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Introduction to Well Integrity Management
Well integrity covers design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and abandonment and is generally the responsibility of the operating company to manage and control. Engineering is responsible for establishing well integrity, whilst operations are responsible for the safeguarding of well integrity.
For a given well which is in operation, Well Integrity Management is ensured through the application of technical, operational, and organizational solutions to reduce the risk of uncontrolled release of formation fluids throughout the lifecycle of a well. Integrity of wells is achieved when, under specified operating conditions, the risk of well barrier failure is tolerable and has been reduced as low as reasonably practicable. Well integrity is typically defined when liquid containment is achieved (produced or injected) within a minimum of two independent qualified well barrier envelopes.
Whereas, a leaking well is a scenario when well barriers isolation along the wellbore is compromised due to integrity failure of one or more well barrier elements. Such loss of integrity can lead to direct emissions to the environment through one or more leaking annuli and/or subsurface migration of fluids (gas and/or liquid) to groundwater, surface waters, or the atmosphere or sea. Failed well barrier elements are related to well integrity and are critical to safety, but also influences production.
Failure in well barrier element functions caused by degradation needs immediate attention from the well operations staff. During any well activity, two independent tested well barriers are required.
Planned well integrity corrective measures for each shortfall in principles & requirements for well operations and maintenance activities collectively aim to safeguard the performance and integrity of all well barrier elements by urging appropriate intervention. This requires an understanding of the well barrier elements deterioration mechanisms to which the well element is susceptible. Allocating the shortfall of well barrier performance can help establish correct maintenance, testing, and application of corrective actions for well activities.
The Importance of Well Integrity
A hydrocarbon release or well blowout may have severe consequences for personnel and assets caused by the release of toxic substances (e.g. sour gases), instability of well-site, or ignition resulting in fire and explosion.
Well fluid leaks and blowouts can be catastrophic and lead to loss of life, well loss, and severe environmental impacts. Failure causes production operations blowouts to act after well equipment failures. Typically, production has continued with a well barrier element failure, or the well component has been left in failed condition (or fail when activated).
Research studies indicate that a large number of operational wells have integrity problems. The severity of well failure depends on the location, the type of fluids and the age of the wells. Globally it is estimated that one third of the Oil and Gas wells are affected by different fluid containment issues within well barrier envelopes.
Wells are designed to have at least two independent barriers. If one of them fails, the safety is reduced and this can lead to an undesirable situation such as a hydrocarbon release or well blow-out. The responsible operator is to always monitor well’s condition and apply corrective measure if a further fault is indicated.
AIE Well Integrity Services
To address hydrocarbon release or well blowout concerns, Asset Integrity Engineering (AIE) advices its clients to adopt a systematic and continuous approach to Well Integrity Management.
AIE specializes in providing a complete range of well integrity services covering design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and abandonment well lifecycle phases. We employ the most experienced and specialized Well Integrity Specialists in the industry which offer a comprehensive service range.
Our integrity team develops detailed Well Integrity Management Strategies, Well Integrity Assessment registers, generate associated work routines, performance standards and define well barrier/elements (WBEs) to ensure that the well engineering, operations, and integrity management systems are linked and cover the key essential requirements.
To encourage well operations staff to tackle well barrier element failure challenges, AIE as integrity service provider establishes well integrity assessment methodologies and assessment registers to help operating companies’ personnel control well barrier system performance. Actions are therefore maintained by the “action owner” and are available for all parties to continuously monitor towards successful completion of the well operation.