During a recent project in the Middle East, an operator required
isolation of non-producing perforations to reduce water production and deliver
more efficient hydrocarbon recovery. Coretrax deployed its ReLineWL rigless
expandable straddle which eliminated the requirement for a rig, delivering an
efficient solution to production optimization.
SCOTT BENZIE, chief technology officer at Coretrax
The last five years have undoubtably been one of the most
transformational periods in the oil and gas industry’s history. The combination
of the global pandemic and rising climate change tensions has resulted in the
oil and gas sector reviewing current portfolios to identify opportunities to
reduce its carbon footprint and deliver more sustainable operations.
While the energy transition continues to evolve, and the
rising demand of renewable energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels, there is
still a clear need for oil and gas in the near future with a recent industry
report highlighting that oil and gas is set to compromise 49% of the energy mix
In response to global environmental targets, a radical
shift has taken place within the energy industry with regards to environmental,
social and governance (ESG) strategies and companies are under growing pressure
to recover hydrocarbons utilising more responsible methods. For operators, this
move has resulted in an increased focus on unlocking greater commercial value
from existing wells to deliver continued energy security, but with a reduced
carbon intensity. Technology is playing a key role in this activity, with new
and advanced solutions supporting field life extension by tackling the most
complex and mature well challenges.
DRIVING RESPONSIBLE ENERGY PROVISION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
In the Middle East, there has been clear steps to support
more sustainable operations in recent years. The region is one of the largest
producers of oil in the world, with large reserves in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the
United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. In line with international climate objectives,
national oil producers in the area have made clear steps to identify where
environmental savings can be gained, while continuing to meet global energy
Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company (NOC)
released its first ever sustainability report last year, which highlighted the operator’s
ambition to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions
across its wholly owned operated assets by 2050. The company is already the world’s
lowest carbon emitter when compared to leading producers, demonstrating that
decarbonisation methods and efforts are working2. The report also
noted how the business will continue to increase its share of investment in
research and development to leverage new technology and address sustainability
With the Middle East such a high activity region, it offers
significant opportunities for operators to apply new technology which will deliver
maximum recovery in existing wells.
Effective well intervention for maximum
Well intervention is crucial to increasing operational
efficiency and garnering greater hydrocarbon recovery. By extending the life of
existing wells, this activity can also actively reduce the requirement to drill
new wells by optimizing production from current reservoirs. With the global well
intervention market projected to reach USD $9.3 billion by 2026 from an
estimated USD $7.6 billion in 2021 it is evident that operators are eager to
enhance efficiency and improve existing production3.
Water production is a common issue in producing wells which
can often exacerbate as the field matures, resulting in costly and time
consuming remediation. The produced water can contain toxic and hazardous
substances, high levels of salts, and other impurities that make it difficult
to handle and pose a risk to the environment. Large volumes of water can also
create storage and transportation challenges in addition to the high cost of
treatment and disposal. Straddles have been a traditional method used to
effectively isolate sections of open-hole or perforated casing which are
experiencing significant water production to reduce the by-product and boost
However, many conventional straddles are
generally deployed via WireLine methods, creating considerable operational
expenditure and can often restrict the inner diameter (ID) of the well, meaning
any future well intervention operations will be significantly more complicated.
Particularly in the Middle East, rigless operations for the deployment of
expandable technology is still a relatively new concept.
While the oil and gas industry has embraced a range of
technically advanced straddles over the last decade, the tools were generally
designed to be a temporary, retrievable solution so often have a limited lifespan.
Conventional straddles can also pose the risk of choking production, leading to
further work required and many result in significant reduction of ID, which can
negatively impact production rates as well as increase project costs.
During a recent
onshore campaign in Saudi Arabia, a major operator required isolation of
non-producing perforations but was seeking a more efficient method when
compared to traditional straddles. The operator required a system which could
be deployed via a rigless method to support these objectives. Coretrax, a
global leader in oil and gas well integrity and production optimization,
deployed its ReLineWL expandable straddle to achieve the projects aims, Fig. 1.
Advanced technology to drive production
Coretrax was approached by the operator when it required
isolation of non-producing perforations over two upper formations in an
unconventional tight gas formation, while leaving the lower perf live for
production. Of the four perforated zones in the tight gas wellbore, only one
was producing. The remainder were creating significant volumes of water.
A detailed multi-finger imaging tool (MIT) assessment was
first conducted to provide accurate and detailed data of the current geometry
and condition of the wellbore ID. To further reduce the carbon intensity of the
project, analysis of the information collected was conducted remotely to reduce
personnel onsite. Following full evaluation by Coretrax’s field technicians and
the operator, the ReLineWL expandable straddle was selected as the most
suitable solution as it would adequately support wellbore loads.
The permanent system
can be run on a wireline, eliminating the need for expensive rig deployment,
and its slim outer diameter (OD) means it is capable of passing through ID
restrictions such as sub-surface safety valves, Fig. 3. In this particular project, the well had an internal diameter
of 4” but presented a further challenge with a 3.688” nipple restriction. The
tool was specifically designed to pass this restriction and the expandable technology
allowed it to bypass the nipple before it was set below.
The system can effectively isolate leaking or compromised completions
components including sliding side doors, inflow control valves, inflow control
devices, gas-lift valves and chemical injection valves amongst others. Its
shoeless design also means there is no requirement for a drill out to be
completed, so the tool saves valuable rig time with a one-trip solution and
does not introduce any unwanted debris into the wellbore.
To ensure the
operation remained economical during the intervention, it was essential the
well remained live to negate the need for any downtime, so the tool had to be
capable of withholding high pressures while setting the expandable straddles.
Without this capability, the gas would have to be vented from the well to
reduce the load. This procedure often requires specialist equipment and can
take up to 20 days, resulting in significant downtime. The ReLineWL system was
designed to operate in live well conditions (Fig, 5), with its external pressure ratings capable of sustaining
formation pressure loads.
Delivering extended reach with expandable
The trouble zone extended a 30ft section and with the
ReLineWL’s ability to stack, it allowed it to support the non-producing area. The
expandable seals were designed and manufactured to deliver a gas tight seal
indefinitely at any expansion ratio within the wellbore and for the life of the well. Many conventional straddles are not
suited to large problem zones as big-bore patches do not stack neatly, meaning
the isolation of several perforation intervals often limits the ID of the well,
negatively impacting overall production rates.
Three 3-5/8” OD straddles
were deployed on wireline, removing the requirement for a rig, at depths of up
to 13,531ft and successfully expanded to isolate the non-producing sections within
the liner. The patches were
confirmed through MIT log post. Once in place, the tool’s 75% expansion ratio
ensured a maximum production conduit to surface, delivering a 700% greater flow
area when compared to traditional straddles, Fig. 4. By creating a large ID, the ReLineWL effectively optimized
access to the wellbore while negating integrity issues. To enhance production
even further, the system can also be configured to smart completion products
such as autonomous inflow devices (AICDs) to selectively eliminate gas and
water production and provide a comprehensive workover solution.
The application of the technology successfully eliminated
the requirement for a land rig, delivering significant cost savings and
reducing the project’s carbon footprint. By enabling continuous access to the
reservoir below, the operator could also efficiently carry out future diagnostics
or data gathering. If the ReLineWL had not been deployed, the operator would
have been forced to plug and abandon the well.
Rig-less well intervention to reduce carbon intensity
Coretrax’s expandable technology garnered similar results during
a recent project in Saudi Arabia when a major national operator experienced
significant water ingress across a 4½” liner which was negatively impacting
production levels. The remediation had to provide an optimal length of less
than 30ft with an ID of more than 3” while delivering a life of well solution. Following
well data analysis, a 3.7” OD ReLineWL was selected as the optimal system.
In separate deployments two patches, 28ft each in length,
were deployed on an e-line electric cable effectively passing a 3.77” ID
restriction at 6,465ft. They were set within the liner, with the depth
correlated using a casing collar locator (CCL) and Gamma ray technology, before
being successfully expanded across the water producing zones. The post
expansion solution delivered an ID of 3.145”, providing a maximum conduit to
The ReLineWL eliminated the requirement for an expensive
workover rig and the well was effectively brought back online with a reduction
of around 31% in unwater production and an estimated 1,400 barrels per day
increase in oil production. This system also delivered environmental benefits
by significantly reducing the requirements for surface water management.
Bespoke solutions to meet demand
As expansion technologies continue to advance, they can now
be customized for integrity, recompletion and open-hole applications, providing
casing patch and refracing solutions to an industry that is increasingly being
driven by cost efficiency, safety and sustainability responsibilities. The
chassis of the ReLineWL was originally designed to accommodate the most common casing
sizes but is not limited to these requirements. This bespoke approach will be
vital as the industry continues to tackle more complex and challenging wells in
the pursuit of lowering carbon emissions.
Supporting the energy transition
The ReLineWL directly addresses challenges that corroded or
compromized tubing carries, including loss of well integrity, rising produced
water level and mud management cost. However, the tool distinctively goes
beyond its ability to support wellbore integrity with its primary functions
supporting carbon neutrality efforts. This technology is a strong example of
the gains that can be achieved for the evolving global energy sector, by delivering
emission reductions through intelligent, non-heavy intervention. This approach
ultimately removes the requirement for large scale workovers, or in severe
cases, plugging and abandonment of the well at a time when economical and
sustainable recovery is imperative.
While the energy transition continues at pace, decarbonizing
oil and gas operations to meet ESG responsibilities are vital as we accelerate
towards a net zero future. Adopting technology which can extend the life of
existing fields while actively addressing global climate objectives can help enable
operators to realize greater environmental and financial rewards. WO
SCOTT BENZIE joined Coretrax as chief technology officer in 2019
following its integration with Mohawk Energy, which he founded in 2004. He
holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from
Heriot-Watt University, is a chartered engineer and holds EUR ING status. Scott
has held several design engineer roles at major energy services companies
throughout his career. Innovating ground-breaking tubular expansion
technologies for drilling, completion and production operations, Scott has
extensive R&D experience.