What Does Inflatable Packer Mean?
An inflatable packer is a reinforced, inflatable element that, when inflated, expands against the casing or wellbore and provides instant zonal isolation. The inflatable packer acts as a barrier while cement is hardening and prevents the influx of gas. It also provides an effective seal, improves wellbore integrity and optimizes well construction costs. Inflatable packers are also used for applications such as:
- Flow control
An inflatable packer is also known as an inflatable casing packer (ICP).
Trenchlesspedia Explains Inflatable Packer
The inflatable packer is a component designed to be run in the casing string or liner. The annular barrier created between casing strings or between the casing and open hole is permanent and impermeable. These packers can easily seal in any well, whether vertical, deviated or irregular. Inflatable packers also help in the isolation of lower zones during multistage cementing, lost circulation, gas or water zones, segregation production zones, and in plugging or abandonment of wells.
There are two types of inflatable packers:
- Sliding-end packers — These allow the element gland to slide on one end. During inflation, the element diameter increases, and the O-ring seal allows one end of the element to slide or move on the pipe base. This is suitable for open borehole or high-pressure applications where the differential pressure between the top and bottom of the packer ranges from 100 to 5,000 psi.
- Fixed-end packers — These have both rubber element ends fixed to the pipe mandrel. The elements could be fully reinforced, partially reinforced or not reinforced. A fully reinforced element prevents extrusion problems into the open borehole fractures or into the annular area between the packer ends and the casing or borehole.