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VAM® EPIC sets the standard for integral premium connections

22/06/2021 - VAM

As American oil and gas companies face increasingly complicated well design and tightening environmental regulations surrounding deepwater wells, operators are looking for high-quality, reliable equipment. To meet this demand, Vallourec has developed VAM® EPIC, a new Enhanced Premium Integral Connection for upset pipes in deepwater wells, available in any casing size. Bertrand Veaux, VAM® EPIC Product Owner, explains the development and benefits of VAM® EPIC, and how it responds to specific client challenges. 

The story of VAM® EPIC begins in 2013, long before Vallourec had a specific product in mind for the North American market. 

“Originally, we wanted to build a reliable connection that could achieve equally high levels of clearance and performance for deepwater wells,”
Bertrand explains. “The challenge is that as a pipe is run down-hole, it passes through different geological layers, and conditions like mud type and density, pressure and temperature change. To successfully reach the bottom of a well, operators need many casing sizes, which often means privileging clearance over performance. Our goal was to develop a solution that could ensure both.”

This existing need for high-quality pipes was then compounded by the Deepwater Horizon spill, which released over 130 million gallons of oil into the sea. In response, the United States government tightened regulations around deepwater oil and gas wells, adding new safety requirements and changing liability laws. Within the span of a few months, ensuring the quality, security and long-term viability of their deepwater projects became a top priority for American operators.

“Suddenly there was a new market in the United States for extremely high-quality, environmentally responsible, reliable pipes that could meet regulatory requirements,” Bertrand says. “And there we were, with the seeds of VAM® EPIC already planted.” 

 

VAM® EPIC sets the standard for integral premium connections

A premium connection for upset casing, VAM® EPIC offers flexibility from the design phase. VAM® EPIC can be manufactured in OD covering the complete casing portfolio, from 75/8" to 18”, a wider range than for most integral upset connections on the market. This complete portfolio is available to enable customers to standardize well design, using a single connection type for a complete string, thereby reducing costs and streamlining operations.

A premium connection for upset casing, VAM® EPIC offers flexibility from the design phase. VAM® EPIC can be manufactured in OD covering the complete casing portfolio, from 75/8" to 18”, a wider range than for most integral upset connections on the market. This complete portfolio is available to enable customers to standardize well design, using a single connection type for a complete string, thereby reducing costs and streamlining operations.

VAM® EPIC offers unparalleled performance to well operators. Whereas most deepwater connections cannot achieve more than a 90% performance rate, VAM® EPIC can reach a 100% structural and sealability performance rate throughout project life. “Our solution doesn’t force operators to choose between performance and clearance,” Bertrand notes. “Thanks to the upset technology used during the design phase, we can adjust wall thickness to favor either performance or clearance, or find a balance between the two.” 

VAM® EPIC sets the standard for integral premium connections

VAM® EPIC is made from the highest quality steel and tested against the most rigorous industry standards, including API RP 5C5:2017 CAL IV. “When customers order specific thicknesses, we help them model and test their new connection to ensure efficient performance,” says Bertrand. “VAM® EPIC is the first semi-flush connection in the industry to reach 100% pipe body efficiency for this OD range, and it offers up to 50% improved clearance compared to Threaded & Coupled (T&C) connections.”

VAM® EPIC is also an easy connection to install, thanks to its smooth OD. “Unlike T&C connections, an integral connection’s smooth external profile prevents it from getting caught during installation,” explains Bertrand. “Customers can avoid extra costs from back-out operations and benefit from a better installation process. Having a smoother OD also streamlines the cementing phase, ensuring more robust well architecture.”

Finally, VAM® EPIC has a two-step thread design which prevents cross-threading and improves stabbing for overall better performance.

VAM® EPIC

Connection
VAM® EPIC is the only integral connection for upset casing designed on demand to address challenges not covered by standard semi-flush or slim T&C connections. Adjust its wall thickness to achieve either higher performance or clearance.
VAM® EPIC sets the standard for integral premium connections

Overcoming extreme environmental conditions

To help operators comply with the United States’ strictest regulations, VAM® EPIC  is designed to prioritize safety and reliability. The solution offers strong gas and water sealability, and increased thickness on the pipe end to provide resistance to casing wear. 

VAM® EPIC was also built to resist compression, ensuring that if the pressure or the temperature inside a well vary or drop significantly, the connection will not be damaged. The upset acts as a buckle arrestor, stopping collapses and providing compaction resistance for the string.

As a final precaution against unexpected or dangerous conditions, the solution was tested using Worst Case Discharge (WCD) scenarios to determine how it would perform in the event of a loss of well control. In simulated situations, VAM® EPIC exceeded expectations for the mitigation of potential well critical incidents and environmental damage.

“Operators need to guarantee that the materials they use in high temperature, pressure and compression situations are extremely robust,” says Bertrand. “VAM® EPIC provides that certainty for complex deepwater wells. We proved this recently through a successful first trial run with a major offshore operator, for which VAM® EPIC presented exceptional make-up graphs despite rough weather conditions.”

Expanding our horizons

While VAM® EPIC was designed with the American market in mind, it has a variety of potential applications. The North Sea, as well as Brazil and the wider South American market, could benefit from this high-quality solution.

VAM® EPIC sets the standard for integral premium connections
Performance

Our goal is to provide our VAM® EPIC solutions for complex offshore projects worldwide. With the market’s largest upset casing OD portfolio, and 100% pipe body performance and clearance, VAM® EPIC  is an exciting step forward for premium integral connection technology.

Bertrand Veaux VAM® EPIC Product Owner