Operator's Wells Abandonment & Decommissioning campaign consists of 15 Deepwater subsea wells in Field "C" offshore West Africa. Discovered in 2001, the field is located approximately 80 km west of coastline and about 90 km from Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania. Field "C" is a deepwater field in water depth ranging from 730m to 830m. The field was developed using subsea wells, Hinged Over Subsea Templates (HOST), manifolds, flexible flowlines, umbilicals, and risers tied back to a permanently moored FPSO. In total, the field consists of nine (9) oil producer wells and five (5) water injection wells. During the development stage, one (1) gas injection well was drilled and completed at adjacent Field "B" about 17 km Northeast of Field "C". The water depth at this gas injection well location is approximately 280m.
Field "C" reached maturity in 2016. Due to high operating costs, declining production coupled with declining oil prices, the decision was made to cease production, plug and abandon (P&A) and decommission the field. Two phases strategy was engaged by the Operator in order to complete the decommissioning and abandonment of Field "C". In Phase 1, which was executed back in the year of 2017-2018, all the 15 deep water subsea wells were temporarily suspended with two (2) barriers in place. The Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit was decommissioned and disconnected. In line with the strategy of dividing the project into two phases, the information on well integrity and conditions acquired during the Phase 1 Temporary Wells Suspension (TWS) was used by the Operator in planning for Phase 2 – Wells Plug and Abandonment (P&A).
The operator made full use of temporary well suspension period between Phase 1 and Phase 2 for engineering, procurement, and operations preparation. The same drillship was utilized for the project in both phases. Multiple optimizations and modifications were done on the drillship based on lessons learned in Phase 1 and to cater for the subsea Xmas Tree and subsea structures retrieval in Phase 2. Due to the nature of the remote location and no existing oil & gas operations support base, all equipment required in this project was sent to Mauritania early. Equipment inspection and acceptance were carried out in Mauritania as part of the strategy in ensuring the availability of good quality equipment for offshore operations. The operations on Wells Plug & Abandonment commenced in December 2019.
In March 2020, upon declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, operator was faced with difficulty of continuing operation as the Host Country activated border lockdown. The operator managed to continue operations for remaining well and demobilized drillship and personnel safely. Operator has successfully retrieved three (3) subsea Xmas Trees, P&A three (3) wells and intervened six (6) other wells for tubing cutting before operations was suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic. Operator used the suspension phase to devise a methodology to resume operation in the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation. The challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the steps taken for resumption are highlighted in this paper.
It is expected that this paper will serve as guidance in highlighting challenges and efforts taken to resume operation in the event of unforeseen suspension due to any reasons. It is also hoped that the details shared in this paper can assist other Operators in better operation planning for remote locations.