£1.3 million invested in transformational well P&A ideas

We're delighted to be working with Baker Hughes, a GE company, BiSN, Heriot-Watt University and University of Strathclyde.

48 ideas were submitted for ‘Call for Ideas’, with four selected for investment.

Pictured: BiSN's Wel-Lok M2M technology
TDAP IN HOLE MAIN FULL TOOL (modified).jpg
  • 48 ideas submitted for ‘Call for Ideas’ and four selected for investment
  • Projects to help drive 35% reduction in decommissioning costs
  • BiSN, Strathclyde University, Heriot-Watt University, Baker Hughes, a GE company selected
  • Next Well Construction Call for Ideas launches later this month

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre has taken the next step to transform well plugging and abandonment (P&A) by investing £1.3 million in four projects, selected from the original 48 submissions to its Call for Ideas initiative.

Over the next decade, 1,400 wells are forecast to be abandoned on the UKCS, at a cost of c.£7 billion. Developing and deploying new technology to tackle this issue represents a huge prize and supports the industry commitment to reducing decommissioning costs by 35% - a target set by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

OGA’s Head of Decommissioning, Nils Cohrs, said: “It’s great to see this considerable investment in innovative technologies following the Technology Centre’s Call for Ideas. The OGA’s 2016 Stewardship Survey showed that well P&A represents 48% of the total cost of UKCS decommissioning, and developing transformational ideas such as these has the potential to help industry to reduce this cost.”

We’re working with BiSN to test and verify the company’s Wel-Lok M2M technology, which utilises a ground-breaking modified thermite heater, in conjunction with bismuth-based alloys, to form a permanent barrier. It provides an alternative to traditional elastomer seals, resins and cement. Being deployed on wireline without the need to remove tubing, the technology addresses several fundamental downhole sealing challenges simultaneously and could deliver significant time, cost and environmental benefits.

The University of Strathclyde’s idea uses enzymes to repair or improve cement barriers in wells that have been plugged and abandoned. This ‘Biogrout’ technology, currently being developed for other industries, will be assessed in typical downhole conditions. It’s low viscosity and nanoparticle size enables it to penetrate and seal the smallest of spaces.

Heriot-Watt University is developing a modelling framework for well isolation design that would help evaluate and manage risk, increase efficiency and enhance decision-making. This could deliver cost and time savings through reduced scope, remediation and deployment of new technology, such as through-tubing and rigless abandonment.

We’re working with Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), to develop a technology that delivers cement logging through multiple casing strings, improving on existing solutions which deliver logging behind only one casing or tubular. This could reduce the cost and time associated with removing casing to verify barrier integrity.

Our next Well Construction Call for Ideas, which launches in the coming weeks, focuses on new well systems, seabed pressure isolation and ways to stimulate well flow.

Malcolm Banks, Well Construction Solution Centre Manager, said:

“We’re delighted to be investing in four ideas that could have a transformational impact on well P&A. Competition was tough and required a rigorous review process. We’re addressing key challenges facing the industry and look forward to working with the successful organisations to develop their ideas into solutions that deliver real benefits.

“We’re hoping to replicate the success of our well P&A call when we seek ideas on challenges for new wells. Further information will be communicated in the coming weeks and we’d encourage anyone with an idea to take part.”

Neil Saunders, President and CEO, Oilfield Equipment, BHGE, said:

“It’s more important than ever for industry players to be open to innovative ways of working and to embrace new technologies that safely enhance operations, reduce costs and maximise efficiency and flexibility. The technology BHGE is developing has the potential to significantly reduce costs for oil and gas operators carrying out decommissioning activities and we are proud that the Technology Centre has recognised these benefits by providing their support.”

Paul Carragher, CEO, BiSN, said: 

"To receive this funding from the Technology Centre and benefit from the support it brings for the development of our downhole sealing technology - is a fitting end to a successful year, indicating that 2018 will see our company go from strength to strength in the North Sea and beyond." 

Prof. John Underhill, Chief Scientist, Heriot-Watt University, said:

“This is an exciting and innovative collaborative project that tackles an important technological challenge for the North Sea by leveraging the existing strengths of our different research groups at Institute of Petroleum Engineering (IPE); the project is also well-aligned with our vision for the new Mature Field Management research expertise in IPE. I am delighted to see Morteza Haghighat’s leadership in this theme and the partnership being forged with Technology Centre.”  

Dr Gráinne El Mountassir, Lecturer, the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said:

"At Strathclyde we are very excited about this new project. We have been working on the development of Biogrout as a technology for near-surface civil engineering applications over the last seven years, and now we are keen to apply our knowledge to the oil and gas environment.”