines simul-fracs with 73% reduction in frac-to-wireline transition times

Permian Basin, Texas, New Mexico, United States, North America, Onshore

Connected frac fluid delivery and a new frac tree design expedited simul-frac operations in the Permian Basin across 36 wells and 1,546 stages. Execution consistency and risk profile improved, CO2e emissions decreased, and one less frac crew member was required per shift.

When Chevron started using simul-fracs in the Permian Basin—with one crew simultaneously conducting hydraulic fracturing operations in two wells on the same pad to improve efficiency— maximizing operational integrity and minimizing risk became more challenging. The cost advantages had to be balanced against the greater likelihood of valve operating errors, and there was little room to maneuver. Despite fewer onsite personnel, the operator also wanted to ensure optimal valve maintenance and eliminate greasing operations on the critical path.

By building in digitalization and automation, connected frac fluid delivery optimized execution, safety, and sustainability across the wellsite. Use of the ValveCommander™ platform enabled integration of the new “hot-swap” frac tree design, which significantly improved efficiency. Out of 10 well pads that used the SLB digital solution, five used a hot-swap configuration, enabling the wireline crew to stab in, test, and equalize the lubricator while fracturing of a stage was in progress. As soon as the stage was completed and the upper zipper valve closed, the crown valve was opened, and wireline could run in. Transition times averaged 14.5 min for the conventional tree configuration, with a median value that was just a few seconds less. The corresponding times for the hot-swap design were 3.9 min and 2 min. This new configuration and workflow eliminated the need to operate the upper master valve, enhancing system reliability. Furthermore, bleeding off and pressure testing the frac line between stages was no longer required, which contributed to more efficient well swaps.

Wide frequency distribution of frac-to-wireline transition times with conventional frac tree.
The conventional tree configuration resulted in a wide range of transition times—the interval between closing the upper zipper valve after fracturing a stage and opening the crown valve for wireline entry. Several operations had transition times of 20 min or more.
Graph shows frac-to-wireline transition times with hot-swap frac tree are consistently much shorter.
With the hot-swap configuration, the times were consistently and significantly shorter.

The digital solution played a key role in managing these complex operations by mitigating the risk of actuating the wrong valve on the wrong well. Even more important than speed was the consistency of execution, which enhanced safety, efficiency, and predictability. There were no valve operation errors, and the heightened efficiency reduced pump idle time, eliminating 552 metric tons of CO2e.

The automated valve greasing system, comprising a remote-control skid and human-machine interface (HMI), minimized risk of human error and removed personnel from the red zone; no greasing operations were performed on the critical path. By making it easier to follow an effective valve maintenance schedule, Chevron optimized valve maintenance and grease consumption. Chevron also eliminated thousands of feet of grease hoses, reducing rig-up time and mitigating the impact of environmental factors, such as cold weather, by reducing the distance grease had to be pumped.

Products Used