HydraWell’s PWC tooling system can plug wells in a matter of days – saving operators weeks
With unrelenting pressure to reduce costs in well intervention and decommissioning, renewed attention is being paid to technologies and innovations which can aid plug and abandonment (P&A) operations. Norway-headquartered HydraWell designs and manufactures a range of intervention, cementing and perforation tools. Most notably in this case, the company has developed a proprietary product suite known as the Perforation, Wash & Cement® (PWC®) system. Using a number of patented tools, this system is capable of plugging offshore wells in just two or three days – considerably faster than the traditional method of section milling. The company was founded in 2010, with an idea that it would be possible significantly to lower the costs of P&A, slot recovery and well repair operations with a more effective and cost-efficient restoration of zone isolation integrity. It found success with its first-generation PWC technology – HydraWash – before going on to develop the second-generation, HydraHemera system.
“The essence of our technology is to enable operators to save huge amounts of rig time as well as to reduce their HSE risk and environmental footprint from not having to bring swarf cuttings topside,” HydraWell CEO Mark Sørheim explained.
According to Sørheim, the original impetus came from a call for ideas from ConocoPhillips Norway. “The oil services firm asked the industry for alternatives to section milling when plugging wells with no hydraulic seals in the annulus. HydraWell suggested a system where the plug length was abrasively perforated and the annulus debris removed and replaced with proper cement,” he explained. The HydraPerf system was replaced by the HydraWash system using conventional tubing-conveyed perforating (TCO) guns, and the first PWC plug was run late in 2010.
Jet set Central to the company’s current operations is the HydraHemera™ PWC jetting system, a multi-part system designed to enable well plugging across multiple annuli, and negating the need for section milling altogether. The system is comprised of two components deployed in a single-run assembly: a HydraHemera Jetting Tool and a HydraHemera Cementing Tool. The former uses a series of jet nozzles positioned at irregular angles to wash thoroughly and remove debris from the annuli, including behind multiple perforated well casings. This clears the area of debris, old mud, barite and cuttings, and spaces the area with clean mud. Following the jetting, a ball-drop mechanism activates the Cementing Tool.
Cement is pumped downhole and used in combination with the HydraArchimedes™ tool – a curved rubber-bladed tool which forces cement through the perforations, filling the annulus – to place plugging material in the entire rock-to-rock cross-section of the well.
After cementing, the tool will then be pulled above the top of cement (TOC) and the P&A plug tested according to the operator’s procedure. This creates a solid barrier for P&A, or from which to begin a sidetrack well. This one-trip approach is considerably faster than many of the alternative methods, and without swarf or the risk of damage to the blow-out preventer (BOP) associated with milling. Tools are also available for all casing cases.
The company is confident of the significant time savings that PWC offers. “It enables operators to plug a well in 2-3 days instead of 10-14 days, which is the average for the traditional section milling method. If the operator requires a rig – a semi-sub or a jack-up – to plug the well, you can multiply the rig’s day rate with 8-10 days. That’s how much an operator would save per well when utilising HydraWell’s HydraHemera™ PWC jetting system,” said Sørheim. In one example at Aker BP’s Valhall field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), the operator’s total P&A campaign was reduced from 118 days to 50 through using HydraWell solutions. “ConocoPhillips’ Ekofisk Alpha field was plugged and abandoned almost one year ahead of budgeted time,” Sørheim added. “If you multiply the rig rate with number of rig days saved, you reach some very high figures.”
Growing market So far, HydraWell has used the PWC system in more than 200 applications worldwide. P&A is so far the biggest part of the company’s business, but Sørheim told InnovOil that an increasing amount of operators were starting to use PWC for both slot recovery and annulus pressure remediation operations.
While still early days, the response to PWC from industry has been largely positive. “As with any new technology, the market is hesitant at first, but given the huge cost-saving potential, almost all operators have been positively curious from day one. As soon as the first few plugs were set, a lot of operators opened the door for us. However, we would not have been where we are today without ConocoPhillips Norway. They encouraged us and gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our technology,” he added.
Lately, the UK’s growing decommissioning responsibilities have ushered in a string of new contracts. Centrica North Sea awarded HydraWell a three-year frame contract to provide plug & abandonment (P&A) technology and services for the operator’s “A Fields” in the southern part of the North Sea.
That was followed by another in mid-August 2017, when the UK arm of an undisclosed super-major awarded the company a frame agreement to provide technology and services for all of its P&A and well repair operations on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). The agreement covers the use of the second-generation HydraHemera system under a three-year agreement, with two additional one-year options for extension.
The operator also has a contract option to extend the use of HydraWell’s technology to all of its operated assets worldwide. This builds on the success the company has already had with the tool. “Last year, the client in question utilised our technology on three wells. Afterwards they approached us about entering into a frame agreement. We cannot think of any better endorsement from a client. The fact that another super-major gives us their seal of approval makes this agreement even more special,” added Sørheim.
HydraWell will be exhibiting at Offshore Europe 2017. To learn more, visit the company’s stand at #1F103