In 2016 we looked at rapidly increasing lateral lengths and decided that horizontal well completions would be done by big workover rigs in the future, declaring – while paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Hamlet – that the industry would "shuffle off this mortal coil(ed tubing)". And while we were right for a while, the tide has turned in 2018. Coiled tubing is back, it is alive, and it is growing.
Consider this graph:
Global Coiled Tubing Services Market
This references our Oilfield Market Report and our detailed Coiled Tubing Report. The sector is in growth mode in 2018, driven by surging use of large-diameter continuous tubing to complete extended reach horizontal wells in the US.
When E&P companies decided to use coiled tubing for 10,000’ laterals, a series of investment decisions were triggered in rapid succession: Long laterals meant large diameter tubing, large diameter tubing meant massive coiled tubing vehicles and high-capacity injector heads; large vehicles and big injector heads meant intense training for field personnel… And that had to happen coming out of a balance sheet-destroying 2016.
We weren’t completely wrong a couple years ago because large well servicing rigs are also busy completing long lateral horizontal wells, but these huge coiled tubing units running large diameter continuous tubes are the current darlings of the well completions sector and are receiving significant growth investment.
So, to continue with our paraphrasing of Shakespeare, here’s some Julius Caesar:
There is a tide in the affairs of (coiled tubing). Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of (coiled tubing) Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea (coiled tubing is) now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.