Plug and Abandonment (P&A) is the largest category in Decommissioning expenditures, representing 40-44 percent of the total investment that basically comes as mandatory cost with no expected return. If the well operator gets P&A inadequate, results may include water flows, gas or oil seeps from the seabed, or underground cross flow between formations with huge impact on environment and marine life. The objective of this paper is plasma-based technology for enhanced casing section milling addressing the P&A challenges.
According to some oilfield service providers, two main P&A challenges are as follows: Time and expense of casing milling - for example, Norwegian regulations call for cementing two 50-meter sections of casing above and below each hydrocarbon-bearing zone. Each section may take more than 10 days to mill and may generate four tons of swarf. The second challenge is swarf damaging blow out preventer (BOP) - Milling generates swarf, which then must be removed before cementing. However, swarf removal can damage the BOP. To avoid well integrity issues, BOP has to be dismantled, inspected and repaired at considerable expense.
The presented paper is focused on technology eliminating the P&A challenges. The core of the technology is based on plasma generator producing high temperature water steam plasma for rapid steel structural degradation. This approach brings a radical abandonment of the classic rotary approaches with connected tubes in long strings and generation of swarf which need to be removed. Besides elimination of aforementioned challenges, the technology advantages include also rigless operation since the system is designed for coiled tubing solution. This feature brings additional cost savings using Light Weight Intervention Vessel (LWIV). Moreover, fully automated coiled tubing goes hand in hand with enhanced safety of the operational staff.
Impact and potential of the technology is to change, simplify the process of P&A and therefore significantly cut the time of whole P&A. The technology is currently under development with expected commercialization within three-year period.