Enerplus increases daily pumping time 20% in six-pad zipper frac program

Bakken Formation, United States, North America, Onshore

ValveCommander™ automated control and advisory platform replaced time-consuming manual valve operation and its inherent risks with a streamlined digital solution that expedited first oil and eliminated intervention in the red zone.

Enerplus Corporation uses the zipper frac technique for efficiency on its well pads in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. Standard workflows for these operations require wireline and fracturing crews to constantly alternate between wells, isolating a well and rigging up wireline or opening a well to begin pumping fluids downhole.

The frac fluid delivery system—including all the isolation, zipper, and frac tree valves—facilitates frac fluid flow and movement of wireline toolstrings into and out of the wells. However, the valves must be opened and closed accurately and in proper sequence, making valve operations risky and increasing the potential for costly NPT incidents, such as unintentionally cutting wireline, shutting in on a frac stage, or exposing the environment and crew to frac fluids at high rates and pressures.

To mitigate risk, SLB was required to send two technicians per 12-h shift, and the Enerplus completions manager, frac ground supervisor, and wireline engineer all had to engage and agree on the procedures before any valve was operated. This practice diverted time and resources away from pumping and still did not provide true visibility on valve positions. With about 1,700 valve operations on a typical job, the mandated process could generate over 5 miles of foot traffic per day and consume 20–30 hours by the end of the zipper frac job on a single pad. Enerplus decided to use the field-proven ValveCommander automated control and advisory platform to further reduce risk, expedite operations, and minimize presence of personnel in the red zone.

With remote, digital control and real-time valve monitoring, the ValveCommander platform helped Enerplus increase effective pumping time per day by 20% while enhancing operational safety. The number of well swaps with transition times less than 1 minute improved by 60%, and valve operation did not necessitate any personnel in the red zone. There were no instances of cut wireline across the 6-pad (42-well) program, and hydraulic power unit utilization decreased 33%, lowering diesel consumption and CO2 emissions.

“The implementation of ValveCommander platform has enhanced our operational safety by eliminating all contractors around the highest-risk areas on a frac site. We are working safer and improving our efficiencies.”

Brian Engebretson, Team Lead, Completions Operations, Enerplus
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Operator using ValveCommander automated control and advisory platform to remotely monitor and operate valves on frac tree and manifold in the Bakken.
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