Plexus Holdings PLC, the AIM quoted oil and gas engineering services business and owner of the proprietary POS-GRIP® friction-grip method of wellhead engineering, announces that it has received £260,000 funding from Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited (‘Maersk Oil UK’), a leading independent oil and gas company operating in the North Sea, towards the Company’s 20,000 psi High Pressure/ High Temperature (‘HP/HT’) Mudline Tieback wellhead system Joint Industry Project (‘JIP’) development programme.
Testing and manufacturing of the prototype is underway with assembly scheduled for the third quarter of this financial year, and final deployment and commercialisation is targeted for mid-2012.
The Tieback system design, which will utilise Plexus’ metal-to-metal ‘HG’® seals, will allow HP/HT exploration wells and pre-drilled production wells to be converted into either subsea or platform producing wells. These wells, which have an estimated cost of between £50 million and £300 million, are currently abandoned after drilling and to date there is no other technology in the market which can ‘save’ or ‘convert’ such wells. In addition, the HP/HT Mudline Tieback technology has the potential to shorten the development cycle of an oil and gas field by several years and in turn provide further substantial financial benefits, as it would allow the pre-drilling of production wells to commence before a production platform is put in place.
Plexus’ CEO Ben Van Bilderbeek said, “This funding is a very positive development for our HP/HT Mudline Tieback wellhead system JIP development programme, which we believe, once commercialised, has the potential to become one of the most far reaching and financially beneficial developments in the economics of HP/HT jack-up oil and gas drilling programmes seen in many years.”
Background to Tieback
In 2009 Plexus initiated a project to design and manufacture a product which would enable HP/HT exploration wells on jack-up rigs to be converted into production wells. Currently, once an HP/HT exploration well has been drilled, irrespective of whether or not the well has been assessed as being commercially viable as a producing well, it is permanently abandoned on the sea bed. No product exists which can achieve a ‘tieback’ to such wells in HP/HT conditions This is in part due to existing standard mudline suspension technology using threaded connections which cannot be reliably reconnected or tested with the corrosion resistant materials required for HP/HT production. POS-GRIP, Plexus’ patented wellhead technology, which utilises friction grip technology (not threaded connections) has demonstrated that an up to 20,000 psi HP/HT Mudline Tieback can be achieved without requiring any rotation and uses POS-GRIP to set metal to metal ‘HG’® seals to offer a tieback connection, and which can be qualified to the same standards as existing casing connections in the well.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, January 13, 2012; Image: Plexus