Author: Jeffrey D. Sokol
As a young fishing tool operator, one of my first longer term projects was to remove a field full of old Baker Model R packers in wells that were to be recompleted just outside the High Desert dusty town of Farmington, New Mexico.
Typically a Model R packer can be released with a straight pull, letting the slips and elements on the packer relax, then it can be easily pulled from the hole. On these wells however, the packers had about 90’ of tailpipe, which was generally sanded up anywhere from 30’ to 60’ below the packer. This means that even though the packer might release on a straight pull, the entire assembly is still stuck, calling for some out of the box thinking. The author would like to pre-empt this by fully acknowledging that this is one field, one scenario, one experience, and this was our procedure for removing these packers. By no means is this meant to be the definitive SOP for every Model R fishing situation. That being said, with over 150 years fishing experience on our team, this is what we decided was the best for our customer at the time, given this particular fishing situation.
Our retrieval method straightforward. First we would attempt a straight pull to release the packer mandrel. That usually failed because the tailpipe was sanded up inside of 4 ½ casing. We would then cut the tubing above the packer, latch on with an overshot and jarring BHA, and jar the mandrel apart from the packer. This would at least relax the slips and elements on the packer. We would then go back in with a fishing spear, latch into the ID of the packer, and jar the packer loose from the bottom nut that was attached to the tailpipe. This would leave the bottom nut attached to the tailpipe, which again, was sanded up. We would go back into the hole after retrieving the packer with a concave mill, mill off that bottom packer nub that was attached to the tailpipe, and dress off about 2 feet of tail pipe giving us a clean fishtop to latch onto with our overshot. We would then proceed to wash over the tailpipe, then go back in with an overshot and jarring BHA and retrieve the tailpipe. This project usually takes about 3 days on a 5000’ well with a decent rig crew.
This was S.O.P. for retrieving these packers in these sanded up wells.
In our industry, time is money. At Dynasty Energy Services with over 150 years of experience at the beckon call of our customers, we are very good at getting things done in a cost efficient manner. We specialize in the removal of unwanted objects from the wellbore in the quickest, safest, and most efficient manner possible. In other words, we don’t cut corners if we know it won’t save time. However, we do concede to the full realization that we can only suggest and advise as to the most appropriate action to cleaning the well out to the best of our ability.
Packers can be retrieved by milling over with a shoe, but due to the sanded up tailpipe, even after we burned over it, it would still have taken multiple runs to fish the remaining mandrel and tailpipe, so you aren’t saving any time or money.
The Model R packer has rings and parts in it that will spin like a top, seemingly forever. Not to mention slip dies, pins, and a hundred other parts that are better off being pulled out in one or two pieces, especially with tailpipe sanded up beneath it.
In one instance a consultant decided to use a junk mill and mill up the whole packer. This option failed as they needed to make magnet runs, multiple mills, shoes, washpipe, all as necessary to get the job done. Circulating with water, it was difficult to remove some of the larger debris, and a lot of junk ended up falling in the annulus and hanging up on tubing collars below, preventing easily washing over the sanded up tailpipe. Even while running multiple sweeps during milling, pieces of junk just kept appearing and making life difficult on the job site when using a junk mill as opposed to our way of removing the sanded up packer.
There are right ways and wrong ways to do everything. In fishing, there seem to be a lot of wrong ways, and very few right ways for a given situation. At Dynasty Energy Services, we choose the best and most efficient option for the customer’s dollar.
Further Notes: the producer opted not to risk cutting below the packer as a chemical cut would cost more than the time saved by these short trips, and freepoint could not be found.