Pipe Recovery: Chemical Cutters

Pipe After Utilizing Chemical Cutters

Chemical cutters dissolve pipe with a clean cut that leaves no debris and does not require milling prior to pipe retrieval. The tool can be adapted for many special cutting applications where other cutting methods may be ineffective or undesirable.

Chemical cutters can shorten operating time and reduce rig costs. Additionally, they can be used to release specially designed permanent packers, and to cut pipe and casing during plug and abandonment operations.

The following information is from the Chammas Cutters, Inc. website:


CCI Chemical cutters offer many advantages, namely:

  • Clean cuts, eliminating the need to redress the top of the fish due to flaring, saving time and money.
  • Cutting the internal sleeve of a packer eliminates the need for milling.
  • Being able to cut the internal pipe with out affecting the external casing or adjacent pipe.
  • Complete compatibility with the most common firing systems in use today.
  • CCI cutters are fully retrievable equipment with zero residual debris.
  • Flexibility in size to allowing for string restrictions, and also the ability to produce custom sizes that might be needed for specific situations.

How The Chemical Cutter Works

  1. The CHEMICAL CUTTER is a mechanical/chemical pipe cutting/puncturing device that is based on the oxidation/reduction process.
  2. An igniter is initiated electrically or mechanically that in turn initiates the Gas Generator Grain. The Grain burns at a controlled rate increasing the pressure and temperature in the system.
  3. Gas pressure forces the anchor out to anchor the tool inside the pipe and prevent the tool from moving.
  4. Gas pressure continues to increase inside the tool, forcing the seal discs in the Cylinder to rupture.
  5. The chemical (Bromine Trifluoride) is then forced through an oil/steel wool mixture, placed at the top of the severing head. The BF3 chemical reacts with the oil and ignites the steel wool.
  6. The combination of the chemical and reactant causes the temperature and pressure in the chamber to increase. When the pressure exceeds the hydrostatic well pressure and the strength of the piston support washer, the Severing Head Piston moves down to expose the severing orifices. Through these orifices the activated chemical is forced at high pressure and temperature to preheat and cut the wall of the tubing at the desired position.
  7. After the chemical has been expelled, pressure in the CHEMICAL CUTTER equalizes with the hydrostatic pressure allowing the anchors to retract under the action of their respective springs, and releasing the tool from the tubing, so that it can be retrieved from the well.

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