The primary objective of the center SWIPA, Centre for Research-based Innovations Subsurface Well Integrity, Plugging and Abandonment, is to develop new innovative cost-saving solutions for P&A (Plugging & Abandonment) of wells. Successful innovations in this field will save Norway considerable amounts in the coming years.
More than 3000 wells on the Norwegian continental shelf must be plugged when petroleum production is completed. The cost of this can amount to up to NOK 800 billion. The tax rules on the continental shelf imply that most of the expenditure, 78 %, is accrued to the Norwegian state. One of SFI SWIPA's goals is to halve the well plugging costs.
The methodology for reaching the ambitious goals is to increase the scientific understanding of the subsurface. This particularly relates to the behaviour and performance of well barrier materials for preventing leakages from the subsurface. This is needed in order to open for revised standards and regulations, new operations and well barrier materials. Recently, there is established a collaboration the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway (PSA) for safeguarding that regulations can be developed as based on new know-how and technology. Together with PSA a dialogue will be established with national authorities in other countries where plugging of wells could result in considerable costs the coming years. Examples here are USA, Brazil, Australia, Great Britain and other North Sea countries.
For the realization of innovations and results from SWIPA, the involvement of vendors and service companies is of key importance. Accordingly SWIPA has established partnership with 25 industry companies in this category, and in addition 3 operating companies are partners. The strong interaction within the Centre will generate spin-off projects and technology transfer possibilities for several industries where well integrity, the well`s durability and sealing capability, is important. The results can also be used for conversion of petroleum wells to CO2- and hydrogen storage, well integrity for geothermal wells and landfill nuclear waste. The market for new innovations for well completion and -plugging is therefore considerable also outside the oil- and gas sector. Innovations and new technology within this discipline therefore represent a unique possibility for Norwegian industry globally.
The center SWIPA will elevate the competence on well integrity by engaging a total of 9 doctorates, 4 post-doctorates and 25 master's degrees that will bring industry new expertise. The international academic collaboration includes 12 well-recognized universities world-wide.
The subsurface well integrity is a key for utilization and abandonment of subsurface petroleum resources and reservoirs, utilization of deep geothermal energy, subsurface hydrogen storage and safe disposal of CO2 and nuclear waste.
In particular for the Norwegian Continental Shelf, there is a considerable number of wells subject to P&A (plugging and abandonment) with a considerable potential for future cost reductions.
The primary objective for the centre is to obtain a scientific understanding of permanent well barriers and allocate for improved well barrier design methodologies.
Secondary objectives of SWIPA are to:
• Develop experimentally verified solutions which lead to new innovative operations and qualification of new barrier materials.
• Develop a scientific-based new approach for more cost-efficient industry standards and regulations for P&A of wells.
• Perform case studies and technology audits relevant to demonstrate the potential of new well barrier solutions, and initiate spin-off projects.
• Educate a considerable number of experts and candidates in well barrier technologies
• Disseminate and communicate project results with safety authorities and in relevant fora,
The critical R&D challenges is associate with the establish realistic process conditions for the well barriers and at the same time be able to characterize the well barrier performance at several scales. This is needed in order to have an acceptable extrapolation capability for the design procedures and models.
Potential for use of the project findings is associated with;
• Facilitate rapid deployment of well barrier establishment and P&A technologies
• Implement new P&A- solutions for increase value creation in the Norwegian O&G industry
• Create new solutions and products for well integrity issues for CO2 and hydrogen storage, reconversion of petroleum wells and nuclear waste storage.