Innovation award for glass plug

August 25, 2004, 14:05 CEST

The first ONS SME Innovation Award has been won by Total Catcher Offshore (TCO) for a glass plug system developed for oil and gas wells with Statoil as the prime mover.

Simplifying the process of completing new wells and preparing them for production, the plug was adopted by the group on its Snorre field in the North Sea earlier this year.

The ONS award has been instituted for small and medium-sized enterprises to ensure that the traditional innovation award presented by the Stavanger show does not go only to big companies.

During completion, wells are tested with plugs before production begins. One challenge has been to create devices which can withstand high pressure and temperature.

At the same time, they must be both installable and retrievable in the simplest possible way when production is due to begin.

The TCO plug meets these criteria, with the pressure and temperature challenge solved by using glass sheets which can withstand up to 135°C and 100 tonnes of pressure.

Fitting the plug with a pyrotechnical unit also makes it easy to remove. When subject to a certain number of pressure pulses, the device collapses so that hydrocarbons can begin to flow.

Unlike much traditional technology, this solution avoids any narrowing of the production liner. That boosts production and simplifies maintenance, which in turn improves profitability.

Savings from using the glass-based plugs on Snorre came to an estimated NOK 2 million, or 1.5 rig-days. The system is due to be adopted on a number of the fields operated by Statoil.