The number of subsea wells has increased steadily over the years and is estimated to have exceeded 5500 by the end of 2010.
Subsea wells do in general have substantially lower recovery rates than what is normally achieved from comparable non-subsea wells. This is due to the high intervention costs which are directly related to the rates of the rigs required to carry out such operations if the traditional and conventional approach is adopted. Hence the incentive to increase recovery rates has been limited as the balance between cost and revenue has been unfavorable, even with increasing oil and gas prices. However, this has also stimulated the development of alternative methods which can enhance recovery rates and not least address the challenges created by more fields passing maturity and exploration moving to more demanding areas.
Lightweight and riserless intervention well intervention has in this context become a proven approach with considerable potential for driving the future development. The ability to substitute large rigs with smaller and dynamically positioned light well intervention vessels has a major impact on cost and time. Riserless intervention as such has been done regularly for a number of years and has set excellent HSE standards. However, in recent years the use of riserless well intervention has become increasingly instrumental in the effort to enhance recovery rates and general performance.
The paper gives an account of a scale milling operation carried out at a Norwegian field in the North Sea where two wells both suffered from a significant drop in production.