Oilfield Packer Polymer Applications

By Bonnie Stuck and Nicole Hershberger
Akron Rubber Developments Laboratories, Inc.
Akron, OH

Oilfield Packer Polymer Applications – Testing and Failure Analysis


This paper discusses the use of rubber products in oilfield drilling applications and the analysis of their possible failure modes. Background information on the actual rubber products and their expected environment and service conditions is also presented. The effect different polymers, namely nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR), and carboxylated nitrile butadiene (XNBR), were evaluated within a packer application. Not only were different types of nitrile rubbers evaluated but the acrylanitrile (% ACN) level within the polymer was evaluated as well.


Elastomers play a large role in oil field drilling and service equipment. These types of applications are demanding and require an engineered product from a variety of different polymer families. Elastomeric materials in oil field service play major roles in protecting workers, equipment, and the environment as well as enhancing drilling and zone isolation to maximize well production.1

These elastomer parts are exposed to extremes in temperatures; high pressures, rapid gas decompression, and chemicals within their service lifetime. These rubber components must be made without flaws and perform in these harsh environments with minimal failures. The most common types of polymers used in these applications are acryonitrile-butadiene rubber (NBR), hydrogenated acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (HNBR), carboxylated acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (XNBR), and fluorocarbon terpolymers and tetrapolymers (FKM).

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