Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that “The energy transition is getting a dose of reality” as the shift away from oil and gas continues to look increasingly more expensive and farther away. Author Phred Dvorak noted:
“Offshore wind projects are being scrapped, and renewable-energy companies’ share prices are tanking. In the U.S., automakers are reining in electric-vehicle plans as demand falters. Meanwhile, the oil-and-gas industry is embarking on a round of megadeals enabled by soaring profits and is pushing more forcefully the idea that fossil fuels will be around for a long time yet.”
In this climate of conventional energy company mega-mergers and acquisitions in both the U.S and Canada creating renewed interest in production, conventional energy tech advancements are the key to managing a reliable energy supply with lower emissions, efficient budgets and improved safety.
New tech advancements by an Alberta company have recently received great recognition from an energy industry technical association. On November 9.2023, Wireline Abandonment and Completion Corp (WACORP) was awarded the 2023 ICoTA Canada “Innovation of the Year” Award from the Intervention & Coiled Tubing Association’s Canadian Chapter for WACORP’s KWAT rigless abandonment technology. ICoTA is a global association with chapters in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.
WACORP– the Wireline Abandonment and Completion Corp was founded in 2016 to improve and streamline the abandonment of oil and gas wells in Alberta in response to significant demand for the zonal abandonment of suspended wells. However, wireline technology has significant applications for revival of older producing wells and emissions reductions that make it ripe for applications needed by acquiring companies.
As companies make significant acquisitions, they also acquire new liabilities. Wireline technology has direct applications for abandonments. After recently using WACORP’s wireline technology several times in Canada, Dustin Pashko, who is now Lead Wells Supervisor at Shell Australia commented at the time of implementation:
“We recently utilized KWAT to set and pressure test an abandonment plug above the lower set of perforations in a two-zone well in Northeast BC. Being able to do this on wireline saved us over $10k/30% compared to doing this the conventional way. Considering the number of legacy wells that we need to abandon in the near future with dual completions and the ability to detect minor casing leaks, integrating this tool into our abandonment practices is going to result in significant cost and time savings.”
As well as for abandonments, wireline technology has direct applications for workovers and the remediation of wells with high surface casing vent flow. It is a more efficient method, requiring shorter timelines, with a lower number of crew, and fewer trucks and equipment. The result is significantly lower emissions and lower costs- less time spent on the well, lower budgets, less equipment and manpower and improved safety due to the nature of WACORP’s technology.
As an example of the time and cost reductions, Nick Kozak, Completions Engineer Crew Energy stated “Crew Energy utilized the KWAT tool during our abandonment operations. The objective to abandon the completed interval was completed 0.5 days earlier and saved approximately $8000 in service rig, supervision, rentals and other auxiliary costs.”
In traditional abandonment and workover practices, pressure is applied at the surface, which has inherent safety risks, whereas wireline employs pressure being applied downhole and uses fewer employees on location to perform the pressure test. In addition, the equipment is on site for fewer hours creating lower safety risk.
Using wireline can effectively reduce emissions when work on a surface casing vent flow saving valuable hours that would normally be spent tripping pipe to set and test cement retainers. But it also has a new application for workovers. Over the past five years interest in bypassed pay zones has picked up for companies after years of drilling horizontal wells. Horizontals have high netback but they’re very expensive and they produce for a shorter period of time. There is a new realization that producing some of the bypassed pay zones can increase the profitability of existing wells. Bottom zones can be quickly abandoned and newly completed upper zones can be produced.
“Horizontal wells are massive when they produce, but they have a short lifespan,” Peter Knight, WACORP president says. “Older wells don’t produce as much in a vertical application because they just don’t have as much pay zone, However, they last for a long time and it’s consistent revenue. It’s really expensive to drill and complete a brand-new well. Horizontal wells have a very high netback but for a shorter period of time. Most operators have a substantial inventory of vertical wells, and they know that they have potential zones that will have a significant amount of production life left in them including Lithium and Hydrogen applications. So, it makes financial sense to move up the hole and try to produce that instead of just abandoning the wellbore. Companies that have recently acquired another company are looking at existing wells, and how to maximize production.”
The company has expertise working in multiple areas of operations from NEBC to the US border in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Knight says accessing bypassed pay zones to rejuvenate mature fields with the technology has applications for offshore, deep-water wells as well as onshore and WACORP is scaling up their technology – working on applications to include the larger casing sizes that are found offshore.
“We’ve hit all the technical milestones.” Knight says. “This year, we’ve deployed deeper than 3000 meters vertical, hotter than 110 degrees Celsius, and experienced massive hydrostatic pressures against the tools over 69 MPa. Our challenge now is to scale this technology to meet the increasing needs of the market. We are the only technology in the world currently that can do this. Our collaboration agreement with Versa-Line Services, puts the right people and an equipment in place to do just that. For this technology to save time on an offshore platform, the incremental costs and reductions would be pretty massive. We believe that we can take it offshore and provide all these benefits to those operators.”
Maureen McCall is an energy professional who writes on issues affecting the energy industry