OSLO, Norway — There has been a reduction in the number of Norwegian offshore wells temporarily plugged and abandoned (P&A'd), according to research by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).
Its latest overview found that the number of wells in this category declined from 268 in 2020 to 227 in May 2022, with plans calling for 117 of the wells to be permanently P&A’d by 2030.
Under Norwegian regulations, a well that is no longer to be used must be permanently plugged within a reasonable time to safeguard against future leaks, unless the operator has other plans for the well such as reuse, in which case it can be P&A’d temporarily.
The 2022 survey revealed that 32 of the 227 remaining, temporarily P&A’d wells lack continuous monitoring and exceed the maximum limits set for exploration and production wells of two and three years, respectively.
A temporarily P&A’d well without monitoring means that the primary and secondary barriers are not kept under continuous observation and routinely tested.
According to the PSA, the 32 wells in this category include:
- Two platform wells temporarily P&A’d without continuous monitoring – in one case, a future activity plan is under evaluation.
- Five exploration wells temporarily P&A’d for more than two years without continuous monitoring. Four of them were temporarily P&A’d around 1990, and further work is needed before permanent plugging can be completed.
- Twenty-five subsea wells temporarily P&A’d for more than three years without continuous monitoring. Four have been in this status since before Jan. 1, 2014, and are therefore not subject to the regulatory requirement for time limits/monitoring. The remaining 21 exceed the regulatory limit by three years. Twenty of the wells are on a field, which has been offline for upgrading activity.