BJ Reduces Cost of Abandoning Wells in Gulf of Mexico

BJ Tubular Services says that its environmentally friendly hydraulic Rigless Intervention System has been performing successfully on behalf of a number of operators in the Gulf of Mexico. The multi-faceted system reduces the amount of time and expense associated with installing conductors by pre-installing them prior to the arrival of the drilling rig using the Rigless Intervention System to handle and drive them with BJ Tubular Services' Hydrohammers. On the conductor extraction side, the system speeds up the process of abandoning multiple wells on fixed platforms.

Modular Mini-Derrick Reduces Cost
The Rigless Intervention System operates like a modular mini-derrick. It can be broken down into sections that are then transported by road and on average-size supply vessels. The sections are small enough so that a platform crane can easily lift them from a boat and assemble the system on the platform. Once set up, it performs tasks similar to that of a drilling rig, capable of lifting, pulling, driving and running pipe. It can even have a power swivel installed that extends the capabilities for well intervention purposes. The greatest financial benefit of the Rigless Intervention System is that it can be rented for a fraction of the cost of an average rig. Another advantage is that it is much lighter than a conventional workover rig.

In the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) alone, there are approximately 4,000 platforms that must eventually be abandoned and removed, in accordance with Minerals Management Service requirements. In view of this, BJ Tubular Services recognised a gap in the market for a more efficient means of carrying out this necessary process. Traditionally, service companies have relied upon casing jacks to remove the conductors when abandoning a well. However, given that casing jacks can only pull 10-foot sections of conductor, and sea growth had to be stripped from the conductor to prevent slippage while the casing jacks gripped them, it was a costly and time-consuming method.

Rigless Intervention System Speeds Up Dismantling Process
The Rigless Intervention System, which features a mast that measures 76 feet, has a split block that is capable of lifting 250 tons. It can handle pipe measuring up to 36" in diameter, with all inner strings cemented inside the conductor. The Rigless Intervention System can remove 50-foot conductor sections at a time, which speeds the dismantling process.

By pinning the conductor section and lifting it with slings, less time is required to carry out the extraction process by enabling 50-foot sections to be cut and laid out.

Well Abandonment: How it Works
During a well abandonment operation, BJ Tubular Services mounts the Rigless Intervention System on beams set on the platform. After the well has been plugged, a multi-string internal cutter is run to make the first cut, which must be at least 15 feet below the mudline. Then, in conjunction with the pinning process, a guillotine saw is used to cut the 50- foot sections, which are then laid out on the deck for transport and disposal.

Field-proven Rigless Intervention System Saves Time and Money in GOM
During the past year, BJ Tubular Services has used the Rigless Intervention System to successfully abandon a number of wells for operators in the Gulf of Mexico. Of particular note is the recent well abandonment operation carried out by BJ Tubular Services for Chevron on the Garden Banks 191 platform. BJ Tubular Services extracted 10 conductors without using a rig.

An innovative swivel system was developed by BJ to overcome problems associated with pulling through undersize bell guides. BJ used the bowl and slips to hold the pipe before installing the pins. The Rigless Intervention System was then used to pick up the 50-foot joints. The estimated timesaving achieved with the system was in excess of 1.25 days per well, resulting in dramatically reduced costs per well when compared with conventional jacking systems.

In recent months, BJ Tubular Services also used the Rigless Intervention System to extract 15 conductors for a major operator in the GOM in the southern Marsh Island area: five on Platform A and 10 on Platform B.

"We are very excited about the benefits realised recently by our clients in the GOM, as a direct result of using the Rigless Intervention System," said Kenny Watt, division manager of BJ Tubular Services. "Its successful performance in the field demonstrates the system's ability to reduce the amount of time required to abandon a well in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. For operators faced with the prospect of abandoning thousands of wells around the world during the next 20 years, the long-term savings of time and money is truly significant," he added.

Beyond the Gulf of Mexico
For the first time, BJ Tubular Services recently mobilized the Rigless Intervention System. The system was used to pre-install a number of conductors offshore Cote d'Ivoire before the drilling rig was situated on the platform, resulting in significant savings for the operator.

Watt is confident that with the number of multi-well platforms scheduled for abandonment in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and West Africa, BJ Tubular Services will soon be carrying out abandonment operations well beyond the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rigless Intervention System became a central feature of BJ Tubular Services's hammer services portfolio in 2003. BJ Tubular Services has a history of 30 years in the hammer services business. It has delivered hundreds of single slot hammer conductor and caisson-driving operations worldwide, in Europe, Latin America, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Trinidad, China, the Middle East, West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico.

With the 2003 acquisition of hydraulic and diesel hammer services specialist Petro-Drive of Lafayette, Louisiana, BJ Tubular Services expanded its range to include drive pipe whipstocks, high penetration drive shoes, guardian and batter pile installations and the Rigless Intervention System.