Internationally recognised well integrity guidelines embrace Hydrawell’s PWC® technologies and verification process

By Arne G. Larsen - April 13, 2021

Norway’s NORSOK D-010 is the well integrity standard that has long been respected as an international benchmark for the industry. The document, revised every five years, has undergone its latest round of changes.

Here, Arne Larsen, takes us through the 2021 updates and how the latest revision affects HydraWell’s abandonment activities as well as the potential impacts on the wider energy sector.

NORSOK D-010 covers the whole lifecycle of a well and is designed to be easily understood. Over the past 28 years, this world-leading well integrity standard continues to modify and expand in response to industry demand and advances in technology in well integrity operations.

This year’s Rev 5 has so far been well received by regulators and operators around the world, undoubtedly aided by the fact those in charge of overseeing the reviews do so with extensive consultation with key players within the industry.

As the document lands on desks this month, we thought we would focus on some of the key changes and what they mean for HydraWell and the industry as a whole.

HydraWell’s revolutionary technology – Perforation, Wash & Cement (PWC®)

As global well integrity specialists, we at HydraWell are inherently re-thinking existing Well Integrity Operations and pushing boundaries to discover new ways of working. Our business is built on a desire to transform well operations globally by focusing on inventing ingenious and environmentally aware technologies for downhole solutions.

Our passion for technological advancement has led to a strong track record in Plug & Abandonment (P&A) operations, underpinned by a well sustainability strategy with a deeper sense of responsibility.

Key to putting words into action and shaking up the market in recent times has been the design, development and testing of our patented Perforation, Wash & Cement (PWC®) portfolio for wellbore specialist applications. Our customers around the world have been familiar with the technology and its benefits for some time with more than 400 bespoke PWC® plugs being installed in over 20 countries so far, with a success rate of 98%.

So how do the latest NORSOK D-010 changes affect our P&A operations?

One of the most significant changes in NORSOK D-010 Rev 5 is a new chapter focused on defining and endorsing the PWC® process as a beneficial and sustainable method of P&A.

This is testament to the fact that more and more operators are seeing first-hand the benefits of PWC® technology as a safe, efficient, reliable and cost-effective method of permanent well abandonment.

And THE question we are always asked – ‘How can you verify the quality of the plug?’

This is by far the most common asked question. So, let’s talk about a checklist…

The ultimate P&A ‘to do’ list… also known in NORSOK D-010 Rev 5 as the ‘Barrier Element Acceptance Criteria List’.

NORSOK D-010 has been updated to approve this ‘check list’ on how the plugs we install are verified. Verification is extremely important as it is also an issue the regulators inquire about wherever we are operating in the world; whether we are in Malaysia, Denmark or Norway, industry regulators need to have confidence in the procedures carried out by the operators - which is where we come in.

The methodology for PWC® Plug Verification is typically broken down into 4 steps:

  1. Install PWC® Plug
  2. Test Plug (weight/pressure)
  3. A1) Drill out and log
    A2) Install new internal cement plug
    B) PWC® Qualification Matrix

The tried and tested methods of verification to ensure there are no leaks in the annulus include weight testing and pressure testing which can be time consuming and costly.

Point number 3B is what is particularly significant for HydraWell and the industry as a whole - what we have developed at HydraWell is the PWC® Qualification Matrix – a set of parameters we define before any PWC® operation is carried out. The course of action is set out before the job begins with procedures being checked off at every stage. By comparing notes after the procedure is complete – the operator can examine the data to ensure their checklists are synchronised – simple but highly effective.

So, in essence, the Qualification Matrix document is proof that the plug was installed according to the standards and that the plan was followed in line with the correct set of procedures – therefore the need to drill it out and log is negated.

The new NORSOK D-010 Rev 5 defines the PWC® Qualification Matrix as an acceptable alternative to drill out and log. For the PWC® verification process to be defined as a sufficient method for barrier acceptance criteria in an industry recognised standard is extremely valuable to the future of our work at HydraWell and for the wider energy sector.

This really is a win-win situation for the regulators and operators alike; it ensures a widely accepted standardised method of plug verification.

From permanent P&A and slot recovery to restoring annular integrity and casing show repair, our nimble PWC® method enables highly efficient installation of rock-to-rock barriers.

PWC® technology has the potential to slash the operational sequence by more than six days when compared to the conventional section milling alternative. Based on reduced operating times of diesel-powered semi-submersible drilling units, that’s 720MT of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of 6 million kilometres of car travel or 180 people flying from Sydney to Amsterdam and return – for every well HydraWell’s technology helps to abandon.

Furthermore, PWC® can report almost seven years LTI free and it produces zero swarf handling issues and zero metal shavings sparking huge and positive environmental benefits due to the elimination of transportation needs, pollution risk and landfill capacity.

PWC® is just one of the many ways HydraWell is working hard to fulfil its vision of continuing to improve its solutions, operations and approach. At the heart of it all is the ultimate aim of achieving sector-wide accelerated positive change which will help to protect and improve the world we all live in.

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