Vallourec VAM SPRINT-FJ: A revolutionary approach to meeting the tight clearance demands of many shale plays


The latest addition to the expanding series of semi-premium products for the shale market, VAM SPRINT-FJ has emerged as a high-performance solution that allows operators to set intermediate strings at least 2,000 feet deeper with maximum clearance. Extensive teamwork produced a customized yet cost effective design—without sacrificing on performance—to meet customer’s needs.  

Many shale operators are facing additional clearance requirements in intermediate casing due to more stringent protocols designed to improve isolation of non-productive layers. Therefore, they need a flush connection with maximum clearance, combined with high tension efficiency in order to set the casing strings at the desired depth.

“As recently as a year ago, a solution like this didn’t exist,” says Logan Van Gorp, Vallourec Project Engineer, R&D. “So, we had to come up with a new product to meet our customer’s specific needs.”

Through extensive collaboration, the Vallourec and VAM teams did just that: VAM SPRINT-FJ was officially launched in November 2020.

A one-stop solution for shale plays

“VAM SPRINT-FJ is a one-stop solution,” explains Orleth Bryan-Tortolero, Technical Sales Manager, OCTG. “It combines pipe and thread from a single vendor at optimal cost. Operators not only value the simplification of the supply chain but also the added benefit of having pipe specifications and thread design development controlled by the same high-quality standards. No other vendor offers a semi-premium flush connection, combined with pipe supply, with such a high-tension efficiency of 80%. We’re truly pioneers for this specific product.”

This new connection also offers fast and easy running with fewer turns to make-up thanks to a unique tapered dovetail thread design combined with knurl marks on the pin. With make-up to position and a lower number of turns, VAM SPRINT-FJ can be run at least 25% faster than other flush connections. The product’s high clearance capacity ensures highly efficient running and simpler operations compared to other connections of the same class.

VAM SPRINT-FJ connections are available in 7-5/8”, 8-5/8” and 8-3/4” OD. The product’s carbon steel grades include Sour Service as well as Enhanced API.

And thanks to Vallourec’s state-of-the-art seamless mill capabilities and excellence in connection design and testing protocols, operators can rest assured they will fully benefit from the highest quality in manufacturing and connection performance. 

 A collaborative effort to achieve cost-efficiency and high quality

The road to market for VAM SPRINT-FJ wasn’t easy but proved to be a collaborative success. For example, meeting the demand for 80% high-tension efficiency in a cost-effective flush option pushed the limits of connection design. “From the start, this was truly a team effort,” says Justin Gessel, Industrialization Engineer, VAM USA. “R&D developed several initial design concepts. Production provided cost estimates and feedback on design features that might lead to a high reject rate. Additionally, local and global VAM expert teams identified further adjustments to reduce cost without sacrificing performance.”  

Another key factor was testing. VAM R&D developed a customized testing protocol to cover intermediate string applications, with additional parameters such as limited gas testing and increased operational torque. “VAM also optimized insert design and programming to make the threading process more efficient” Logan adds.

Teaming up with the customer to design a high-performance product

The Vallourec team was able to deliver VAM SPRINT-FJ in record time—only one year from the start of R&D. In fact, a significant amount of time was saved because many aspects normally carried out during the industrialization phase were done during the development phase. While this approach can be risky, the excellent team dynamic contributed to a speedy and seamless process.

“The only way concurrently engineered products like this end up working is if everyone works together on the same team,” Logan says. “This project is a great example of that.”

The close relationship with the customer was also cited as a main ingredient to success. According to Orleth, the team collaborated with customers like partners, which enabled VAM SPRINT-FJ to meet the customer’s technical requirements on all counts.

“Today, we not only have a technically high-performing and cost-effective product available to the customer who commissioned it but also to all operators in the shale market” added Orleth.

To learn more about VAM SPRINT-FJ, click here

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