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Life extension of wellheads and X-mas trees

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Lars Tore Haug Lars Tore Haug
Principal engineer

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Challenge

A large production potential of the Norwegian Continental Shelf is dependent on the use of existing infrastructure such as platforms and pipelines. Experience has shown that oil and gas fields can produce for an average of 12 years longer than their originally designed life. Around 18 fields, both platforms- and subsea, need to go through a life extension process in the next 5 years. 

Presently the industry lacks a uniform and systematic approach for life extension of wellheads (WH) and X-mas trees (XT). These well barriers may not be inspected or tested satisfactorily, common practice is to ‘run to failure’ and as a consequence the knowledge of the condition is poor. There is a lack of systematic collection of empirical data from operational history and degradation rates, and so the basis for decision making is poor. The alternative maintenance strategies are to ‘do nothing’ or ‘replace all’.  

Solution

Develop an industry Recommended Practice for life extension that provides evidence for a safe application of WH and XT systems for operation beyond their original design life. The joint industry project (JIP) initiative is in collaboration with Ridge AS. 

Develop a use case for using machine learning to gather information about degradation rates through semantic search in empirical operations and inspection/maintenance data. 

Benefits

  • A more efficient and common approach in the industry for handling life extension processes of WH and XT systems. Improved confidence for continued safe operation of inaccessible barriers (on average 12 years extended production). 
  • Improved major accident prevention, by increasing the knowledge related to the well barriers, their degradation mechanisms and risks introduced by using digital solutions.

Value

  • Avoid production shut-down and expensive replacement. For example, well workover typically costs NOK 200-500 million.
  • Avoid unexpected failures with major accident potential and the associated financial and environmental costs.