Permanently Plugging Deepwater Wells Challenges Standard Operating Procedures

Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes.
Baker Hughes’ Harpoon cut and pull spear uses diamond-tipped cutters to cut casing.

After a well has produced its last oil and gas, it must be plugged and abandoned (P&A). The phrase suggests it will remain sealed forever. “What we want when we abandon a well is we never want to come back to it,” said Don Stelling, president of Chevron Environmental Management Company. Compared with the 30- to 40-year life expected of most facilities, “it is a difficult engineering standard.”

And it will be getting more difficult. The wells of the future include many in stormy seas and deep water, magnifying the cost of what the United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) describes on its website as “safely plugging the hole in the Earth’s crust.”

Estimating the scale of this work is a highly inexact exercise. There are many interdependent variables affecting cost and demand.

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Permanently Plugging Deepwater Wells Challenges Standard Operating Procedures

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

01 December 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 12


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