Over 4000 offshore oil wells have been drilled so far in the development of Europe's offshore oil and gas reserves. The bore of each well is lined with several steel tubes, called "casing", inside each other. The gap between each casing is filled with cement, or drilling fluids. These oil wells must eventually be removed to make the seabed safe for fishing. The traditional method of doing this is to cut the casing with explosives several metres below the seabed. This now presents problems because of the safety regulations for use of explosives offshore.
It can also disturb mounds of toxic materials on the seabed around the oil well that were deposited during drilling. There are similar problems with cutting piles on offshore platforms. Our project will overcome these problems by developing and testing a new high-pressure abrasive water jet cutting system for oil well removal. Until now this has not been feasible for cutting oil wells because the gaps containing fluids prevent a single cut through all the tubes. Our system will include a special nozzle for injecting gas into the gaps permitting the cutting jet to cross-gaps and continue the cut through several layers of steel and cement.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards