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EP 2000-9073 A-10-1 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Shell Casing and Tubing Design Guide

Appendix 10

Fundamentals of Connections

A-10-1. Introduction.........................................................................................................2

A-10-2. Thread Compounds.............................................................................................2

A-10-3. Connection Failure..............................................................................................2

A-10-4. Swaged Connections...........................................................................................3

A-10-5. Connection Types ...............................................................................................3


A-10-5.1 Integral Connections ......................................................................................5
A-10-5.2 Threaded and Coupled Connections ..............................................................6
A-10-5.3 Informal Comparison of Integral and Coupled Connections .........................7

A-10-6. Thread Forms ......................................................................................................8

A-10-7. Connection Sealing ...........................................................................................11


A-10-7.1 Thread Compound Seal ................................................................................11
A-10-7.2 Metal-to-Metal Seal......................................................................................13
A-10-7.3 Resilient Seal................................................................................................13

A-10-8. Types of Thread Compounds............................................................................15

A-10-9. Surface Treatments ...........................................................................................16


A-10-9.1 Effect on Galling Resistance ........................................................................17
A-10-9.2 Effect on Sealing Capability.........................................................................18
A-10-9.3 Effect on Corrosion Resistance ....................................................................18

A-10-10. Thread Protectors ............................................................................................18


A-10-10.1 Thread Protector Performance Criteria ......................................................19

A-10-11. References.......................................................................................................20
EP 2000-9073 A-10-2 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

A-10-1. Introduction
Chapter 4 of the main body of the Design Guide explains the need to use only qualified
connections in casing and tubing strings and the concept of what connection qualification entails
and provides access to the web site listing qualified connections. This appendix explains some of
the fundamentals of connections.

A-10-2. Thread Compounds


Connection performance usually is very closely linked with the thread compound used to make up
the connection. Certainly this applies for connections which rely on thread compounds for
sealing. However, this also applies to connections which use metal-to-metal seals or resilient ring
seals to achieve sealing. The thread compound is important for two reasons: (1) its lubricating
impact on correlating the makeup torque with the makeup position of the connection; (2) its
lubricating effect in eliminating galling and the buildup of pressure from thread compound
trapped between the pin and the coupling threads during makeup. Many connections develop
trapped thread compound pressure during makeup. Sometimes this pressure dissipates over time,
and sometimes this pressure remains throughout the life of the connection. In both cases, the
presence of this pressure is part of the connection design and part of what makes the connection
demonstrate particular performance during the qualification tests.

Once a premium connection has been tested and qualified using a thread compound, the thread
compound used in well service should be the same as the compound that was used to qualify the
connection. The compound should not be changed for well service until supplemental
qualification tests have been done which demonstrate that galling does not occur at
makeup/breakout and that the connection continues to meet its rated sealing performance using
the new compound. The listing of qualified connections (see Chapter 4) includes the compounds
used to qualify the connections.

The use of too much compound on a premium connection in order to increase the lubrication can
adversely affect sealing due to the buildup of trapped compound pressure.1 Care should be taken
to determine whether a premium connection is sensitive to the amount of thread compound used,
and the manufacturer usually will be able to provide this information. As part of the qualification
program of the connection, the manufacturer should provide the type and allowable amount of
compound to be applied. For compound-sensitive connections, care should be taken to apply the
recommended amount of compound at makeup.

A-10-3. Connection Failure


Structural failure of connections may manifest itself as galling at makeup, as gross deformation of
the thread or sealing area during makeup, or by failure while under load. Failure under load may
be manifest as fracture of the pipe body under a thread, fracture of the coupling, or jump-out
disengagement of the pin threads out of the box threads. If the connection has been qualified, it
should not gall or suffer severe deformation during makeup. Likewise, if the connection is
subjected to pressures, loads, and temperatures inside its qualified envelope, the connection will
not fail. Connection manufacturers sometimes advertise their products by selling a particular
mode of failure, for example, claiming that the connection threads prevent jump-out. However,
the mode of failure is irrelevant as long as the connection has a clearly recognized envelope of
pressure–load–temperature inside of which it has been qualified not to fail.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-3 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

A-10-4. Swaged Connections


Sometimes the pin end of a connection is swaged inward to a slightly smaller diameter, which will
then reduce the drift diameter of the string. More often the swaging is done as part of the
manufacturing process: the nose of the pin is coldworked inward to provide excess material
which then is removed during the machining process. It is not possible to look at a connection pin
ID and tell whether the connection was or was not swaged during the manufacturing process; this
needs to be known based on the product specification. Swaging is important because it is
coldworking the pipe alloy. When swaging is done, it is necessary for the engineer to review the
pipe service requirements and to decide whether or not the amount of swaging (the amount of
coldwork) is allowable in regard to any supplemental hardness requirements which may have
been placed on the alloy for well service.

A-10-5. Connection Types


For many years API thread connections, with or without a resilient seal ring, have been the
standard in well casing strings. These connections are (see Figure A-10-1) the following:
– the API round thread connection;
– the API buttress thread connection;
– the API extreme-line connection.
The API connections use trapped thread compound to achieve sealing. These connections are on
the “qualified” list for sealing pressures up to 4,000 psi. When Exxon Torque Position2 (ETP) is
used for the machining and makeup of the API threads, the qualified pressures correspond to the
pressures listed in the ETP Manual.2
EP 2000-9073 A-10-4 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Fig. A-10-1 – API threads.

During the last three decades, as well pressures and depths increased, there was a shift away from
thread compound sealing connections toward connections capable of sealing higher pressures. At
first, this led to connections with API thread forms but using resilient seal rings (usually Teflon)
to provide the sealing. To seal still higher pressures, “premium” connections were developed and
used throughout the industry. The premium connections were based on sealing high pressure
through the mating contact between tapered, radial pin and box surfaces achieving high contact
stress (interference). All connections that have one or more special features, such as higher
strength, better sealing properties, faster makeup, smaller outer diameter of the coupling,
internally streamlined and recess free, etc. as compared with API connections, are collectively
called premium connections.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-5 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Premium connections have been shown to be reliable at high pressures and loads, but
only after going through qualification test programs which forced manufacturers to tighten up on
the design tolerances. More recently, as well service loads have increased into larger compressive
loads and higher external pressures, testing throughout the industry has demonstrated that even
premium connections can have limits for sealing external pressure or for sealing internal pressure
while under large axial compression. More than ever, this has increased emphasis on the need to
use a connection only within a service envelope to which it has been qualified.

Threaded casing connections can be divided in two groups, integral connections and threaded and
coupled connections. Each group can further be divided into several types, depending on the
sealing mechanism and the existence of a torque shoulder as summarized below.

INTEGRAL TREADED AND COUPLED


CONNECTION CONNECTION

Without torque shoulder


Thread seal only

Without torque shoulder


Thread seal and resilient seal

With torque shoulder


Metal to metal seal

With torque shoulder


Thread seal and resilient seal

With torque shoulder


Metal to metal seal and resilient seal

A-10-5.1 Integral Connections


The principle of the integral connection is shown in Figure A-10-2. The geometries of the pipe
ends are different so that they can be connected without using an intermediate part. Two types of
integral connections are common:
– Upset-type connection: this type of connection has pipe ends with an increased wall
thickness. The pipe may be externally upset, internally upset, or both.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-6 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Fig. A-10-2 – Integral connection with internally and externally upset pipe ends.

– Non-upset- or flush-type connection (Figure A-10-3): this type of connection has pipe ends
with the same OD and ID as the pipe. It has a reduced strength efficiency, compared to upset
type of connections, in all cases.

Fig. A-10-3 – Flush integral connection with swaged pin.

A-10-5.2 Threaded and Coupled Connections


The principle of the threaded and coupled connection is shown in Figure A-10-4. The casing joint
is externally threaded on both ends of the pipe. The single joints are joined by an internally
threaded coupling, to form the connection.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-7 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Fig. A-10-4 – Threaded and coupled connection.

The coupling can be made with several varying outer diameters, and some operating companies
have chosen to use coupling dimensions customized to their operations. The standard dimensions
of API couplings can be found in API Spec 5CT3 and ISO 11960.4 Couplings also are available
with “special clearances” which have a smaller OD than the usual coupling. Usually, the
connection with a special clearance coupling will have a qualified performance envelope which is
less than the envelope of the standard clearance connection. If a connection is used with a special
clearance coupling, the engineer should not assume that the connection will perform up to the
same level as the connection with a standard clearance coupling. Based on expert judgement, the
connection with special clearance coupling should be subjected to a complete or reduced
qualification test program.

In order to incorporate a resilient seal and maintain the required sealing and tensile performance,
the manufacturer sometimes finds it necessary to increase the OD of the coupling to “oversized”
dimensions. Doing this is effective, but it creates a new connection which again must be qualified
or must be found on the already-qualified list.

A-10-5.3 Informal Comparison of Integral and Coupled Connections


In recent years, there has been a move away from the use of integral connections and toward the
use of coupled connections. In part this is due to manufacturers designing coupled connections to
provide the highest levels of sealing performance. This is linked with the development and use of
coupled connections for high-pressure, CRA tubing and casing, because CRA alloys generally
cannot be coldworked to meet the geometry requirements of integral connections and still meet
the mechanical specifications of the alloy. Listed below are the characteristics of the integral and
coupled connections:

INTEGRAL CONNECTIONS:
• Integral connections halve the number of threaded connections and thus the number of
potential leakage paths.
• There is no possibility of receiving a coupling made of a different, and thus wrong, material.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-8 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

• In general, integral connections have higher torque capacity than does the threaded and
coupled connection. This is because integral connections are generally designed with an
external torque shoulder, while for most threaded and coupled connections, the torque
shoulder is located at the pin nose.
• There is a risk of “ringworm” corrosion. This corrosion can occur at the upset region of joints
in the presence of CO2. During the upsetting process, the pipe ends are heated and heavily
deformed, which results in a difference in steel microstructure compared to the pipe. It has
been found that this microstructure is highly sensitive to CO2 corrosion so that pits can form
quite rapidly. The observed corrosion has a characteristic morphology called ringworm
attack.5 To avoid this problem, it is necessary to use tubulars which have been fully heat-
treated after upsetting.

THREADED AND COUPLED CONNECTIONS:


• Threaded and coupled connections are generally less expensive to manufacture, and the pipe
ends can be re-cut should the threads be damaged.
• Generally no upsetting is required, and this lends itself to use with CRA’s, which cannot
easily be upset.
• The manufacturing process lends itself more readily to tight quality assurance, and there is
less risk of geometric errors in the machined parts. Generally, the geometric error in
machined couplings is smaller than the error in machined pipe ends. Pins and boxes
machined on long tubulars may show geometry errors in the shape of a clover leaf.6 This is
usually caused by movements of the long unsupported section of the casing joint.
• Swaging, with or without stress relief as deemed appropriate, still may be needed for some
thin-wall cases to ensure pin nose thickness.

A-10-6. Thread Forms


The following thread forms are commonly manufactured today:
• API round-type thread, a tapered thread with stabbing and loading flanks of 30° and
rounded crests and roots.
• API buttress-type thread, a tapered thread with stabbing and loading flanks of 10° and 3°,
respectively, and flat crests and roots, parallel to the thread cone. On 16 in. and larger pipe
sizes, the crests and roots are parallel to the pipe axis. There is a natural gap (leak path) at the
stab flanks of API buttress threads.
• API extreme-line thread, a tapered thread with stabbing and loading flanks of 6° and flat
crests and roots parallel to the pipe axis.
• Modified buttress threads, used for sealing higher pressures but not up to the pressures of
the premium connections with metal seals. Several thread forms have been developed which
are provided with one or more of the following modifications:
– the thread profile has thread crests and roots parallel to the pipe axis rather than being
parallel to the thread cone;
– a clearance at the pin thread crest (Figure A-10-5), in order to ensure better control of the
thread friction during makeup and to vent trapped thread compound pressure;
– a change in the angle of the stabbing flank, ranging from +10° to +45° (see Figure A-10-5)
in order to improve the connection stabbing performance;
EP 2000-9073 A-10-9 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

– a change in the angle of the loading flank, ranging from +3° to –15° (see Figure A-10-5),
claimed to increase the tensile capacity of the connection;
– a change in the pitch of the threads as one moves along the thread form (single or double
pitch change) (see Figure A-10-6) in order to redistribute the stresses in the connection
threads more uniformly under tensile or compressive loads.
• Two-step thread, with two sections of different diameter, each provided with free-running,
non-interfering threads that are either straight or tapered (Figure A-10-7). The figure shows a
design with three shoulders, claiming an advantage of increased over-torque capacity. In
contrast, a non-interfering thread has the risk of inadvertently backing out of the connection.
• Wedge-shape thread, based on an interlocking dovetail thread profile. The loading flank is
machined with a greater pitch than the stabbing flank (Figure A-10-7) to produce a thread that
wedges together during makeup, eliminating the need for an additional torque shoulder. The
applicable makeup torques of these connections tend to be higher than that of connections
with modified buttress thread profiles and a shoulder.

Fig. A-10-5 – Modified buttress-thread forms.


EP 2000-9073 A-10-10 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Fig. A-10-6 – Connection with single or double pitch change.

Fig. A-10-7 – Two-step and wedge threads.


EP 2000-9073 A-10-11 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

A-10-7. Connection Sealing


Threaded casing and tubing connections utilize three basic mechanisms to establish a leak-tight
joint:
– thread compound seal;
– metal-to-metal seal;
– resilient ring seal.

A-10-7.1 Thread Compound Seal


Connections that utilize thread compound for sealing, such as the API round and API buttress
threads, are not inherently leak tight, but have helical leak paths included in the design. Leak
tightness of these connections is obtained by establishing a high contact pressure on the thread
flanks and sealing the remaining leak path(s) with a thread compound.7
• API round thread: Both thread flanks act as sealing surfaces. They are loaded by the
makeup torque to such an extent that the contact pressure is greater than the fluid pressure to
be retained. The two small leak paths of the API round thread are at the crest and the root of
the thread. These paths are very long, approximately π times the thread diameter times the
number of threads engaged. The smaller the tolerance, the smaller the cross section of the
leak path (Figure A-10-8). Sometimes a soft metal thread surface finish such as tin can help
to reduce the size of the leak path. Under high axial and bending loads, the sealing
capabilities of the API round thread are strongly reduced because the pin-box thread
engagement will deform, causing the leak paths to increase in size.
• API buttress thread: In made-up condition, contacts between the loading flanks and,
typically, the crest and root of the threads form a seal. The leak path in the buttress-thread
form is along the stab flank and the crest and root radii and is bigger than that for the API
round thread (Figure A-10-8). More than the API round thread, this type of thread relies on
the compound to seal the leak paths. In addition, tin plating often is applied to the coupling
threads to improve sealing of the leak path. Under certain conditions such as compressive
loading, the thread contact can change from the load flank to the stab flank, and this shift can
result in leakage of the connection.8,9

It should be noted that no amount of torque applied to the connection can completely close the
leak paths in round or buttress threads. Added torque sometimes stops leaks in connections with
round thread, but does not close the leak path. However, once the elastic limit of the material is
reached, the additional torque cannot help and acts only to damage the connection. Connection
studies have led to the conclusion that the amount of pressure a thread-sealing connection can
hold depends on the gap width between the threads. The smaller the size of this gap, the higher
the pressure it can hold.10 Therefore, small thread tolerances should be requested, so as to
increase connection sealing performance. In wells with high temperatures and large alternating
tensile and compressive loads, the operating cycles can open and close the leak path, and in such
service these types of connections may provide less than expected sealing even at low pressures.
It has not yet been shown that it is possible to design a thread profile that is capable of providing a
reliable gas-tight seal on its own, although some manufacturers have made this claim.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-12 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Fig. A-10-8 – Leak paths in API threads.


EP 2000-9073 A-10-13 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

A-10-7.2 Metal-to-Metal Seal


Connections provided with metal-to-metal seals are commonly referred to as premium
connections.11 Sealing relies on metal-to-metal contact between the two mating sealing surfaces
from both pin and box. Therefore, the thread itself does not have a primary sealing function but
serves to make up the connection and transmit externally applied loads. Although many premium
connections are based on a similar design principle, the details of the design in many cases result
in very different characteristics.11,12 Often the difference in geometry is a result of the
compromise necessary to ensure good sealing integrity and acceptable running characteristics in
the field and the manufacturer’s need to obtain a patent position on the connection. For example,
radial seals (Figure A-10-9) may be more prone to damage due to galling as a result of the long
sliding contact of the seal surfaces during makeup or break-out. Increasing the seal interference,
in an attempt to improve the sealing performance, will tend to increase the galling tendency. At
the other hand, high-angle tapered seals (Figure A-10-10) tend to be less prone to galling although
there may be a greater risk of losing sealing integrity under high tensile loads or following
compression–tension cycles, which may cause the tapered faces to separate.

A-10-7.3 Resilient Seal


The API round- and API buttress-thread connections as well as the premium connections can all
be applied with an additional resilient seal ring made from polymeric material. Their sealing
function is either primary or secondary. In almost all cases, the polymeric seal ring is
incorporated in the threaded part of the box (Figure A-10-11).

Fig. A-10-9 – Premium connection with radial (flank) metal-to-metal seal.


EP 2000-9073 A-10-14 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Fig. A-10-10 – Premium connection with conical metal-to-metal seal.

Fig. A-10-11 – Round-thread connection with resilient seal ring.


EP 2000-9073 A-10-15 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Polymeric seal materials can be divided into two groups13,14:


– elastomeric materials;
– plastomeric materials.
These groups react differently to downhole conditions. The properties of these materials will tend
to change with the time of exposure to these conditions, although at a decreasing rate. Both
groups of materials will tend to absorb hydrocarbons over long periods of time, thus affecting the
properties. However, this occurs to a lesser extent in the plastomeric materials.

The polymers which are used most as sealing material within connections are the plastomeric
materials,14 for instance, virgin Teflon or reinforced Teflon. It is recommended not to use the
same seal ring twice. The seal ring groove needs to be cleaned and free of lubricants prior to
installing the ring. In general, the ring should be installed only by running crew experienced with
the installation of seal rings.

Various OpCo’s have different views on the use of connections with seal rings or connections
with both metal seals and resilient ring seals. The choice of whether or not to use a seal ring or a
combination of both a seal ring and a metal seal depends on the OpCo’s experience in qualifying,
running, and operating connections in wells and on the amount of effort the OpCo is willing to
expend to qualify the connection.

A-10-8. Types of Thread Compounds


Thread compounds are used for three distinct purposes:
• to prevent corrosion of the connection parts during storage
• to facilitate running the connections during makeup and break-out
• to seal the helical paths in the thread compound sealing connections
Storage compounds were developed to serve the first purpose. These compounds can be used
only to protect against corrosion during the storage of the tubular and must never be used as a
running compound. Running compounds were developed to serve the second and third purposes.
Running compounds have to fulfil the following functions:
• During makeup: prevent metal-to-metal contact and thus protect the threads and seal areas
from galling and wear.
• In made-up condition: seal the helical paths between mating threads to make the non-
premium connection leak tight.
• During break-out: ensure that the connection can be broken out after having served for a long
period, and without galling, and at torques which do not differ excessively with the applied
makeup torque.
There has always been a definite distinction between the two sorts of compounds. However,
some manufacturers claim to have developed running compounds which offer corrosion
inhibition, equivalent to that of a good storage compound. These compounds are called hybrid or
multipurpose compounds.
Conventional thread compounds contain relatively weak, ductile, solid particles, suspended in
heavy grease.10 The functions of the grease are the following:
• To act as a carrier to hold the solid particles in a stable dispersion and permit even distribution
over the surface of the connection;
EP 2000-9073 A-10-16 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

• To act as an adhesive to ensure that the coating sticks to the metal surface under condition of
application;
• To provide sufficient lubricity to overcome the initial friction between the connection thread
and the seal surfaces during makeup.

The solid particles have two functions:


• To provide reserves in lubrication in extreme operating conditions, where the boundary lubrication
regime prevails and the grease component has leached out. If, after some time, the connection will
have to be broken out, the solids will act as lubricants. They will then prevent excessive torque
required for breaking out, by deforming when the thread surfaces move over them.
• To seal the helical leak paths of API-type connections. These paths should be sealed by the
compound.8,15 While being made up, the grease will tend to get forced into the leak paths of
the particular thread. It has been suggested that over time the grease base will tend to
disappear by leaching and evaporation of the volatile parts or fluidization due to exposure to
elevated temperatures.8,16 The solids will be left as sealers. The amount of pressure which
can be withstood by the solids seems to depend on their particle size10 and the amount of
solids suspended in the grease.17,18 Sealers used are for instance lead powder, copper flake,
zinc dust, or chunks of Teflon. The latter is to be used only in combination with API buttress-
and round-thread connections, for which it is reported that the “chunky” material performs
better than the “flaky” material.10

Each thread compound will have a characteristic friction correction factor, which depends on the
compound composition. Grease, oil, high-pressure additives, Teflon, copper flakes, graphite, and
certain sulfur compounds decrease the friction coefficient.16,18 Metal oxides and silicates increase
the friction coefficient. The friction correction factor also depends on the hardness, the size and
shape, and the number of particles suspended in the grease base.

A-10-9. Surface Treatments


In order to ensure the functional efficiency of a connection even after multiple makeup operations,
surface treatments are applied to the box, to the pin, or to both. In the case of proprietary
connections, the manufacturer develops the surface treatment as part of the product design, and
the specific surface treatment is part of the qualification of the connection. The surface treatments
are applied to improve resistance to galling and sometimes to improve the sealing capability and
resistance to corrosion.

The following surface treatments are typically used19:


Phosphating is the process by which the steel is dipped into a boiling, almost saturated, acidic
solution of metal phosphate, for instance, zinc phosphate or manganese phosphate. Reaction of
the steel with the solution causes metal phosphate to precipitate and adhere on to the steel surface.

Lacquer coating – Anti-friction lacquer, for instance a molybdenum disulfide, is sprayed evenly
on pin and box surfaces, which have been heated to harden the lacquer in a short time. In order to
provide a good base for adhesion of the lacquer, the sliding surfaces are roughened by means of
grit blasting.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-17 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Oxalating is the process in which a thin layer of oxalate is applied to steels with a high chrome or
nickel content, by dipping the steel into a hot oxalic acid solution. The process is more or less
similar to phosphating.

Electrochemical treatment – plating can be done with a wide variety of materials such as gold,
silver and its alloys, cobalt, nickel, chromium, copper, zinc, cadmium, and tin. The materials
deposited by the plating tend to be more finely grained and are usually harder and more brittle
than wrought materials.

Ion deposition – For high-alloy materials and nickel-based alloys, the application of a metallic
surface coating via the ion implantation process is used. Normally, in such a case, the pin is left
untreated. During the ion implantation process, a microscopically thin film of ions from
dissimilar metals, such as gold, chromium, copper, or aluminum, is diffused into the base
material.20

Grit blasting and glass-bead peening are performed on the threaded area as well as on the sealing
area. The treatment converts the smoothly machined surfaces into surfaces containing a fine
anchor pattern (very small pits or surface indentations) for oil and grease retention.

A-10-9.1 Effect on Galling Resistance


Bare tapered threads are extremely prone to galling during power makeup. This galling starts
with the occurrence of high contact pressures which are able to destroy the lubrication film, thus
causing direct metal-to-metal contact. The following treatments are used to improve the galling
resistance of the connection during makeup21–23:

Phosphating – the phosphate layer improves the compound retention and surface hardness.
Phosphating is commonly applied to carbon steel connections which are less susceptible to galling
problems than are more highly alloyed steels. For these materials, other techniques have been
developed. There is some evidence that manganese phosphate offers better galling resistance than
does zinc phosphate.

Lacquer coatings have been applied on connections made from high-alloy steels. However, the
number of problem-free makeup operations which could be achieved was limited.

Oxalating is applied to high-alloy steels. The oxalate layer improves the surface hardness and the
capacity to hold on to a thin layer of compound.
Electrochemical treatments – the most common electrochemical plating treatments used for
casing connections are the following:
• Copper plating: The most attractive electrochemical surface treatment in terms of galling
resistance is copper plating to a thickness of approximately 10 µm.
• Tin plating: Tin plating is an excellent coating material. However, too high contact
stresses can pulverize the tin layer and destroy the inter-metallic bonding, affecting the
reusability of the connection. Furthermore, there is the risk of liquid metal embrittlement
that might occur in the base material at temperatures above 350°F (175°C).24
• Zinc plating: Conventional zinc-plating baths produce fine-grained, smooth and brittle
deposits, which however have poorer lubricant-retention properties than does tin plating.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-18 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Ion deposition is considered to be process which has some potential for reducing the risk of
galling for critical applications, particularly for high-alloy tubular.
Grit blasting, glass-bead peening – because galling may be promoted by too fine a surface finish,
it is thought that a slightly rough surface aids lubrication by the thread compound trapped in the
surface indentations.12

A-10-9.2 Effect on Sealing Capability


The best anti-galling surface treatment for premium connections is copper coating, but it is
expensive. However, tin plating has been more effective than copper platting in improving the
sealing capability of API connections.7 This is apparently the result of the greater thickness of tin
plating, thereby providing an additional filler for the small clearances between the pin and box
threads.

A-10-9.3 Effect on Corrosion Resistance


Phosphating – the effects of phosphating treatment in inhibiting corrosion are attributed to the
ability of the phosphate layer to hold compound. If the connections are cleaned with a solvent and
the compound layer is not replaced, the protection is largely lost. It is common practice for some
manufacturers to apply phosphating to the field pin ends only as an anti-corrosion treatment. It is
recommended that the same surface treatments should be applied to both ends of the tubular.
Oxalating – the effect of oxalating is similar to the effect of phosphating.
Copper plating – a layer of copper on top of the steel will increase the risk of bimetallic corrosion.
The potential for bimetallic corrosion occurring downhole is limited, however, since oxygen
would be required. Any copper plating that is deposited on the coupling ID bore of steel and 13Cr
couplings should be removed to avoid bimetallic corrosion. During storage and transit, it is
important to provide adequate protection against the ingress of moisture.
Tin plating – the electrochemical potential between steel and tin is small, and the risk of
bimetallic corrosion can practically be ignored; therefore, tin plating gives good protection against
general corrosion. However, the designer should be aware of possible liquid–metal embrittlement
corrosion. See Appendix 5 on corrosion.
Zinc plating is anodic to steel and sacrifices itself to protect the steel.

A-10-10. Thread Protectors


Before casing or tubing joints are installed in a well, they are exposed to a variety of harsh
conditions during transport, handling, and storage. The threaded pipe ends frequently have to
withstand accidental impact loading during shipment from the mill to the wellsite and once at the
wellsite, during handling, cleaning, and running into the hole. In addition, these threaded ends are
often exposed to corrosive environments during storage. Therefore, it is important to protect the
threads and seals against impact loading and water penetration all the way from the mill up to the
drill floor, with a thread protector.

These thread protectors can be divided into two types:


Threaded protector or transit protector – this type of protector for both pin and box can be used
from the mill onward up to the moment the joint is laid down on the casing rack at the location,
EP 2000-9073 A-10-19 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

where it is taken off to allow removal of the storage compound. Most of these heavy-duty-type of
protectors are composed of a molded polymer body reinforced with a cylindrical steel insert.
However, they can also consist of 100% polymer.

Non-threaded protector or handling protector – this type of protector is installed on the pin prior to
lifting the casing joint up to the drill floor. It is usually either a clamp-on type or an inflatable type.

A-10-10.1 Thread Protector Performance Criteria


Until recently there have been no generally accepted performance criteria for protectors, and
selection of a suitable product has been left to the manufacturer or the customer. From research
done at Shell25,26 and by others27 on protectors for 3½ in. (0.0889 m) tubing and 7 in. (0.1778 m)
tubing, a suggestion for acceptance criteria has been developed. The following criteria were
proposed for thread protectors installed on premium connections and were generated on the basis
of conditions expected to occur in the field:

Impact resistance: A protector must be able to absorb impact energy in the axial and radial
direction and also in the angular direction, without damage being inflicted on the threads or
sealing area of the pipe. In addition, the protectors should be able to meet these requirements
under extreme temperature conditions, as stated in API Spec 5CT.3

Protection against water penetration: The protector should be able to prevent water penetration
along the threaded area in order to prevent a potential corrosive attack on thread and seals. This
criterion must be met with or without the presence of suitable storage grease.

Resistance to thread stripping: A protector should be able to sustain an axial load, uniformly
applied around the inner perimeter.

Resistance to vibrational loading: The protector must be able to sustain vibrational loads such as
can occur during transport.

Chemical resistance: If subjected to oil field chemicals, like degreasers and solvents, the volume
of the protector should not increase by more than 10%, and the hardness should not change
significantly.

Weathering resistance: The protector should not show sensitivity to aging as caused by climate.

Thread profile: The thread profile of the protector should provide a number of basic functions:
• It is the primary barrier to moisture; therefore, a good match between protector and threads is
essential. Storage grease is considered to be an additional secondary barrier.
• The profile should provide a locking fit between the protector and the pipe.
• A protector should have a threaded profile all along the threads of the pipe.
• The general fit of a protector should be satisfactory, meaning that the threads of the protector
should have a pitch, a taper, and diameter that correspond within reasonable limits to those of
the pipe end.

Additional criteria: The protector should bottom out near the sealing area of the pipe to protect
the seal from the inside on both pin and box threads.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-20 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

A-10-11. References
1. Snaith, N. N. (1990), Influences of Thread Compounds on Tubing/Casing Connections,
Report EP 90-0572, Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
2. Exxon Torque Position, Performance Properties (and related machining specification) of API
Connections, Exxon Production Research Company, August, 1994, licensed technology.
3. American Petroleum Institute (1998), Specification for Casing and Tubing, Spec. 5CT, Sixth
Edition, October.
4. ISO/DIS 11960, Petroleum and Natural Gas Industries—Steel Pipes for Use as Casing or
Tubing for Wells, dated May 5, 2000.
5. de Waard, C., Geelen, P. M. H., Smith, L. M., Robbe, C., Thomas, M. J. J., and Ashton, S. A.
(1987), Principles of Materials Engineering and Corrosion Control in E&P Operations,
Report EP 87-1780.
6. Otten, G. K. and Cernocky, E. P. (1985), Gas Leakage of Inspected, 95⁄8 in., VAM Casing
Connections due to Machining Defects, and Recommendation of New Inspection Equipment,
Monthly Research Summary, Shell Development Bellaire Research Center, Houston,
September.
7. Allen, M. B., Schwind, B. E., and Wooley, G. R. (1985), Investigation of Leak Resistance of
API 8-Round Connector, Report from Enertech Engineering and Research Company to API
Production Department, May 24.
8. Raulins, M. (1984), How Loading Affects Tubular Thread Shoulder Seals, Petroleum Eng.
Int., March.
9. Maruyama, K., Tsuru, E., Ogasawara, M., Inoue, Y., and Peters, E. J. (1990), An Experimental
Study of Casing Performance Under Thermal Cycling Conditions, SPE Drilling Eng., June,
pp. 156–164.
10. SIPM, EPO/512 (1986), Sealing Ability of Pipe Thread Compounds, DEN 19/86.
11. Weekers, E. E. A. J. and van der Graaf, W. J. A. (1985), Premium Tubing and Casing
Connections: State of the Art and a Selection of Candidates for Testing at KSEPL and Use by
Group Companies, Group Research Report RKGR.85.026 (EP-63893), Koninkl./Shell E&P
Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
12. Snaith, N. N. (1990), Summary of KSEPL Tubing and Casing Connection Tests 1982–1988,
Report EP 90-1862, Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
13. Ender, D. H. and Allen, R. A. (1986), Elastomeric Seals for Deep Sour Gas Applications,
Evaluations of O-Ring Seals, Technical Progress Report WRC 189-85 (EP-65422), Shell
Development Westhollow Research Center, Houston.
14. Ender, D. H. (1985), User Guide – Polymeric Seals for Oil Field Applications, Technical
Progress Report WRC 305-84 (EP-63396), Shell Development Westhollow Research Center,
Houston.
15. Bollfrass, C. A. (1985), Sealing Tubular Connections, J. Pet. Technol., June.
16. Prengaman, D. R. (1986), Anatomy of a Thread Compound, Drilling, August/September.
17. Allen, F. J. and Noffke, R. B. (1987), Thread Compounds: Where Are We and Where Are
We Going, Drilling, November/December.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-21 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

18. Prengaman, D. R. (1981), Thread Compounds – How Do They Work?, Petroleum Eng. Int.,
October.
19. International Research & Development Co. Ltd. (1977), Wear Resistant Surfaces: A Guide
to Their Production, Properties and Selection.
20. White, G. W. (1984), Eliminating Galling of High-Alloy Tubular Threads by High Energy
Ion Deposition Process, SPE 12209, J. Pet. Technol., pp. 1345–1351.
21. Snaith, N. N. and Weekers, E. E. A. J. (1986), Evaluation of the Comparative Anti-Galling
Properties of Three Methods for Applying Thread Compounds to Premium Connections,
Research Summary RKRS.86. 11, Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
22. Weatherford (1991), Tubular Running Manual, WF-TR-MAN, August.
23. SIPM , EPO/512 (1991), VAM AG, DEN 43/91.
24. Krings, R., Coating of Gastight Special Connections to Prevent the Occurrence of Galling,
Report No. 6336 E, Mannesmann.
25. Spruijt, E. J. C. (1986), Performance Evaluation of Commercially Available Thread
Protectors, Group Research Report RKGR.86.072 (EP 86-0727), Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab,
Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
26. Spruijt, E. J. C. (1988), Performance Evaluation of Commercially Available Thread
Protectors, IADC/SPE 17209, presented at 1988 IADC/SPE Drilling Conf., held in Dallas,
TX, February 28–March 2.
27. Dale, B. A., Moyer, M. C., and Sampson, T. W. (1983), A Test Program for the Evaluation
of Oil-Field Thread Protectors, IADC/SPE 11396, presented at IADC/SPE 1983 Drilling
Conf., held in New Orleans, LA, February 20–23.

References Reviewed, But Not Cited


American Petroleum Institute, Enhanced Leak Resistance of API LTC Connections, API Work
Item 2239.
American Petroleum Institute (1987), Bulletin on Performance Properties of Casing, Tubing and
Drillpipe, Bull. 5C2, Twentieth Edition, May 31.
American Petroleum Institute (1994), Bulletin on Formulas and Calculations for Casing, Tubing,
Drillpipe and Fine Pipe Properties, Bull. 5C3, Sixth Edition, October 1.
American Petroleum Institute (1996), Bulletin on Thread Compounds, for Casing, Tubing and
Line Pipe, Bull. 5A3, First Edition, April 1.
American Petroleum Institute (1996), Recommended Practice for Evaluation Procedures for
Casing and Tubing Connections, RP 5C5, Second Edition, November.
Cernocky, E. P. (1987), Ranking of Casing Connections Based on Phase I and Phase II Evaluation
Tests, Report EP 87-0175, Shell Development Bellaire Research Center, Houston.
Cernocky, E. P., Valigura, G. A., Scholibo, F. C., Menchaca, J., Burres, C., and Larson, L.
(1998), Guideline for Using Finite Element Analysis for Connection Evaluation, Technical
Progress Report BTC 29-97, Shell E&P Technology Co., Bellaire Technology Center,
Houston.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-22 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Cernocky, E. P. and Paslay, P. R. (1990), The Importance of Bending in the Burst and Collapse
Design with Particular Application to Horizontal Wells – Based on the Computer Program
CASBEND, Technical Progress Report 52-90 (EP 90-3011), Shell Development Bellaire
Research Center, Houston.
Cernocky, E. P., Otten, G. K., Valigura, G. A., and Peterson, J. L. (1992), Evaluation Tests of
Bestolife-2000 Nonlead Thread Compound for OCTG Service, Bimonthly Research
Summary, Shell Development Bellaire Research Center, Houston, March.
Cernocky, E. P. and Valigura, G. A. (1998), Shell Oil Guideline for Finite Element Analysis of
Sealing or Pull-Out of Threaded Casing/Tubing Connections (public distribution), Shell E&P
Technology Co., Bellaire Technology Center, Houston.
Chelliah, J. C. and Carmona da Mota, A. (1991), Acceptance of Tubular Threaded Connections by
“CONNEX” Programme, Production Newsletter, SIPM, E&P, The Hague, The Netherlands,
March.
Day, J. B., Moyer, M. C., and Hirschberg, A. J. (1990), New Make-Up Method for API
Connections, SPE Drill. Eng., September.
Gaudet, D. R., Scherschel, S. R., and Standen, R. (1987), The Effects of Pipe Dope on Tubing
Leak Detection, Paper No. 87-38-86, presented at 38th Ann. Tech. Meet. Petroleum Society of
the Canadian Institute of Mining, held in Calgary, June 7–10, Vol. 3, pp. 1417–1436.
Hilbert, L. B., Jr., and Kalil, I. A. (1992), Evaluation of Premium Threaded Connections Using
Finite-Element Analysis and Full-Scale Testing, IADC/SPE 23904, presented at 1992
IADC/SPE Drilling Conf., held in New Orleans, LA, February 18–21.
International Standards Organization (1999), Petroleum and Natural Gas Industries—Testing
Procedures for Casing and Tubing Connections—Recommended Practice, ISO/DIS 13679,
October.
Jacobs, N. L. and Stringfellow, W. D. (1991), New Standards Required for Environmental Thread
Compounds, presented at 58th Ann. Meet. National Lubricating Grease Institute (Kansas City,
MO), held in Phoenix, AZ, October.
Kastelein, H. J. and Snaith, N. N. (1988), The Application of Laboratory Tests to the Selection
and Use of Premium Tubing and Casing Connections, Group Research Report RKGR.88.054
(EP 88-2041), Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
Kelley, J. W., Cernocky, E. P., Peterson, J. L., and Merritt, B. K. (1985), Tubular Connection
Evaluation Procedures, Technical Progress Report 16-85 (EP-63043), Shell Development
Bellaire Research Center, Houston.
McDonald, H. (1991), API PRAC 91-51 Status Report, American Petroleum Institute, June.
Morita, Y., Kawashima, H., and Ishihara, K. (1988), Finite Element Simulation of Jumpout
Behaviour of Threaded Pipe Joints Used in Oil-Producing Wells, J. Energy Resources
Technol., March.
Pittman, W. (1992), Casing Design Software – Screening Exercise, Report EP 92-0472.
Rowlands, G. W. and Booth, N. R. (1980), Planning for Deep High Pressured Wells in the
Northern North Sea, EUR244, presented at European Petroleum Conf., held in London.
EP 2000-9073 A-10-23 Restricted to Shell Personnel Only

Scholibo, F. C. and Cernocky, E. P. (1986), Abstracts of Non-Shell Tests of Casing and Tubing
Connections, Technical Progress Report BRC 1-86 (EP-65514), Shell Development Bellaire
Research Center, Houston.
Singer, E., Cernocky, E. P., and Visser, F. J. (1985), Development of a Method to Determine the
Quantitative Reliability of Casing and Tubing Connections Based on Failure Test Data,
Technical Progress Report BRC 92-85 (EP-64498), Shell Development Bellaire Research
Center, Houston.
SIPM, EPO/512 (1988), Casing and Tubing Thread Compounds, DEN41/88.
SIPM, EPO/512 (1991), Qualification of Some Premium Connections, DEN 39/91.
Snaith, N. N. (1992), Test Procedure for Tubing and Production Casing Connections, Report
EP 92-0147, Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschippij, The Netherlands.
Snaith, N. N. (1992), Amendments to API Recommended Practice 5C5 (RP 5C5), Recommended
Practice for Evaluation Procedures for Casing and Tubing Connections (First Edition, January
1990; Corrected Edition, February 1991), Rijswijk Miscellaneous Report RKMR.92.073
(EP 93-0109), Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
van der Valk, C. A. C. (1992), A State-of-the-Art Finite Element Technique for the Analysis of
Premium Tubing Connections, Research Summary RKRS.92.01, Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab,
Rijswijk, The Netherlands, January.
Weekers, E. E. A. J. (1985), Performance of 7-inch, 29 lb/ft N80 NL-ATLAS Bradford TC45
Tubing/Casing Connections Extended API RP37 Tests, Group Research Report RKGR.85.058
(EP-63001), Koninkl./Shell E&P Lab, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.