ABERDEEN, UK – Clearwell Technology is working on Therm-X-Mill, a thermal energy device for downhole, in situ removal of production tubing components.
The system, which is claimed to eliminate the requirement to recover the completion string from the well during P&A operations, is deployed through tubing via conventional well intervention methods.
Initial prototype testing has confirmed the viability of the process. Next-phase research, co-funded by the UK’s Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) will focus validation of the thermal process in wellbore conditions.
The Chemical Engineering team at the University of Strathclyde is managing this part of the program, developing a model for the Therm-X-Mill to improve understanding of its operation, optimizing performance, and proposing experimental tests.
Field trials should lead to commercialization within 12-18 months.
Another new OGIC-supported program is a technique to monitor the long-term integrity of suspended or decommissioned oil and gas wells in the North Sea, a collaborative project also involving Sentinel Subsea and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
There are currently around 11,000 oil and gas wells in the North Sea, OGIC said, with 2,379 set to be decommissioned over the next 10 years. Suspended wells must be inspected, but this is done on an infrequent basis, and there is no obligation to inspect abandoned wells.
So, a standard approach is lacking at this stage in a well’s lifecycle to integrity monitoring and environmental liability.
The new project will build on a concept devised by Sentinel Subsea for an environmentally-benign tracer compound (SWIFT) that will be pumped into a well before it is sealed. If the well leaks, the compound will only react with a detector material, or ‘trigger’, at the seabed.
The tracer-trigger reaction will cause a buoyant beacon to detach and, on breaching the sea surface, communicate via satellite with its base station, alerting of the need for further investigation of the well to which the beacon was assigned. The system will be capable of detecting even small leaks, the OGIC added.