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Well-Safe Solutions - a ground-breaking approach to the safe and cost-efficient decommissioning of wells

Well-Safe Solutions - a ground-breaking approach to the safe and cost-efficient decommissioning of wells


Well-Safe have been awarded two contracts for the Well-Safe Guardian, the first dedicated well-decommissioning semi-submersible in the world.

The Repsol Sinopec award, a 14 well programme, employs an innovative commercial contracting model giving flexibility around the scheduling of the work which allows Well-Safe to apply campaign efficiencies across scopes for multiple clients.  Improvements in the efficiency of scope can reduce the amount of time a vessel spends on site and helps to lower emissions. 

Well-Safe have worked collaboratively with their client to ensure this contract delivers not only the clients’ expectations, but also aligns with the OGA and OGUK Decommissioning strategies of driving cost efficiencies and cost certainty, sharing knowledge and delivering continuous improvement throughout the campaign, whilst employing innovative new technologies, new ways of working and challenging the norm.

“Collaboration is a phrase that has been bandied about the industry for years” states Jane Eddie, Bid Manager, “but collaboration is not as easy as it sounds. It takes open, honest conversations which can sometimes be difficult.  Working together to achieve a mutually beneficial conclusion takes time, but the hard work put in by both sides has definitely been worth the effort.”

A key component of this innovative contracting model was understanding the risk and apportioning it in the right areas. “This model required Well-Safe to complete a very detailed assessment of the required operations and understand the risks involved in each well plus decide who is best placed to carry that risk.

We were very careful not to just increase the price to transfer risk but focus on the risks Well-Safe could control. There are some risks that contractors just can’t accept as they rightly belong to the organisation that benefitted from the value the well brought through its life. It’s about agreeing fair and reasonable risk allocation, I think we are unique in this area as we have a strong well engineering team and we own our assets so we can control the major levers” commented Matt Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer. 

The second award, a 9 well programme, will commence during a break in the initial contract to allow for the procurement and manufacturing of the subsea long lead equipment required to re-enter some of the wells.  The combination of the two awards will see the Well-Safe Guardian mobilise in Q4 2021 with continuous operations through Q3 2023.   Well-Safe aim to expand on this initial programme and are already in discussions with potential clients looking to benefit from joining an ongoing campaign.

These awards validate Well-Safe’s strategy to deliver a multi-operator, multi-well campaign and schedule the work to provide optimal efficiencies. The benefits of schedule flexibility flow down the entire supply chain and ensure continuity of personnel, equipment and the sharing of lessons learned. 

From humble beginnings in 2017, the initial group at Well-Safe have been joined by an ever-growing team bringing the current numbers to 130, expected to increase to 209 prior to mobilisation of the Well-Safe Guardian with further growth expected as they move towards deployment of the Well-Safe Protector.

These contract awards will see Well-Safe securing employment for around 120 personnel in both onshore and offshore positions. Anita Martin, HR Manager commented “This year has seen significant growth to the business, and we know this is set to continue which is why we have worked hard to secure and retain the best people, by creating a work environment that people enjoy and where they can thrive. Planning ahead for our future growth has also seen us invest significantly in increasing our youth employment which is one of our Diversity and Inclusion deliverables. We are also excited that the contract awards have allowed us to employ our first two female crew members on the Well-Safe Guardian.” 

The Repsol Sinopec contract will see the deployment of both the Dive and SMART systems (“Subsea Modular Abandonment Riser Technology”). The dive system ensures well access is established on older hydraulic and manual tree systems, which predate ROV technology. Having the Dive System available as an integrated asset onboard the Well-Safe Guardian is a game-changer for well decommissioning. It eliminates dependencies on having dual vessel mobilisations, the associated safety and environmental impact and eliminates standby time for the rig – accelerating project delivery, increasing vessel utilisation and decreasing project costs. This will be the first time a saturation dive system has been available on a rig for in excess of 20 years. The asset has recently been granted the operational Safety Case by the HSE which was the latest major milestone in a 3+ year process to bring this solution to the industry.  Close relationships with all stakeholders will continue through to operational start-up with the system offshore.

The SMART system is a cost-efficient, lightweight well access system optimised for operations on weak or fatigue damaged trees and wellheads. The SMART intervention riser system blends the availability and technical benefits of lightweight intervention systems with the operational speed benefits of deployment from a moored vessel – critical in reducing risk of failure of weak wellhead systems. The system can provide a mechanism to deploy wireline or coiled tubing. These technologies are what make the Well-Safe Guardian a one-of-a-kind decommissioning unit.

Traditionally, the reservoir decommissioning phase is either undertaken partially by multiple vessels, followed by a rig, or by mobilising a rig and associated support services from the outset. Deploying the 12-person saturation diving system and the SMART system from the Well-Safe Guardian enables a one vessel approach.  This limits the duration and number of divers in saturation, provides a fully integrated package of well control barriers and fluid circulation/injection facilities, eradicates risk of potential project delays, reduces project interface management and completely removes the need for multiple pre-work interventions via other vessel operations. A single integrated delivery solution gives continuity, flexibility, reduced multi-operation interfaces and technical options when entering subsea wells for the first time after many years. 

This combination of technologies, using an anchored semisubmersible over dynamically positioned vessels, to deliver a one-vessel based approach to well abandonment, will offer significant fuel and emissions reductions across the whole project, benefiting the goal of reducing the carbon footprint between 30-35% of carbon emissions compared to the current approaches.

Well-Safe are not only optimising their assets but are also bringing a different approach to their supply chain philosophy. Following an extensive engagement exercise with the supply chain Well-Safe have appointed Schlumberger as their partner of choice for core well services. “We conducted a dynamic tender exercise where we invited contractors to present to us how they could help us achieve our objectives” commented Anne-Marie Darwin, Contracts Manager. “We understood the supply chain and who could deliver the services, but our goal was to deliver a contract that would guarantee continuity of personnel, provide cost certainty to our clients with outcome-based pricing, and develop a long-term relationship with a strategic partner who has an innovative solutions-based approach.” 

Well-Safe also own the Well-Safe Protector, a bespoke decommissioning Jack-Up with an enviable operational history in the North Sea. The Well-Safe Protector is perfectly positioned to execute platform and subsea well decommissioning up to a water depth of 395ft. The aft platform servicing crane capability makes simultaneous platform decommissioning operations standard and as well as addressing the well decommissioning and preparation for platform removal. The Well-Safe Protector has a built-in set of facilities for interfacing with platforms which leaves interfacing a Well-Safe responsibility, substantially reducing the time to complete this task and get onto the wells.

Commenting on the awards, Phil Milton, CEO stated “These contract awards are a fantastic achievement for Well-Safe Solutions. Our team has worked closely with our clients to develop contracting delivery and commercial models that enable projects to be achieved in a manner that aligns with our customers’ requirements. Our ability to customise our offering to suit each customer from rig only, to rig and services, right through to a completely integrated solution helps us to work with our customers to deliver multi operator, multi well campaigns that align with the OGA’s decommissioning strategy and Well-Safe’s P&A Club approach. A key enabler is a willingness by our customer to be flexible on schedule control. This enables us to optimise our rig schedules and deliver the efficiencies, retain learnings and deliver long term campaigns. I am confident that we will continue to add to these contracts as more customers progress their well decommissioning plans and see the benefit associated with joining an ongoing campaign, not to mention the significant cost and environmental benefits associated with using the Well-Safe Guardian on diver intensive wells that have suffered fatigue over their lifecycle.”

Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE

Published: 05-10-2021

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