The Challenge of Ensuring Well Integrity

Oil & Gas IQ

Well integrity has been pushed firmly into the spotlight following the blowout of BP's Macondo well, which led to the creation of the Subsea Well Control and Containment Task Force.

The task force, which is comprised of more than 30 members from 20 organisations, has made 29 recommendations to the United States government about how to improve subsea well safety and contain hydrocarbons in the event of a spill.

However, having a strong risk management strategy dramatically decreases the chances of integrity being breached in the first place.


According to Salim Taoutaou, business development manager for the Middle East & Asia at Schlumberger, writing for, this should be approached in three simple stages; the original design, monitoring throughout the life of the well and managing and containing any integrity issues if and when they arise.

Significant savings can already by made through existing interventions, according to Taoutaou, who said research shows 1 percent of operating costs can be saved through the effective application of existing corrosion management technology.

Monitoring and Management

The monitoring and management of well integrity can prove to be both a costly and time consuming process.

"Maintaining well integrity throughout the life cycle is a never-ending challenge for operators. The need to secure hydrocarbons in more difficult locations, the increasing complexity of wells, and the rising number of ageing wells are all factors adding to that challenge," Thorleif Egeli, chief executive officer of Seawell, explained upon the launch of the company's Point diagnostic system.

Seawell said the technology offers the "most effective system" for detecting flaws in well integrity, thereby allowing issues to be located and remedied quickly. This in turn is said to reduce operating costs and extend the production life of the well.

To do this, Point uses four diagnostics applications - LeakPoint, FlowPoint, SandPoint and EntryPoint - combined with ultrasound technology. The ultrasound sensor is combined with advanced digital signal processing and proprietary detection firmware, which allows for accurate and high resolution data.

The company has completed more that 400 surveys in 23 countries so far and said the Point system will allow for "reliable, unambiguous data that enables remediation decisions to be made with confidence and implemented with precision."

Downhole Video

Downhole video is another key technology within well integrity management, which allows for the detection of corrosion, drilling damage and scale build up.

A provider of such technology, Expro, recently announced the release of its HawkEye IV downhole video technology, which it hailed as a "step change" within the field.

The system is operated via a downlink, which makes for easier control from the surface, allowing for the switch from down view to side view, or the stopping and starting of a rotation at the push of a button. Users are also able to increase the capture rate from 1 fps to as fast as 30 fps and the images from which are then stored in the camera before being sent to the surface in a batch.

Expro said the turbo capture is a particularly useful tool for pinpointing the type of fluid and its entry location, or for use in horizontal wells to understand flow regimes.

Arthur White, Western United States division manager, said, "By making the operation of the tools more efficient and adding full-motion capture capability, Expro is closing the gap between our e-line and fibre-optic systems and providing more capabilities to our customers."

The company recently signed a number of deals for the use of its downhole technology in the Middle East and North Africa region. It said an increase in operational activity in Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt has helped the performance of its well testing and monitoring equipment in the region.