The biggest bismuth plug ever deployed - Project Atlas

BiSN sets largest wel-lok™ plug in the world for a super major operator in the Gulf of Mexico

The largest bismuth plug set to date being deployed by liftboat from BiSNThe largest bismuth plug set to date being deployed by liftboat from BiSN

Summary

An operator in the Gulf of Mexico had a previously abandoned subsea well that was facing abandonment challenges. A permanent, gas-tight seal was needed inside 36” conductor pipe that could be deployed rigless with a quick turnaround. BiSN was contacted to provide a solution that would protect the environment and reduce operator cost.

Acting in collaboration with the super major operator and team partners, BiSN was able to successfully seal the well using a liftboat and remote operated vehicles to deploy the tool.

This deployment considerably exceeds the world’s largest bismuth plug record set previously (by BiSN) for the Aker BP Valhall campaign in 2020.

Summary

Summary video of BiSN setting the largest bismuth alloy plug in the world.

Challenge

Sealing inside the 36″ conductor necessitated a record-breaking and unprecedented tool in terms of size and weight, given the volume of bismuth alloy needed. The tool had to contain more alloy and thermite than any previous BiSN tool, considerably surpassing the prior record set. Moreover, the tool had to be deployable without a rig, which added to the operational complexity.

The application of wel-lok™ technology in this use case had already been field proven, however the size of the seal required posed material challenges and had never been attempted before.

The weight of the tool required BiSN to expand its own internal operations and equipment to accommodate the weight of the tool and ensure safety for BiSN staff and partners during production and deployment.

Challenge

Comparison of the largest bismuth plugs in the world, Aker BP and Atlas, both from BiSN

Comparison of a typical Seal Through Casing (STC), the previous Aker BP STC, and the Tubing Seal (TS) tool used in Project Atlas.

Statistics

To give some real world comparison, once complete, the tool weighed approximately the same as a humpback whale.

Project Atlas, the largest bismuth plug in the world, compared to a humpback whale
Project Atlas, the largest bismuth plug in the world, compared to a humpback whale

The world's largest bismuth plug deployed using wel-lok™ technology.

Learn more about wel-lok™
Project Atlas Underwater Deployment - BiSNProject Atlas Underwater Deployment - BiSN

Solution

BiSN produced a Wel-Lok™ Tubing Seal (TS) using 10,000 kg of bismuth alloy, 2,000 kg of thermite, and a total weight of 20,000 kg. Prior to deployment, a drift and scraper run was completed to ensure the placement of the tool in the open conductor.

The TS tool was then deployed from a liftboat and guided into the conductor using remote operated vehicles (ROV). A timer activated system was used to start the thermite reaction, which melted the bismuth alloy from the tool. The bismuth alloy flowed into the well, completely filling the cross section of the pipe. The chemical reaction heater was removed from the molten alloy, leaving a solid, metal-to-metal seal in the pipe.

After the bismuth alloy had solidified, which causes expansion, ROVs observed the well for 20 hours with no evidence of further gas migration.

Solution

BiSN Engineering and Quality Control inspect the complete heater.

BiSN Engineering and Quality Control inspect the complete heater.

Results

BiSN set the world’s largest bismuth plug in the Gulf of Mexico and created a V0 gas-tight seal for the super major operator.

  • wel-lok™ Tubing Seal tool successfully deployed
  • Deployed rigless, using a crane on a liftboat
  • Largest bismuth plug in the world set, bypassing the previous record
  • 55 minute deployment time from ignition to heater removal
  • 20 hours of observation with no bubbles
  • Significant cost savings for the operator
  • Reliability of knowing well is permanently sealed

Results

The largest bismuth plug set to date being deployed by liftboat from BiSN

The wel-lok™ TS tool after being successfully deployed in the Gulf of Mexico.

Business Value

BiSN provided the customer with a reliable solution for permanent abandonment. This eliminated the complexity of traditional abandonment alternatives while providing the long-term reliability of bismuth alloy. Because bismuth alloy can form an effective seal with a shorter plug length, this could be deployed in the shallow conductor without requiring significant workover, representing significant cost savings for the operator.

BiSN was able to help the operator reduce HSE risks, operation time, and cost. The reliability of the bismuth plug also benefits the environment by providing a permanent seal for millennia.

Business Value

The largest bismuth plug set to date being loaded from a liftboat - BiSN

wel-lok™ Tubing Seal (TS) tool preparing to be deployed from the liftboat.

The Largest Bismuth Plug in the World

Learn about the process of creating the largest bismuth plug in the world, delivered only by BiSN’s wel-lok™ technology.

Engineering and Logistics

When the super major operator first approached BiSN, the challenge was immediate – how to stop gas migration in a previously abandoned subsea well and set a wel-lok™ plug inside a 36″ conductor pipe?

BiSN engineers and operations staff worked together with the operator to draw up plans for the largest wel-lok™ plug ever created, significantly larger than BiSN’s previous deployment of wel-lok™ technology in the North Sea for AkerBP.

A solution was arrived at to create a Wel-Lok™ Tubing Seal (TS) tool and deploy from a third party liftboat.

Engineering and Logistics

BiSN Founder and CEO Paul Carragher briefs the engineering team on the challenge.

BiSN Founder and CEO Paul Carragher briefs the engineering team on the challenge.

Tool Manufacturing

BiSN designs and manufactures each tool it produces, from the chemical reaction heater to the bismuth alloy used in wel-lok™ technology.

To create a wel-lok™ technology tool, BiSN engineers and manufacturing crew collaborate to create a permanent seal in wells to protect the environment forever. This involves the following stages:

  • Design
  • Heater construction
  • Thermite production
  • Bismuth alloy production
  • Assembly and delivery

Tool Manufacturing

Click to watch the R&D, testing, planning and manufacturing phases of the world’s biggest wel-lok™ tool.

Thermite Preparation

BiSN chemical reaction heaters are powered by controlled thermite reactions. At BiSN we create our own proprietary thermite blend to power wel-lok™ technology.

In order to create an effective seal for the operator, BiSN technicians created more than 2,000kg of thermite.

Thermite Preparation

The BiSN team with the thermite created for Project Atlas.

The BiSN team with the thermite created for Project Atlas.

Alloy Creation and Casting

BiSN’s wel-lok™ technology uses a bismuth alloy to produce a V0 gas-tight wel-lok™ plug for operators. The alloy is produced in house at both our Houston and Warrington facilities by experienced alloy technicians.

In order to cast a tool of this size, 10,000kg of alloy was created to satisfy the operator’s needs. This required a full 3 days of alloy production and 2 full days of casting the alloy onto the tool.

Alloy Creation and Casting

The BiSN team with the completed wel-lok™ Tubing Seal (TS) tool at the Houston Technology Centre.

The BiSN team with the completed wel-lok™ Tubing Seal (TS) tool at the Houston Technology Centre.

Deployment

To deploy the tool and stop gas migration in the well, BiSN worked with the operator to coordinate a liftboat and remote operated vehicles. This required overcoming several logistical challenges to ensure a smooth deployment.

The deployment was conducted in 4 stages:

  • Over-boarding the tool into the sea
  • Subsea handover to the remotely operated vehicles to position the tool
  • Activation of the tool and using the chemical reaction heater to melt the casted bismuth alloy. After a short 55 minute burn cycle, the tool was removed and put back on the liftboat.
  • A remote operated vehicle was used to monitor the solid wel-lok™ plug left to ensure there was no evidence of gas migration in the well.

Deployment

Click to watch the deployment phase of the world’s biggest wel-lok™ tool in the Gulf of Mexico.

About the application

The wel-lok™ TS (Tubing Seal) was developed to overcome the shortcomings of traditional methods, using bridge plugs and cement during well abandonment. It is typically run on electric line but can be deployed on a slick line or coil tubing as well. It can pass through small restrictions such as damaged or crushed tubing, yet still create the gas tight seal. It has a higher expansion ratio than conventional plugs, higher pressure ratings than inflatable packers and gas blocking abilities that cement cannot match.

Tubing Seal - BiSN
Tubing Seal - BiSN
Tubing Seal - BiSN
Tubing Seal - BiSN

How it works…

The wel-lok™ TS (Tubing Seal) was developed to overcome the shortcomings of traditional methods, using bridge plugs and cement during well abandonment.

How it works…

More wel-lok™ Case Studies

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