Fishing and intervention specialist WFR Tools outlines the development of its one-trip SOLO subsea P&A tool, and why Offshore Well Intervention is the place to promote it
Ever since there have been oil wells, pieces of equipment have been lost or stuck in them. Smarter equipment, automation and advances in controls may help to minimise failures, but the art of wellbore fishing is not going anywhere – and given the tough economics of today, it pays to have the right expertise and tools for the job. US-based Wellbore Fishing & Rental Tools (WFR) founded and built its business on providing those two things. Set up five years ago by seasoned fishing tool veterans, the Louisiana-based company provides drilling, completion, recompletion, casing exits, plug and abandonment (P&A), and thru-tubing solutions to oilfield operators in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore in the Permian Basin.
Eschewing the approach of the traditional salesman, WFR’s technical sales personnel perform as consultants, advising on potential solutions and tools according to the particular intervention challenge at hand. In combination with a proactive stance on technology adoption and tool development, this has helped the business stand out. Speaking with InnovOil by phone, executive VP Johnny Hicks explained: “We’re a small focused company, and we’re very much involved with innovation and technology, that’s one of our differentiators – that and our experience.”
The company’s five years in operation have seen it expand from a strong base of clients in subsea and deepwater developments in the Gulf to onshore work in the Permian Basin. New challenges meant new innovations were necessary, and resulted in the creation of new speciality tools and groups, across the company’s various service lines.
Going SOLO “A lot of the technology today that we have focused on has involved deepwater and specifically decommissioning and P&A. There is a big focus on that driven by necessity, and we’ve developed several systems,” Hicks continued. The first of these is the proprietary multi-string Marine Cutter intended for use in decommissioning or P&A operations. This is based on a two-bladed design to cut quickly through multiple strings of casing or large-diameter strings, and can be deployed from fixed or floating platforms, or on land. Its segmented design means the overall tool is more robust, reducing repair costs and downtime. WFR took the same modular approach in developing its section milling tool, using several components that are interchangeable with the multistring cutter, reducing inventory and footprint on the rig or platform.
The reception from industry has been positive, and both tools now have hundreds of runs to date, Hicks added. From there the company looked at new applications, including section-in-a-section (SNS) tools. These are deployed when casings are cemented and the only way to plug off flow is to set a cement plug or a packer. “We built that tool as a system – it’s all new and it’s hydraulically actuated,” he said. “It can also be run in through a smaller casing and opened in a larger casing for section milling or cutting pipe.”
“Looking to subsea and deepwater, we collaborated with TIW Corporation (A Dril-Quip Company) as an exclusive Domestic USA service provider of their Downhole Casing Pull Tool. This collaboration identified a need for a mechanical set, releasable rotating spear,” he continued. This eliminates the need for a downhole motor and provides the option for multiple cuts in one run if required. The integrated “SOLO system” features multiple tools and is designed to enable an entire P&A operation – cut and retrieval – to be completed in a single run. Components include the Marine Cutter, a mechanical set rotating spear, combination ball drop-activated circulation and packoff sub.
“The differentiator of the SOLO system is that it allows you to perform a subsea P&A in one run, avoiding a costly stripping job at surface and a non-sheerable event across the subsea BOP stack,” he added. The BHA is assembled with a hydraulic multistring cutter, the mechanical set and release rotating spear, and the ball-drop packoff sub spaced out in the string. Once the cut is complete, actuating the ball drop packoff sub allows the “B” annulus to be circulated clean of hydrocarbons and debris once the initial cutout is made. This spear can then be set and reset multiple times, allowing users to make a deep cut, release the spear, pull up and reset it below the subsea wellhead, then pull and lay down the casing string without incurring a major stripping job. “Response has been positive and encouraging but as with any new technology most don’t want to be first. However, after extensive testing several jobs are planned for the SOLO system in Q4 2017,” Hicks said.
In addition to the in-house development of tools like SOLO, WFR also maintains close ties with other technology providers. “Since we are a new company with new fully certified and traceable inventory, we also have access to some of the newer technologies,” Hicks added. “We look for opportunities and work very closely with our [original equipment manufacturers] OEMs for new tools or any new technologies that they may have and how we could incorporate that into our inventory.”
Attention to decom Awareness of the cutting edge is important, especially given the changing nature of this particular sub-sector. Older operations, particularly open-hole fishing, he said, are far less necessary today than perhaps 20 years ago. “There is less open-hole fishing in the drilling environments because operators are already directionally drilling – it is so much faster and easier to sidetrack a well, and the economics today do not support a long open-hole fishing job. When you compare the cost of recovering a BHA versus the cost of a day rate on a drillship or a semi-sub, it’s just much more efficient to go around it,” he added.
That means the fishing tool providers like WFR are adapting their expertise to meet new demands. “What we see today is an ever-growing number of wells that need P&A and platforms that need to be decommissioned. That means opportunity for WFR and others in our service sector because a lot of our inventories are already designed and proven for decommissioning operations.”
That also means looking to horizon technologies, such as riserless P&A techniques, which would allow tools to be deployed by intervention vessels rather than drilling rigs. “There are a lot of wells out there that operators would like to plug with riserless systems, and we’re looking into those applications now,” Hicks added.
Knowledge box Hicks also cited the Offshore Well Intervention (OWI) conference as an ideal forum for surveying new technologies, and for WFR to showcase its own. The dedicated Gulf of Mexico event, taking place in Houston over November 1-2, will see a range of new well intervention case studies and technology innovations, such as new completion designs, workover technology and late life management solutions. Delegates include operators, service providers, sector experts and tool manufacturers.
For Hicks and WFR, it has also provided a platform for networking as the company looks to expand its operations to include tool services in international markets such as Europe and West Africa. He will also be presenting on the development and benefits of the aforementioned SOLO system. “OWI is a good link to operators and to others in the sector that we are in – it’s a focused group which allows us to find a lot of common ground for learning and discussion,” he added.
In the meantime, WFR will continue to push its emphasis on expertise and personnel just as much as new technology. “We’re proud of our products, we take things personally, and we realise that with budget constraints how they are today, every run counts,” Hicks told InnovOil. With the company’s knowledge, and with tools like SOLO at its disposal, one run might be all you need.
The 2017 OWI Gulf of Mexico event takes place in Houston, Texas, November 1-2. To enquire or to book your place, visit interventiongom.offsnetevents.com or contact Sam Scarpa on email@example.com