Fang Zhigang: Every drop of crude oil is the crystallization of science and technology.

  Editor’s Note: The publicity campaign on the theme of "Chinese Dream: Artisans in Great Countries" was jointly carried out by the National Internet Information Office and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, aiming at vigorously promoting the spirit of model workers, labor spirit and artisans, creating a glorious social fashion of labor and a professional atmosphere of striving for perfection, giving full play to the demonstration and leading role of advanced model figures, and encouraging more workers, especially young people, to take the road of becoming talents and serving the country with skills.

  China Youth Network, Beijing, September 29th (Reporter Mou Haokun Intern reporter Wu Boyang correspondent Hasyeti Kasmu Li Shuangxing) Petroleum is the most important raw material in modern industrial society. Everyone’s food, clothing, housing and transportation are closely related to oil and natural gas.

  For example, a bottle of mineral water on the table, which is put in front of you after water source discovery, mining, purification, bottling and transportation, consumes a third of the oil. If it is fruit juice, the oil consumption will be as much as half a bottle.

  Before graduating from college, like many young people who have never been to an oil field, Fang Zhigang, a first-class engineer in Tuha Oilfield and a technical expert in China Petroleum Gas Lift Center, thought that once an oil well was drilled, the oil could be ejected or pumped out and then applied to all aspects of our lives. However, when he arrived in the Turpan-Hami basin, he realized that oil is contained in rock sand and needs to be "washed out" again and again by water and polymers.

  Recently, the reporter followed the theme propaganda activity of "Chinese Dream, Artisans of Great Powers", and learned about the whole process of oil from exploitation, refining to export, as well as the symbolic brand technology of China oil. "Gas-lift oil recovery is an oil recovery method that injects high-pressure gas into the well from the ground and uses the principle of gas expansion to reduce the liquid density in the wellbore and lift crude oil to the ground." Fang Zhigang is an outstanding representative engaged in this technical research and the leader of the gas lift technical innovation team in recent years.

  "What we are doing is to make oil wells produce high and stable yields."

  "Facing the long yellow sand and the vast Gobi every day, it’s a bit monotonous and lonely after a long time, but I’m used to it." After graduating from college, Fang Zhigang, a young man from the northeast, came to the northwest of the motherland, which gradually made him feel special about this land in Xinjiang. In his eyes, the vast desert contains infinite possibilities. "If you want to dry oil, you want to choose the place with the most oil fields. The most promising place in the future is Xinjiang." He said.

  Fang Zhigang went into the gas distribution room to check the gas injection in the gas lift well at the gas lift technical operation site in Jannarol Oilfield (well 2397). Photo courtesy of respondents

  When he first arrived in Tuha Oilfield, Fang Zhigang came to Tuha Drilling Company for an internship. But the drilling work is a far cry from what Fang Zhigang imagined. Fang Zhigang starts from the construction site every day, lifting drill pipes and removing cuttings. At the end of the day, he is covered with mud and oil. What impressed me the most was that one day a nearby well overflowed and several drilling teams helped to prepare mud. Fang Zhigang and his workmates carried barite powder and poured it into the mud pit in bags. A bag of 25 kilograms, busy from the afternoon until late at night, when the danger is lifted, everyone is tired and paralyzed at the well site.

  This is the first time that Fang Zhigang experienced heavy physical labor. Later, I heard from Master that overflow is the precursor of blowout, and barite powder mixed with mud is used to kill well and make blowout. If you hold down the well, it will be fine. If you can’t hold down the well, it will be a blowout accident, and the most serious machine will destroy people. At that time, what appeared in Fang Zhigang’s mind was the picture of Iron Man Wang Jinxi jumping into the mud pool, and he also understood the special significance behind everyone’s shoulder-pulling.

  After the first Spring Festival in Tuha Oilfield, the company informed Fang Zhigang to report to the Institute of Engineering Technology. When he arrived at the Academy of Engineering and entered the gas lift center, Fang Zhigang’s first task was to design a slim hole expandable packer. At that time, Tuha Oilfield used sidetracking technology to bring a number of old wells and casing damaged wells back to life and re-employed. However, there is no matching small diameter packer in China, so the oilfield decided to develop it by itself.

  When designing the rubber tube, the research team encountered problems. Small size does not have enough bearing capacity, and large size can’t get into the well. Repeated adjustment of the design failed to solve the problem. "It’s like a seesaw, taking care of one end and not caring about the other." Fang Zhigang said.

  After soaking in the workshop for several days, Fang Zhigang pondered it over and over again. He found that the most serious deformation of the rubber tube was mainly at both ends, and this factor mainly affected the sealing performance.

  "Can you change the rubber tube from fixed to movable, so as to reduce the risk of damage and improve the sealing performance?" Fang Zhigang’s idea, after implementation, really solved the problem. Master asserted that a single-minded young man can do technology and research.

  After a period of oil well production, the pressure drop and the output drop, all of which need to be supplemented by artificial lifting to improve the output. In Fang Zhigang’s view, among many artificial lifting oil production methods, gas lift can give full play to the reservoir’s own energy. Under the condition of gas source, gas lift oil production is the first choice and the most economical and effective artificial lifting method in the oilfield. Moreover, gas lift can produce oil in the whole life cycle from the initial stage of production to the final shutdown.

  With gas lift, wells with insufficient energy for flowing production can produce normally, wells with low production can increase production, and wells with high production can obtain higher production. Fang Zhigang often vividly said to the gas lift team members, "What we are doing is to make the oil well high and stable, make the oil field develop efficiently, and strive to make the oil field younger."

  "The mountain is climbed step by step."

  In 2010, Fang Zhigang took over the 48-gas lift technical service of BBA Oilfield in the Middle East, and the biggest problem was gas lift tools.

  The crude oil in BBA Oilfield has "four highs", high sulfur content, high wax content, high carbon dioxide content and high asphaltene content, which requires high sulfur and corrosion resistance for downhole tools. In particular, the oil well is large in size and high in production, and the diameter of the working cylinder of gas lift valve is required to be 168 mm, while the largest size of Tuha gas lift in the past was only 127 mm.

  "The diameter has increased by 41 mm, which seems to have only increased by one-third, but the technological difficulty is geometric growth, which is easy to talk about!" It is time-consuming, heavy-duty and difficult to complete the R&D and manufacturing test of tools and put them into field application within one year. When I first took over the task in 2010, many people described it as an "impossible task".

  "The mountain is climbed step by step, and the ship is shaken out one by one." Fang Zhigang said, "If you don’t do it, you will never succeed."

  When it really gets started, problems follow.

  The first is to prevent hydrogen sulfide. Sulfur is the nemesis of metals. Generally, when metal meets hydrogen sulfide, it will produce "hydrogen embrittlement" phenomenon, and the stress will drop greatly, so it is easy to break off. The upper and lower ends of the working cylinder of the gas lift valve are connected with oil pipes, and the diameter is relatively small, while the diameter of the body part is large, which is "small at both ends and thick in the middle" on the whole. In the past, the working cylinder of gas lift valve mostly adopted welding technology, three-stage combination and two welds. However, sulfur has a great influence on the weld, and the sulfur-proof welding process is more difficult.

  Domestic factories have found one after another, but they can’t guarantee sulfur-resistant welding. "Welding can’t be changed to forging!" Forging is not difficult. Just to solve the problems of shrinkage ratio and compression resistance, I don’t know how many times I optimized the structure repeatedly, and finally I had to choose a special-shaped working cylinder similar to an ellipse.

  Press the hoist to float the ladle, avoiding the welding problem and welcoming the forging test. The special-shaped structure has greatly increased the difficulty of forging, and it is only after half a year of tackling key problems that we have found the top domestic factory in Shenyang.

  Dozens of such large and small problems have been solved, almost all of which are original solutions. Finally, it’s time to wake up the underground gas lift tools. Whether the gas-lift tools that have been dormant underground for several years can be started normally or not, the gas-lift ceremony of Well 028 affects the hearts of all parties in the oilfield. Although every step of gas lift is carefully calculated and thought out, many original technologies are used to extract oil under such harsh conditions, which is unprecedented in China. "Whether it’s a dragon or a worm, we’ll see." Just like welcoming the birth of a child, Fang Zhigang was both nervous and excited in those days. "I still have the confidence to do my own work!"

  At 9: 00 am on July 18, 2017, with the opening of the gas injection valve, natural gas was continuously injected into the wellbore. The primary valve is over-gassed, and the secondary valve is over-gassed … … Two days later, the gas lift well entered the normal working state, and the oil well output rose steadily until it exceeded 30% of the initial daily production. The oil field won the environmental protection award issued by the local government, which is the first time that the local government’s foreign cooperation project has won such an honor for decades.

  "My greatest value is here."

  In North Trouvat Oilfield (Well 7546), Fang Zhigang (third from left) led the team to go deep into the technical service site to carry out technical services. Photo courtesy of respondents

  Working in the oil field and serving the domestic and foreign countries by gas lift is the norm in Fang Zhigang, and even the wife who works in the same unit rarely meets it.

  At the end of 2014, his father, who was far away in the northeast, was critically ill, and Fang Zhigang hurried back to his hometown. When I met my father in the hospital, my condition was so serious that it was no longer suitable for treatment. Father said, "Son, let’s go home." Going home that day, my father died in the middle of the night.

  I have been working for many years, far away from my hometown, and there are only a handful of days to be with my father. Children want to raise and don’t stay close. Fang Zhigang said that the most regrettable thing is that he failed to convince his father to come to Xinjiang to live together before his death.

  After the birth of his youngest daughter, he was away on business all the year round. I have a vacation once in a while, but I can’t stay for a few days. When I first met my father, my little daughter felt strange and cried. Go to bed at night and drive straight out. A few days later, I finally got a little hot, and it was time to go again.

  In 2011, Tuha gas lift entered the Middle East market. As the head of the Middle East project in Beijing, Fang Zhigang is as busy as a top every day. In July, it was the critical moment of business operation, and the two daughters had a high fever at the same time. Three days later, I still have a high fever. The wife was really desperate, so she called Fang Zhigang.

  Report to the leader, immediately grant leave, and arrange for colleagues in Tuha Oilfield to coordinate vehicles and help take care of them. Fang Zhigang finished the work at hand overnight, and instructed his colleagues. Only then did he fly back to Xinjiang in a hurry and rushed to the hospital. At this time, the child’s body temperature exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, especially the one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who has been in a coma since she had a fever. The doctor suggested that she be transferred to the hospital immediately. Rushed to Urumqi overnight, the hospital arranged directly into the intensive care unit. Seeing the child with an oxygen tube and a stomach tube, this strong northeast man shed tears.

  Fortunately, three days later, the high fever eased and the child could open his eyes, so the couple were a little relieved. A week later, the child was transferred to the general ward. Fang Zhigang was ready to put up with his wife’s complaints and scolding, but she didn’t say anything. She understands that most oil families do.

  A few years ago, some mainland enterprises also offered olive branches with high salaries, hoping to seek common development. Fang Zhigang declined politely. He said: "It is my breath that has made me. My greatest value is here, and the stage for giving full play to my talents is also here."