Meet PurpleReign™: Why We Changed Our Minds About Dissolvable Plugs

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May 20, 2024
Austin, Texas

Dissolvable plugs are a bad way to isolate stages during a frac. At least, that’s what we thought for a number of years.

That’s because typical dissolvable plugs use a “metal-to-metal” seal or simple O-ring systems as a means to provide hydraulic isolation. This pretty much guarantees poor isolation. There’s been a lot of research published and operational evidence to suggest that when dissolvable plugs do not properly isolate, perforation erosion declines and in some cases does not exist (proxy for under stimulated interval). In extreme cases, plug leakage can compromise the wellbore and even lead to full casing breaches.

Designing a plug that deliberately falls apart seemed like a bad product line to be in. To effectively frac a well, you need excellent zonal isolation so high-pressure water and sand are compartmentalized where they need to be. That means you need a plug. A plug that actually plugs. A plug like the PurpleSeal™ composite frac plug.

In 90% of situations, composite plugs and dissolvable plugs are interchangeable. We thought, why not just focus on the PurpleSeal™? It’s more affordable, and we don’t have to worry about the problems that come with dissolvable plugs.

With that in mind, we decided that Repeat Precision wouldn’t be in the business of producing dissolvable plugs. And we stood by that decision for a long time.

So why did we change our minds?

Market dynamics aren’t what they used to be. The price of materials has changed. Our thinking as a company has evolved. We learned that even though dissolvable plugs are designed to weaken and degrade, that doesn’t mean they can’t hold a seal. It just means the market hasn’t developed a plug that can do both.

With a long track record of delivering composite plugs that provide superior wellbore isolation, we decided it was time the market got what it deserved - a dissolvable plug that looks and performs like a composite. That’s how the PurpleReign™ dissolvable plug was born.

Here’s what the PurpleReign™ dissolvable plug includes:

  1. Conventional lower slip chassis. PurpleReign™ is designed differently compared to other dissolvable plugs. We know this approach works with composites and is a strong way to anchor in the casing. Sure, it’s a more expensive approach to that challenge. But we’re looking for reliability and a plug that holds, even as it falls apart.
  2. Substantially sized rubber element. The rubber element provides substantial hydraulic sealing with over 1” of rubber engagement with the casing. No need to worry about plug slippage here—we put the rubber to the road to ensure isolation.
  3. Anti-extrusion limiter package. We know that rubber becomes softer and gives way when it’s subjected to heat and pressure. Including it in our design is a calculated risk, and we address that risk with the anti-extrusion limiter package. This keeps the rubber element in place during high-pressure, high-temperature operations.
  4. Top anchoring system. Most dissolvable frac plugs don’t have this feature, just a lower slip to provide its primary anchoring capability. In our opinion, this isn’t good enough. Every plug needs two points of contact with the casing to not only guarantee setting reliability, but also support the rubber element’s primary function. With PurpleReign™’s top anchoring system, you get a second point of contact with the casing and the peace of mind you need.

All of these parts work together to create an effective disposable plug. While it’s still designed to degrade, just like any other dissolvable plug, PurpleReign™ still holds its seal. And to us, that’s what every frac plug should do—dissolvable or not.

If you’re in the market for any old dissolvable plug that’s cheap and will fall apart downhole, PurpleReign™ probably isn’t right for you. But that’s not what you’re after, is it? No, you need a dissolvable plug engineered with premium features that address specific operational challenges and ensure the best frac possible, no matter what.

Learn more about the PurpleReign™ dissolvable frac plug, or contact us today to add it to your completion.

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