Swellable packers have been in the field for over ten years now. What was once new technology is now common. There are numerous manufacturers and distributors of swellable tools.
In most industries, as a product matures and more companies offer similar versions of it, price becomes a determining factor. If price is the key the product can be considered a commodity.
So have Swellable Packers become commoditized?
One could make the case for both yes and no depending on the application.
While there may be some “standard” oil and water swell formulas that are offered by most companies, there is a strong need for customization to fit specific application parameters.
Well conditions such as the following dictate some degree of customization to provide an optimum solution:
- Flush fluids
- Swell time required
- Pressure required
Some manufacturers may offer formulations that fall in the range of the general well requirements, and these may indeed be sold strictly on price. If all suppliers are the same, price and delivery are the key buying keys.
But all manufacturers may not be the same even on the “commodity” products. Those suppliers that compound the rubber, calendar the rubber and actually build the packer are in a position to offer a more aggressive price point, than those outsourcing some or all of these steps.
Customization of swell formulas become more critical in new well applications where one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. That customization removes swellable tools from commodity status, but again all suppliers are not equal. Development, test and delivery time become the pacing items in this buy decision.
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