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Feature | May 31 2022

Boosting the production of brownfield wells through Riserless Light Well Intervention (RLWI)

The experience and efficiency of TechnipFMC’s Riserless Light Well Intervention (RLWI) team are helping oil and gas operators unlock the full potential of brownfield wells.

The company’s agile approach to RLWI enables clients to drastically cut the average duration of interventions in wells where production has reduced because of challenges such as well integrity, scaling, water production, reservoir depletion or equipment failure.

RLWI does not require a riser to carry out work inside the well, resulting in operations that are less complex, significantly faster, and have a lower carbon footprint. During one campaign on six wells in the North Sea, the operator saved 73 percent on costs and an estimated 80 percent of CO2 emissions compared with using a riser-based solution – and the work was completed 47 percent faster.

Running well interventions from a vessel instead of a rig is a key part of the method’s success. In riser-based intervention, the subsea well is extended to the surface by the riser. In RLWI, a slickline or e-line is conveyed through the open water into the well and the well is sealed around the cable at the seabed. With no need for a riser, a smaller vessel equipped with lighter equipment can be used to perform the work.

Andrea Sbordone, Business Development Manager for RLWI at TechnipFMC, said, “RLWI is the fastest way to increase production at short notice with the minimum possible lead time. Typically, only a few months pass between the decision to perform an operation and the actual operation. This is a much shorter timeframe compared with the process of drilling a new well and putting it into operation with a new subsea production system. And the increase of production that can be achieved with RLWI operations is so significant that the payback time for the cost of intervention is normally in the order of a few weeks or maximum a few months.”

From a standing start in 2005, TechnipFMC has now completed more than 765 well interventions, and is the market leader in terms of the number of RLWI jobs performed each year. In 2019, the company achieved the industry record of 81 RLWI jobs in a single calendar year.

Since 2011, the team has reduced the average time spent on each well by 65 percent, from 17 days to 5.9 days in 2021. This has been possible thanks to 15 years of collaboration with clients and sub-contractors.

Andrea said such unmatched efficiency is also the result of the impressive experience level of our crews. Most of the key personnel onboard our vessels have been working in the RLWI division since it began, and nowadays the average RLWI seniority for this personnel is more than 14 continuous years. Experience matters, and it is the efficiency that experience brings that makes the difference for clients.

There are new opportunities on the horizon for RLWI in deepwater regions such as West Africa, Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico, thanks to recently enhanced deepwater capabilities.