Every oil & gas company needs many temporary abandonment caps on hand in the inevitable event that a well runs dry or is no longer economically viable. The well sealing process is extremely important and tightly regulated, as any carelessness during sealing or any flaw in the plug’s design can result in a catastrophic event. Water contamination, explosions, and destruction of the well are all possible if the plug is not designed and installed properly, so companies must have a plug they can rely on. What these companies are looking for is a plug made from polyurethane. Polyurethane is a versatile, resilient material that can resist the kind of pressure and wear that plugs face, and is safe to use underwater.
Why should oil & gas companies rely on polyurethane temporary abandonment caps?
When the well runs dry or is no longer viable, several steps must be taken to ensure the well doesn’t leak brine, oil or gas into the surrounding environment. Failure to do so can result in serious effects, including groundwater contamination. The well column has to be cleaned out to prevent corrosion. The well has to be filled with concrete in spots to separate oil from water, and water from gas. And the top of the well has to be cut away and secured with a plug. It’s this plug that will ward off blowouts and other extremely dangerous outcomes.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that the process has to be reversible to an extent so that production may begin again at a future date. This includes the plug, which must be easy to remove by the right people. In short, it would be a major liability if anyone could access and remove the plug.
That’s a lot to ask from a plug, so it better be reliable. Companies have plenty to choose from, including several designs, but the primary consideration is what the temporary abandonment caps are made with. Polyurethane represents the best choice in this regard, as metals, plastics and cement have their issues when acting as a surface plug. Metal corrodes quickly and does not interact with water well. Plastics have relatively poor pressure and impact resistance. Cement is essential for plugging parts of the well, but surface plugs have to be more than just simple blocks of material to seal everything off. Cement can also be too porous to serve underwater, though this can be compensated for.
Polyurethane makes for ideal temporary abandonment caps because it is highly resistant to water and oil infiltration. Polyurethane will not corrode and can withstand a great deal of pressure and heat. In fact, it can withstand nearly any harsh environment, so it can serve as a plug for any well. Polyurethane is highly versatile as well, and it can be molded to fit any well design and with any additions a company needs.
When it’s time to return to the well, no matter how long it’s been, the polyurethane plug will still be there.