This paper demonstrates a new method of using remotely operated intelligent bridge plugs to replace conventional plugs, thereby eliminating the need for multiple wireline runs. This reduces operational expenses and eradicates potential health, safety, and environment (HSE) challenges resulting from additional personnel involvement in the pressure control equipment rig up and testing.

Use of traditional plug-and-prong barriers and retrievable bridge plugs is integral in plug and abandonment (P&A) operations. However, multiple wireline runs are required in wells with considerable gas buildup.

The well in this paper had a considerable amount of gas buildup in the annulus that required periodic circulating. Use of an intelligent bridge plug offered the potential to open and close the plug remotely because the plug uses onboard decision-making electronics that monitor well condition. The plug is programmed to either open or close whenever a specified condition (known as a trigger) is detected.

The intelligent bridge plugs allowed the operator to communicate with the tool remotely from the surface using applied pressure commands, and the plugs were opened and closed periodically to circulate the gas buildup out of the annulus. The plugs were later closed remotely to act as a barrier while the christmas tree was removed and the blowout preventer (BOP) was installed. The plugs were finally opened and pulled along with the tubing, saving further wireline runs.

The operator was able to circulate all of the gas buildup in this mature well and continue the P&A operation. The well discussed in the case study used the intelligent plug to remotely open and close nine times. This saved 18 wireline runs in comparison to a conventional retrievable bridge plug. Considerable financial savings were achieved by removing intervention runs, and HSE risks involved with rigging up and running wireline were also eliminated in this case. Because of the benefits provided by using the intelligent plug, the operator plans to perform future P&A operations without mobilizing a wireline unit to the rig.

The industry is beginning to experience an increase in P&A operations. Minimizing costs without sacrificing safety is of utmost importance. The groundbreaking use of remotely operated intelligent bridge plugs for P&A operations could be a timely supplement to existing solutions.

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