Temporarily plug and abandon an offshore well
Gulf of Mexico
Hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico adds a layer of complexity and planning. In addition to daily drilling and personnel operations, rig operators must also prepare the logistics of performing an emergency evacuation. Storm evacuation planning includes personnel lodging, helicopter contracts, equipment preparation and evacuation time estimates.
While evacuating personnel is the priority, the risk of equipment damage is also a significant concern. Leaving drillpipe in the derrick during a storm can cause damage to the structure and other rig equipment.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, oil and gas refineries in the paths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita accounted for approximately 29% of U.S. refining capacity. These refineries were shut down in the wake of the hurricanes, which also destroyed 115 platforms and damaged 52 other rigs and 535 pipeline segments in the Gulf of Mexico alone. The long-term impact of these storms was devastating as well. Nine months after the storms passed, 22% of federal oil production and 13% of gas production remained shut in, resulting in the loss of 150 million barrels of oil and 730 billion cubic feet of gas from domestic supplies.
Less than one month after Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage, Hurricane Rita entered the Gulf of Mexico, forcing another shut down of drilling operations and evacuation of rigs and platforms. Operators had to act quickly to secure wells and equipment. For one such operator, Halliburton recommended a temporary abandonment system to seal the well without tripping the workstring.
Halliburton proposed running an RTTS packer with an SSC I valve to seal the well being drilled. This combination, known as a storm packer, allows the workstring to remain in the hole while evacuating the well. This ability helps save precious time and costs during a storm evacuation because the downhole equipment is protected in the well, and the hazard of drillpipe sitting in the derrick is avoided.
Just eight days after Halliburton installed the temporary well abandonment system on the operator’s jackup rig, the rig was found beached in West Cameron, Louisiana. Without the temporary abandonment system, the workstring that was secured inside the well would have been left standing in the derrick and likely would have blown away with the rig.
of federal oil production shut-in
million barrels of oil loss
feet of drillpipe installed
years later, tools still in excellent condition
In September 2005, the RTTS packer and SSC I valve combination was installed at 492 feet with more than 7,000 feet of drillpipe hanging below it. The tools remained intact inside the well for more than nine years, despite the rig being blown off location and destroyed by Hurricane Rita. The system was successfully retrieved in February 2015 without any problems. Upon inspection, the system was observed to be in excellent condition.
The RTTS packer is a full-opening, hookwall packer used for testing, treating, and squeeze cementing operations.
When combined with the strength and durability of the industry-standard RTTS packer, SSC valves allow operators to perform workover operations as well as minimize disruptions caused by weather emergencies.
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