Reducing Costs of Well Plugging and Abandonment While Verifying Risk
- Chris Carpenter (JPT Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 71 - 73
- 2017. Offshore Technology Conference
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 119 since 2007
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This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper OTC 27921, “Risk-Based Approach to Well Plugging and Abandoning: Reducing Costs While Verifying Risk,” by Pedram Fanailoo, David Buchmiller, Simon Ouyang, and Eric Allen, DNV GL, prepared for the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 1–4 May. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2017 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
A risk-based approach to well plugging and abandonment (P&A) has been developed and successfully applied. The recommended method is based on research that allows the modeling of fluid flow through microcracks through a range of failure modes in downhole components, the determination of the effect on the environment through dispersion modeling, and identification of the basis for acceptance criteria. The complete paper describes how various P&A designs can be compared by use of a risk methodology that takes account of degradation mechanisms, potential flow rates, and the effect on the environment.
The application of the proposed method to fields suggests that alternative plugging solutions with fewer barriers than prescribed by the standard NORSOK D-010 guidelines result in the same low level of environmental risk. The method accounts for uncertainty related to input parameters and can be refined further if these uncertainties are reduced over time by field observations and testing.
The proposed approach to quantifying the environmental risk associated with minor, long-term leakage from P&A barriers, overburden formations, and natural seepage is to frame the issue in terms of potential modifications to valued environmental resources. This permits a degree of differentiation between alternative plugging designs, none of which may be physically capable of leading to the type of major leakage treated by standard environmental-risk-analysis approaches.
Description of Well-Abandonment Designs
General. Per NORSOK D-010, a P&A job should be planned and performed with an eternal perspective. Numerous regulations and requirements for different countries and areas of operation exist, but these generally state that there should be at least one permanent well barrier between a potential source of inflow and the surface.
A potential source of inflow is defined in the guideline as a formation with permeability, but not necessarily a reservoir. This requirement does not apply to the case in which the formation is a reservoir, with a reservoir defined as a permeable formation or group of formation zones originally within the same pressure regime, with a flow potential or hydrocarbons present or likely present in the future; in this case, the requirement is two permanent well barriers. These requirements can lead to confusion because NORSOK D-010 does not provide any further explanation of the terms “in-flow” and “flow potential.” Some major operators define “flow potential” as a formation with permeability and over-pressure, meaning that a reservoir can be a formation containing hydrocarbons, a formation with permeability and overpressure, or a combination of both. Furthermore, NORSOK D-010 holds that the last openhole section of a wellbore should not be abandoned permanently without installation of a permanent well barrier, often known as the surface P&A barrier.
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