José Carrillo
General Manager

Breaking with Traditional Well Interventions

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 15:58

“The traditional way of increasing or maintaining production levels by drilling additional wells is not always sufficient,” José Carrillo Osorio, General Manager at Welltec Oilfield Services Mexico. The scarcity of easy access fields is forcing the oil industry to adopt different methods to meet production targets. Given this situation, Welltec is currently focusing on developing technologies to meet global demands in challenging conditions through e-line workover interventions. “When you have to deal with constant drilling and fast depletion, well interventions must be considered in order to increase oil production levels,” says José Carrillo Osorio. Since Welltec entered the Mexican market in 2008, PEMEX has been benefiting from its robotic and e-line intervention solutions. Although Mexico is an important market for the company, it represents a rather small part of its American operations, overshadowed by large oilfield activities taking place in the US and Canada. “This is mainly because Mexico is still in the process of integrating its oil and gas industry,” says Carrillo Osorio. For instance, Welltec uses disruptive technology, which goes against more traditional well intervention methods. These are now common practices in markets such as the US, Canada, and Brazil, and the company is playing an integral role in bringing them to the Mexican market.

PEMEX is shifting from an easy oil extraction paradigm to more challenging production. In Carrillo Osorio’s opinion, the company is doing a great job adapting to this new reality by stabilizing the production decline at Cantarell. He highlights BREAKING WITH TRADITIONAL WELL INTERVENTIONS that PEMEX’s technical team and operational capacity as factors that have helped the turbulent shift. However, he believes this is a hardly unique situation, given that most operators around the globe are facing similar challenges. In such a scenario, PEMEX will have to define the type of exploitation strategy each field requires. This is the window of opportunity that Welltec seeks to take advantage of, providing solutions that help enhance oil recovery. In Mexico, as Carrillo Osorio explains, the nature of wells and fields is diverse. For example, wells in the northern region extract hydrocarbons from different geological formations to those in Campeche, while the very nature of the hydrocarbons varies from well to well. Carrillo Osorio mentions the northern region of Chicontepec as an example of an area where PEMEX can find itself facing a technological gap. The extraction process here depends on the types of formations that can be found in the area and partly on the types of well completions that have been executed. The company works on a case-by-case basis, advising PEMEX on how to adapt Welltec’s e-line workover interventions to each scenario.

Welltec’s conveyance services are the result of a long-term plan that finds support at the company’s technological vanguard. “We have the largest and broadest service portfolio, as well as the most experienced operation and technical support team. Plus, most of our solutions are tailor-made according to our clients’ concerns,” says Carrillo Osorio. In this vein, well intervention is the area where the company has been most active in Mexico. This includes cleanout, milling, fishing, and selective maintenance of subsurface safety valves. The latter conveniently suits PEMEX’s current emphasis on offshore safety, since subsurface safety valves, and other pressure control equipment, are the company’s primary defense against potential and catastrophic well failures. Well safety has provided a significant area of growth for Welltec as the company has been able to execute all of its well intervention services through e-lines without having to pump fluids into the wellbore. These operations are usually done by mobilizing equipment that can weigh between 100 and 200 tonnes. Welltec is able to perform them with little equipment and in less time while increasing safety conditions, and minimizing deferred production.

Carrillo Osorio compliments PEMEX’s efforts in exploration and drilling and acknowledges it is taking its first steps towards subsea production. He comments that PEMEX is adapting faster than when major operators like Petrobras and Statoil started deepwater production years ago. Nonetheless, PEMEX will certainly face a series of technological challenges and has to decide how to address interventions in deepwater wells. Welltec provides well intervention solutions without the use of subsea lubricators, a method known as Riserless Light Well Intervention (RLWI), which could provide a cost-effective argument for PEMEX. Subsea wells are difficult to access, but Welltec can perform an intervention on a subsea well using robots controlled from small vessels on the surface without having to install a drilling riser. This technology was developed in the North Sea, famed for its difficult weather conditions, and has been in use for over a decade. The recovery rate on subsea wells tends to be lower than for surface platforms due to well intervention and maintenance issues. RLWI overcomes this by enabling an increased recovery rate on subsea wells at a reduced time and cost. Additionally, hydrocarbons are not transported to the vessel, but flushed back into the well through the lubricator system. The positive safety aspects of this method are in line with PEMEX’s current goals. Similar to other Welltec approaches, it involves a cost effective method with less equipment and fewer operators. As put by Carrillo Osorio: “If we can help boost PEMEX’s recovery rates towards those enjoyed by operators in the North Sea, PEMEX and Mexico alike could benefit from a tremendous economic impact. This is what we are striving for.”