Long, cold winter emphasizes need for energy transition plan

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Long, cold winter emphasizes need for energy transition plan

Energy prices skyrocket going into winter as the U.S. energy industry is experiencing another market swing. While there is no clear-cut plan moving forward, there are things that can be done in the near-term. 

Once again, the demand for energy is exceeding supply resulting in increased energy prices in the U.S. Demand for energy is up due to several reasons including disruptions in the supply chain, an economy emerging from 18 months of Covid, weather extremes and plan old poor planning. But the main cause may be the decreased investing in oil and gas companies resulting in a supply shortage.  

Whenever there is an increase in energy demand, the question ultimately arises on renewables verses oil and gas. According to this recent article from Fareed Zakaria, in the Washington Post, there is no current overall plan for a transition to a renewables-based energy supply. The result is a confusing U.S. energy policy where we are now asking OPEC to increase production when we have some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and gas! 

While more domestic drilling will help with supply, we can also look at reducing emissions in the short-term. For example, convert the 5% of older fossil-fuel plants responsible for 73% of emissions. And decrease the 70% of methane leakage from O&G wells that can be stopped by using existing technology.  

Renegade is expertly positioned to help stop the methane leakage problem. These flow paths to the surface typically occur in older and abandoned wells and compromise wellbore integrity. This has long plagued oil and gas wells, especially in abandoned wells where methane leaks are common and present an environmental risk. This includes the thousands of ‘orphan’ wells seeping methane that will need to be treated in the future before they are plugged and abandoned. 

Local Expander™ technology from Renegade can safely and effectively seal the annulus without damaging the casing and stop methane from escaping to the surface. The key to this innovation is a set of expanding fingers that open outward once the tool is actuated downhole. This unique technology expands the casing into the cement, densifying the cement and blocking the path of any unwanted gas flow.   

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Renegade Wireline Services is the largest independent provider of cased-hole electric wireline services  and is recognized as the premier cased-hole completions service provider in the North American oil and gas industry. Renegade offers professional, experienced personnel with a cased-hole and radioactive tagging focus working in an efficient and safe manner to produce operational excellence and customer satisfaction. 

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URTeC Manuscript and Technical Presentation Featuring the Local Expander by Charles Green

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Renegade Participated in the 2021 URTeC Conference 

Presents new technology to close micro-annular flow, stopping gas from escaping to the surface

In July 2021, Renegade Services participated in the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. URTeC, sponsored by SPE, AAPG and SEG, welcomed over 4800 attendees, with over 70% in attendance.   

The presentation, titled, New Technology Closes Micro-Annular Flow Paths in the Wellbore, Stopping Downhole Gas from Escaping to the Surface was authored by Charles Green, Randy Evans, Brenson Fry and Scott Wruck, all of Renegade Services. The paper was presented by Green. 

The paper describes new technology that seals micro-annulus formed in the cement/casing bond of the wellbore. These anomalies create potential flow paths to the surface that can compromise wellbore integrity. This has long plagued oil and gas wells, especially in abandoned wells where methane leaks are common and present an environmental risk.  This includes the thousands of ‘orphan’ wells seeping methane that will need to be treated in the future before they are plugged and abandoned. 

The key to this innovation is a set of expanding arms that open outward once the tool is actuated downhole. This unique technology expands the casing into the cement, densifying the cement and blocking the path of any unwanted gas flow.   

This type of expandable technology is also applicable to other areas of well services and interventions, particularly wellbores that need to be sealed in producing wells. Other areas that could see reduced non-productive time and cost/benefit upside are cementing and drilling intervention operations. 

Listen to Charles Green Present the Manuscript 

Audio auto-plays in presentation mode – open in PowerPoint App, not on browser 

Abstract

New Technology Closes Micro-Annular Flow Paths in the Wellbore, Stopping Downhole Gas from Escaping to the Surface

C. Green*1, R. Evans1, B. Fry1, W. S. Wruck1, 1. Renegade Services

Copyright 2021, Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) DOI 10.15530/urtec-2021-5520.

For decades, operators and service companies have attempted to minimize problems impacting aging oil and gas wells. Over time, micro-annulus can form in the cement/casing bond of the wellbore, creating potential flow paths to the surface and compromising wellbore integrity. This has long plagued oil and gas wells, especially in abandoned wells where methane leaks are common and present an environmental risk.

In 2020, the EPA published the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990-2018. The report states there are over 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S. Emissions of both CH4 and CO2 increased by 50% from 1990, as the total population of abandoned gas wells increased 79%. If not cemented and plugged property, these wells will continue to release methane gas into the atmosphere.

Numerous applications that attempt to mitigate these issues have been tried with limited success. These include perforate and squeeze cementing, downhole packers, section milling and recementing—all of which are either costly, time-intensive or require a workover rig.

New technology recently confirmed by successful field tests offer promising alternatives. This involves a retractable, expandable mechanical device that induces plastic deformation and elongation of the inner diameter of the casing string. The result is the outer diameter of the casing expanded into the micro-annuli. The associated volume reduction in the annulus closes micro-annuli defects in the cement and results in an overall densification of the cement. This alternative offers rigless remediation of annular gas/fluid migration.

In 2020, Renegade Services utilized this new technology on four wells in the Northeast U.S. for four separate operators (three in Pennsylvania, one in Ohio). All wells exhibited annular gas flow determined by either measured annular flow or pressure. This flow prevented the operator from starting plug and abandon (P&A) operations on the wells. Upon completion of running this new technology, all four wells showed zero gas discharge (on three wells the stoppage was almost immediate; the fourth well showed zero discharge after two weeks). With these results, the state granted approval for the operator to begin P&A operations. This paper will provide detailed analysis of these four wells and show how this new technology can help safely and efficiently prepare older wells for abandonment.

As the unconventional plays of the ‘00s start to mature, wells may begin to exhibit annular gas flow. With this new technology, the associated volume reduction in the annulus closes micro-annuli defects in the cement and results in an overall densification of the cement. This new technology alternative stops seepage and annular flow behind the casing, results in permanent well repair and does not affect casing integrity or burst and collapse pressure ratings.

This type of expandable technology is also applicable to other areas of well services and interventions, particularly wellbores that need to be sealed in producing wells. Other areas that could see reduced non-productive time and cost/benefit upside are cementing and drilling intervention operations as well as the thousands of ‘orphan’ wells seeping methane that will need to be treated in the future before they are plugged and abandoned.

 

This paper was prepared for presentation at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 26-28 July 2021.

The URTeC Technical Program Committee accepted this presentation on the basis of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). The contents of this paper have not been reviewed by URTeC and URTeC does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information herein. All information is the responsibility of, and, is subject to corrections by the author(s). Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this paper does so at their own risk. The information herein does not necessarily reflect any position of URTeC. Any reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper by anyone other than the author without the written consent of URTeC is prohibited.

 

Download the full manuscript

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Case Study: Plug and Abandonment Proceeds After Expansions

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Case Study:

Pennsylvania DEP grantS permission for operator to P&A well After Expansion Service 

Local Expander Data assists in Plug and Abandonment approval
» Decrease in both pressure and gas rate to zero show the effectiveness of Local Expander technology and allowed the operator to P&A the well.

 

CONDITION:

This Pennsylvania well was scheduled for plug and abandonment, however, gas flow in the annulus prevented the operator from starting the process. All gas migration and pressure had to be eliminated before the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (DEP) would let P&A operations commence. Previous attempts at stopping the gas flow with traditional squeeze cement jobs proved unsuccessful. 

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION:

The operator contacted Renegade Services. After reviewing well problems, Renegade recommended its Local Expander technology, which expands the casing into the cement and blocks the path of any unwanted gas flow.  

 

SOLUTION & RESULTS:

Utilizing Local Expander technology, Renegade created two sets of three expansions. The first set of expansions was performed at depths of 3369, 3370 and 3371 ft while the second set was at 2069, 2070 and 2071 ft, successfully sealing the annulus. The gas rate dropped from 1.5 mscf/day to zero flow after five days while the pressure rate decreased from 105 psi to zero psi after 14 days. Upon reviewing these successful results, the Pennsylvania DEP granted permission for the operator to P&A the well. 

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Case Study: Local Expander Resolves Backside Pressure in Pennsylvania

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Case Study:

Decrease in backside pressure allows operator to return seven wells to production

Renegade Local Expander Operator E Well 1 - 5

Candidate selection is a critical factor in obtaining effective and consistent Local Expander results. Factors such as expansion depth, the number of expansions and cement quality all will affect the success of the Local Expander service on individual wells. 

 

CONDITION:

This operator in Pennsylvania had an issue with backside pressure on several wells. The pressure was causing gas to flow up the annulus between the casing and cement. The gas flow exceeded limits set by the state for maximum gas flow. The operator had to stop production on the wells until the problem was addressed.  

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION:

Renegade Services was called in to evaluate the wells and recommended the Local Expander™ tool to shut off the gas flow. Local Expander unique technology expands the casing into the cement, densifying the cement and stopping upward gas flow. The wells were at two locations, with one pad containing five wells and the second pad containing two wells. Pre-job well pressure ranged from 130 psi to 680 psi on the seven wells.  

SOLUTION & RESULTS:

The Local Expander provided a successful remedy decreasing the unwanted gas flow. Renegade performed 12 expansions (four sets of three expansions) on each well. Upon reviewing the successful results, the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (DEP) granted permission for the operator to return the well to production. With the success of these wells, the operator engaged Renegade and the Local Expander on ten more wells.

Local Expander™

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0.16% Methane Leak Occurrence Rate of Collaborative US Production in 2019

As the US has grown oil and gas production to record levels, interdisciplinary parties have expressed concern with the current administration’s decision to reduce regulations governing methane processing on well-sites.

The Environmental Partnership1, a cohort of 65 oil & gas production companies, representing every basin in the US (and globe for that matter), with the simple mission of collectively monitoring and reducing air emissions, including methane and VOCs.

Their mission statement is:

To continuously improve the industry’s environmental performance by taking action, learning about best practices and technologies, and fostering collaboration in order to responsibly develop our nation’s essential natural gas and oil resources.

Even with the US dry gas production totals in 2018 exceeding 30,438 bcf annually, up from 27,291 bcf per day in 2017, it is impressive that the leak rate from surface equipment is 0.16% and decreasing with continued best practices efforts across 78,000 well locations 2, 3.

In those efforts, there is a strong emphasis on implementing latest leak detection technologies (including portable), replacing pneumatic bleeding devices that make little to no effort to process vent gas, and improving processes involving the manual transfer of liquids from wells. The Environmental Partnership and companies within it agree that they all can continue to drive the number of leaks down further with on-going participation.

The Environmental Partnership Emissions | Renegade Services

Figure 1. The Environmental Partnership Emissions Source Chart via EPA2.

In conclusion of the report, it is great to see the industry collective being as proactive as possible in this initiative. We would like to use this opportunity to go one step further and look at the complications involved with downhole leaking. Unwanted issues of gas getting to surface through micro-annuli behind casing and fractures in casing causing leaks can present unwanted processing concerns that take away from typical production operations.

Our Casing Expansion Tool (CET) is a new cost-effective solution that can have repeated services applied through the length of a wellbore without leaving any deployable tools downhole. The simple crimping of casing to close the annuli gap and strengthening casing has been found to eliminate surface casing vent flow and sustained casing pressure situations.

Adding a downhole dimension to The Environmental Partnership with efforts toward eliminating downhole venting in the most cost-effective way possible is a discussion we would love to have! We know this is a solution the industry has been demanding for some time now and we want to cement our legacy in gas containment and pioneering responsible industry practices.

DISCLAIMER: Renegade Services remains a neutral-party to all of other companies referenced in any blog post listed on our website. The opinions in any blog post do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or position of Renegade Services at any point beyond our current time of publishing.
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