Alloy Sealing Technology in Downhole Well Applications

The oil and gas industry is continuously challenged to improve its environmental footprint. isol8 is contributing to the net zero solution with its range of Fusion® zero emission bonded alloy barriers that optimise the benefits of alloy sealing technology in downhole well applications.

Founded in 2017, isol8 started out with a clear vision of setting a new global standard in zero emission wellbore isolation products. That vision is now being realised through the company’s cutting-edge range of Fusion® bonded alloy barriers, with isol8 being the only company in the world using subaquatic (or underwater) soldering to create the most technically advanced, metallurgically bonded barriers on the market.

Fusion® alloys are innovative ‘off-eutectic’ downhole products that can maximise value and radically reduce costs for clients at every stage of the well lifecycle, from wellbore construction, to well completion and intervention. Moreover, Fusion® offers a revolutionary technique for abandoning oil and gas wells and sealing them for eternity, giving operators a zero emission, impenetrable alternative to conventional well plug and abandonment methods.

Financial backing has been instrumental in enabling isol8 to broaden its product portfolio and embed its unique barrier solutions into the market. The business has utilised funding secured from government, operator, and private equity sources to expand its facilities and technical capabilities, including large-scale manufacturing, maintenance and testing facilities in the UK and US where it designs, develops, tests, qualifies and deploys its proprietary bonded alloy barrier technology. The company has also grown its team and today has 14 employees with 170 years of collective oilfield experience, more than 60 of which is in downhole product design.


The range of Fusion® products

There are many benefits of using bonded alloys compared to cement or non-bonded alloys as a sealing mechanism for downhole applications. The reason an operator would choose Fusion® alloys over a cement plug or Bismuth based alloys comes down to isol8’s unique metallurgical bond. It is the only company ‘fusing’ alloy to the steel casing or tubing, creating a metallurgical bond with the highest shear-bond strength of any barrier material on the market today, offering more than 20 times the strength of even the best cement, and 10 times the strength of unbonded alloys. In real terms, this means that a 2ft impermeable Fusion® bonded alloy barrier has the same shear-bond strength as 100ft of cement. The best cements offer less than 300psi shear-bond strength, and unbonded alloys will typically deliver 500pst shear-bond strength. isol8’s bonded alloys have been successfully tested up to 6500psi.


There are additional advantages to be gained from using Fusion® technology. It also offers the greatest radial expansion capability of alloy-based barriers, making it a game-changer for single and multi-annulus well abandonment applications. isol8 has invented a wholly unique method to melt alloy in large diameter annuli, with a patent pending on this revolutionary technique. Operators can also achieve the longest life expectancy from Fusion® bonding because it is created for eternity. The metallurgical bond provides absolute integrity assurance and can eliminate fugitive emissions from abandoned wells for eternity.

From an operational standpoint, isol8’s 3 ½” OD Fusion® toolstring is modular in design and can be easily scaled for multiple tubing and casing sizes from 4” up to 7 5/8”. The same toolstring can also form annulus barriers in sizes ranging from 4 ½” x 9 5/8” to 7” x 9 5/8”. Utilising isol8 products means rigless single-trip operation, minimal personnel requirement at site, small deck footprint, and ultimately cost and time savings compared to traditional wellsite operations.

Each product produces an H2S and CO2 corrosion-resistant alloy seal and is suited to well temperatures even over 2000C. The combination of metallurgical bond and the ultra-low corrosion rates means Fusion® technology can be considered an ‘eternal’ barrier, and isol8 has designed the barriers to exceed the requirements of the ISO 14310 V0 qualification standard.


The thermite reaction

To generate radial heat to melt the low-melt temperature sealing alloys, isol8 uses thermite. It has a patented portfolio of solid thermite heaters (that retain their shape) to create high expansion alloy barriers. Once initiated downhole, the exothermic thermite reaction can generate temperatures approaching 3,000oC! isol8’s initiation system incorporates two independent means to prevent the inadvertent initiation of the exothermic reaction at the wellsite, conforming to RP67 guidelines. The toolstring also incorporates two independently powered initiation triggers to avoid any potentially costly misruns, and also incorporates a pressure/temperature module to monitor and record data during the run into the well.

In recent months, the company has taken great strides to further develop and enhance its product portfolio, including successful characterization of three Fusion® alloys covering the entire temperature spectrum of wellbore applications; implementation of major improvements to its downhole alloy deployment tool capabilities to extend the depth it can reach into the annular space; introduction of Casing Annular Packer technology to address sustained casing pressure annular issues and to futureproof plug and abandonment methods during well construction; and diversifying its bonded alloy barriers solutions for additional applications including water shut-off.

Contact isol8 for more information on how Fusion® bonded alloy barriers can add value to your oil and gas operations. Visit the website or follow the company on LinkedIn

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