CaMa GeoScience has been awarded research funding from The West Norway County Research Council to test the new plug material at the International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) and University of Stavanger (UiS).
The new material in non-toxic, can be transported in dry powder form, and be mixed and pumped like concrete. The difference is that it will never go hard and brittle.
The West Norway County Research Council gave the application an overall score of 6, very good!
The project will test the new material's properties to prove that it can replace cement as permanent well plug, as well as replace the current lead material. Too qualify and document the material for full scale tests in a main project, this pre-project in needed for more extensive testing of the new material regarding expected physical contributions and industry requirements.
Today, cement is the preferred product for plug and abandonment of oil and gas wells. There are several good reasons for this, e.g. abundant supply of cement, a familiar well-functioning supply chain, cement is easy to pump, and it sets quite fast. However, there is concern for areas where the reservoir subsides. The cement can crack, and the well can start to leak. Such instances have proved very difficult to stop permanently. We know that the Ekofisk field has subsided at least 8 meters and continues subsiding.
Further, there are plans to pump substantial amounts of CO2 into underground formations. In principle, the seabed can rise, with the challenges this may cause. But a bigger concern is the requirement that cement used to plug wells up to 50 years old, must be able to seal, and sustain the CO2 pressure. Thus, with underground forces that potentially may crack the cement plugs, and for permanent plugging of abandoned wells, there is need for a product that can replace cement. For this operation, we propose an alternative plug and well slurry based on quick clay or sensitive clay, which largely in composed of non-swelling minerals with very low salt concentration and high water content.
Such a plug will have the same sealing capacity as cement, but never go so hard that it will crack of fracture.