WINDSOR, UK – Spirit Energy has successfully tested a new decommissioning technology that could cut the cost of P&A’ing offshore wells.
The technique, developed byInterwell, underwent its first test in Europe at a well in Caythorpe, northern England.
It involves use of thermite and a controlled chemical reaction in the well rather than the traditional cement plug. Spirit Energy co-funded the test program with the Oil & Gas Technology Centre.
The thermite reaction has long been used for welding railway tracks together, and if proven to also work offshore, could substantially lower P&A costs, Spirit Energy claims.
Oil & Gas UK estimates nearly £17 billion ($22.5 billion) will be spent on decommissioning on the UK continental shelf between now and 2025, with well P&A accounting for nearly half this figure.
The Caythorpe trial followed similar tests in Canada. Spirit Energy is working with Interwell, other operators, and regulators to gain acceptance for the technology as a permanent barrier and to identify further potential decommissioning projects.
Malcolm Banks, Wells Solution Centre Manager for the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said: “The technology could save the UK oil and gas industry more than £100 million [$132 million] per year but that’s only possible if we continue to work together with the project partners and the regulator to gain acceptance for it as a permanent barrier.”