Preventing and managing loss of well control: a study of well integrity failures in offshore Australia

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 1: 2018

Where there is damage to, or failure of, well-related equipment that has led or could lead to a loss of well integrity, a titleholder is required by the legislation to report the incident to NOPSEMA. In 2018, a NOPSEMA focus is to review these reports and perform inspections to identify, analyse and share information on the prevalence, management and remediation of well integrity failures across the Australian offshore petroleum industry.

NOPSEMA’s objective is to:

determine the prevalence and causes of different well integrity issues (e.g. tubing leaks, casing leaks, sustained casing pressure, failures of downhole safety valves)

understand how titleholders manage their ageing well inventory

examine the different ways companies respond to well integrity issues – for example by applying a well failure model (WFM) and/or conducting risk assessments on a well-by-well basis

share results with industry (without identifying individual titleholders) to help inform well integrity decisionmaking and encourage improvements in technology and practices.

NOPSEMA’s findings so far have already identified opportunities for improvement. For example, titleholders may wish to consider using a WFM to streamline their response to a well integrity issue and simplify the reporting process of well incidents. A WFM should list the common modes of well failure with corresponding action plans and response periods. When a well incident occurs, a titleholder would simply quote to NOPSEMA the number of the mode of failure of that particular incident. Ideally, a description of the WFM should be included in the titleholders well operations management plan to be assessed by NOPSEMA.

ISO 16530-1: 2017 Petroleum and natural gas industries — Well integrity — Part 1: Life cycle governance provides a generic WFM that titleholders may wish to consider as a starting point. NOPSEMA has accepted this international standard as ‘good industry practice’, for more information see the Continual improvement of well integrity standards in Issue 2: 2017 of the Regulator.

To promote good industry practice, NOPSEMA will continue to share its findings and lessons learned with the industry through a workshop later in 2018 and further articles in this magazine. To stay up-to-date subscribe to well integrity news and the Regulator at nopsema.gov.au/subscribe.