The Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) has invested £1.3million in “transformational” well plugging and abandonment ideas.
A total of 48 submissions were whittled down to a final four.
BiSN, Strathclyde University, Heriot-Watt University, Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), all landed the investment injection. The projects are expected to facilitate a 35% reduction in decommissioning costs.
The University of Strathclyde’s proposal included using enzymes to repair or improve cement barriers in wells that have been plugged and abandoned. Its low viscosity and nanoparticle size enables it to penetrate and seal the smallest of spaces. The research will apply the ‘biogrout’ technology in typical downhole conditions.
BHGE will work with the OGTC to deliver cement logging through multiple casing strings, improving on existing solutions which deliver logging behind only one casing or tubular. The approach would chip away at the costs and time associated with removing casing to verify barrier integrity.
Over the next decade, 1,400 wells are forecast to be abandoned on the UKCS, at a cost of £7billion.
The Oil and Gas Authority has set a target to reduce those costs by 35%.
The OGA’s gead of decommissioning, Nils Cohrs, said: “It’s great to see this considerable investment in innovative technologies following the Technology Centre’s Call for Ideas. The OGA’s 2016 Stewardship Survey showed that well P&A represents 48% of the total cost of UKCS decommissioning, and developing transformational ideas such as these has the potential to help industry to reduce this cost.”
Neil Saunders, chief executive of oilfield equipment for BHGE, added: “It’s more important than ever for industry players to be open to innovative ways of working and to embrace new technologies that safely enhance operations, reduce costs and maximise efficiency and flexibility. The technology BHGE is developing has the potential to significantly reduce costs for oil and gas operators carrying out decommissioning activities and we are proud that the Technology Centre has recognised these benefits by providing their support.”
The OGTC will also work with BiSN to test and verify the company’s Wel-Lok M2M technology, which utilises a ground-breaking modified thermite heater, in conjunction with bismuth-based alloys, to form a permanent barrier. It provides an alternative to traditional elastomer seals, resins and cement. The concept can be deployed on wireline without the need to remove the tubing.
Heriot-Watt University is developing a modelling framework for
well isolation design that would help evaluate and manage risk, increase efficiency and enhance decision-making.
Professor John Underhill, chief scientist at Heriot-Watt University, added: “This is an exciting and innovative collaborative project that tackles an important technological challenge for the North Sea by leveraging the existing strengths of our different research groups at Institute of Petroleum Engineering (IPE); the project is also well-aligned with our vision for the new Mature Field Management research expertise in IPE.
“I am delighted to see Morteza Haghighat’s leadership in this theme and the partnership being forged with Technology Centre.”
The OGTC established in October 2016 with £180million funding as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal.
To date, the technology accelerator has generated £174.1million in match funding.
The OGTC’s next well construction call for ideas is expected to be launched in the coming weeks. It will focus on new well systems, seabed pressure isolation and ways to stimulate well flow.