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A new way to plug and abandon


The potential for HydraWell’s plug and abandonment services is enormous. In addition to its 3,000 active wells, Norway is planning to drill a further 3,000 new wells within the next 20 years. Looking further afield, the UK has about 6,000 wells currently in operation and in the Mexican Gulf there are about 20,000. The potential in the landbased market is just as huge, particularly in North America.

“Existing plug and abandonment technology has been around for a long time now and is both costly and time-consuming,” explains General Manager Morten Myhre. “We were challenged by one of the major operators in the North Sea to come up with a more cost-effective solution and in response we developed a completely new technique that reduces the time required to seal the well from ten or eleven days to just three days, while still adhering to the regulations.”

Sealing a well traditionally involves section milling in which a section of the casing is removed and filled with a cement plug. This requires several trips into the well to perform the various stages of the procedure. HydraWell has developed a tool that simplifies the process while still ensuring a permanent seal. “So far, we have carried out 99 jobs, all of them offshore,” says Mr. Myhre. “They have mainly been for Norwegian clients but we also have some UK clients and recently completed a job in the Gulf of Mexico. The Middle East is also an interesting market for us.”

This is an impressive record for a company that was only founded in 2008. HydraWell currently commercializes three plugging systems out of 15 currently in development. “Almost all our product or technology developments are initiated by an operator on whose behalf we solve the technical challenge and develop a system with a particular situation in mind”, explains Mr. Myhre. “This is the key to keep both the focus on the challenge and the sustainability aspects within the project. Unformtunately, there are many promising developments which will never result in a commercial product as the focus is lost over time. The client co-funds the project and tests the prototype. In the end, the technology belongs to us but the customers who has been funding the project will receive an attractive fee in the future.”

There is a lot of interest in plugging and abandonment technology at present from the industry. HydraWell is currently defining its strategy for the future.

“We have to decide how big we want to become,” says Mr. Myhre. “The potential is certainly there but the question is how we want to exploit it. We could license our products to others or become a big operational player in the industry ourselves. At present, we are limited in the number of operations we can carry out simultaneously but on the other hand our interest is more in research and development.”

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