Total E&P Congo Purchases Welltec® Annular Barrier (WAB®)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – We are pleased to announce that our award winning Welltec® Annular Barrier (WAB®) has been selected by Total E & P Congo as a completion component for the upcoming wells in their deepwater, Moho Nord project.


Gbenga Onadeko
+1 281 371 1206

Sufficient quantities of WAB’s were purchased to achieve multiple barriers per well during the drilling and completion of the 17 wells planned for development of the Moho Nord field. The wells will be completed in water depths of 450 to 1200 meters producing from the Albian reservoir via a tension leg platform.

“The Moho Nord project is the biggest oil project to date in the Republic of Congo. Total E & P Congo are determined to deliver this project efficiently while assuring integrity of the wells for their full life. Welltec has supported our operations in Congo for years with their technologies and methodologies for well interventions,” states Philippe Labrugère, the Project’s Drilling Manager.

“So when Welltec introduced the WAB® to us, we immediately identified the advantages it could offer to improve efficiency, assure integrity and successfully deliver such a complex project.”

The Welltec® Annular Barrier (WAB®) is an expandable, metal barrier which can we used for well integrity, zonal isolation or cement assurance applications. It won the OTC Spotlight on New Technology in 2015 as one of the latest, most advanced technologies that are leading the industry into the future.

In addition to being rugged, it is full bore, expands on command with surface control, can be rotated during installation in high angle wells and has high expansion and Delta P capabilities.

“This is a milestone award,” explains ‘Gbenga Onadeko, Senior Vice President, Africa.

“Our clients in the region have previously used Welltec® Completions products to address drilling and production challenges but this is our biggest single award so far. We are excited to secure this significant order on the biggest, highest profile oil project in Congo. It is an opportunity to introduce and demonstrate to Total E & P the advantages which the WAB® can provide, setting up future completions successes around the globe for their organization.”

To read more about the WAB® or Welltec’s innovative Flex-Well® completion approach, download the new 2016 completion brochure at our Completion Solutions page

Zonal isolation: In any well, in any type of reservoir

The WAB® is designed to address a number of the industry’s biggest challenges. Besides being a primary barrier, as discussed in the first part of the interview, the WAB also allows operators to establish zonal isolation with inflow control, as it facilitates cement assurance. Johnny Bårdsen, a specialist in completion technology, explains how operators can benefit from this latest innovation within completion technology and gain significant time-savings and increased production.

The WAB serves several purposes. What can operators gain by applying WAB’s for zonal isolation?

It’s in the word. Operators can gain reliable zonal isolation that will be engineered to the whole solution. It’s simply about splitting the reservoir into compartments. And this can be done with very high ΔP capability that allows you to accommodate a wide range of fluid types, which other products cannot.

For example, if you plan to perform an acid stimulation job, you will need to be able to handle the high ΔPassociated with the high pressure injection down the annulus as well as the exposure to the acid itself. The developed solution would then be engineered for the injection phase, but also, it needs to be capable of functioning for the life of the well during the operational phase.

This means maintaining the zonal isolation, as well as the compartmentalization, when the pressure of the reservoir is now higher than that in the annulus. The WAB’s can deliver this solution. This now gives the operator access to a much larger footprint of a well’s reservoir exposure when drilling and completing a well.

In addition, completing a well by setting WAB’s and WFV’s (well flow valves) in the open hole provides tremendous time savings versus a double skin completion or a single skin with cement and perforations.


Today’s wells need zonal isolation

We will get back to the topic of inflow control in a second. But first, can zonal isolation be established in any well or are there limitations?

In general, you can establish zonal isolation in any well and in any different kind of reservoir. And a lot of the world is now going for the so-called ‘hard oil’, where you more or less need zonal isolation on every single well.

The effectiveness of the solution will depend on the homogeneity of the reservoir though. With high homogeneity of the reservoir you typically have the same pore pressure, production porosity and permeability across the reservoir. In such cases, you can support and guide the production flow to a very great extent. Also, you can potentially isolate if you have water or gas coning, allowing you to optimize and extend the production over a longer time.

If you have low homogeneity of the reservoir it will impact the overall production, but in practice, having controllable ‘compartments’ allows the operator to mitigate his risks by allowing control of discrete portions of the well. Heel toe effects can be minimized and excessive water production or undesired gas breakthroughs can be shut-off. So yes, in general, zonal isolation makes sense and can be used in every type of reservoir and in the vast majority of wells. It’s a matter of engineering the right solutions for their well.


Full control of flow

Inflow control is a distinctive part of zonal isolation. Why is inflow control needed?

Inflow control is about being able to control your zonal production. There’s no point in creating a zone if you cannot control the flow from that zone. That’s why you have the well flow valve available, which you can position in the zone with a given production flow area through the valve.

Within a zone there can be one valve or a vast number of valves, depending on the flow rate desired. But what it gives you is the ability to control your flow area, which means you can either chose to hold back on production in a specific zone or not. If needed, you can actually close in that zone completely and maintain another one so that you can actively drain your different compartments.

And off course, the flow valves will always be designed for the application in question, giving the client optimal conditions for zonal isolation and increased recovery.


Mechanical foundation when cement is required

That WAB can also be used for cement assurance as a way of strengthening barriers. How does this work and what can operators gain from it?

We define the Welltec® Annular Barrier as a primary barrier and we have the background to support that. However, a barrier may be defined differently by the regulators in the different areas you are working in. So in the cases where cement is a 100% required due to regulatory matters, we offer a mechanical solution that can assist to anchor and secure the casing.

In such cases, the WAB’s provide a foundation for the cement. For example, if you want to do a stage cement job, one of the biggest challenges is to actually spot and get the cement where you want it. In such a case, the WAB can be used as a cement diverter, which basically forms the foundation of the cement. Here, you expand the WAB, get a pressurized barrier against your reservoir, but you put a cement port collar above the WAB. From here, you open that collar up then force cement outside, with the WAB as the foundation.

For many operators, this will be a very good solution where cement is needed to anchor and support the casing. Potentially, the operators can also have the WAB as the primary barrier, while at the same time not actually defining or referring to it as a primary barrier because of the regulatory guideline and rules.


Enabler for new wells

What other challenges do operators struggle with that the WAB can help solve?

When operators develop the fields, they may require water injection or gas injection or other reservoir management objectives. This means that the parameters of the formation that you drill through in order to penetrate the reservoir changes during the life of the well. Many times you actually have pressure regimes that have changed so much over time that you can’t drill anymore because you can’t isolate and support it with cement.

In cases like this, the WAB can provide the defense against surface annulus pressure. [edt: Read how the WAB as a primary barrier addresses the challenge of sustained annulus pressure in the first part of the interview: Rethink your completion strategy]. Basically, with regards to developing old fields, or maintaining production from them, the WAB is an enabler for being able to drill the additional wells and isolate the potential inflow zones that have appeared over the producing life of the wells. In this way, the WAB is not just a barrier for surface annulus pressure; it can also be an enabler for new wells.


Proven technology

Is the market ready to adopt this technology?

The market is in a flux given the downturn. Some operators will not be open for new ideas. But you have technology strong markets like in the North Sea – a really technology driven market geared to maintaining and getting as much out of the formations as you potentially can, which have and will continue to drive new solutions such as this one.

And based on all our testing qualifications and our track record, the WAB technology is not new anymore. It has been accepted and adopted by many clients, including most of the IOC’s and many NOC’s.

So now it’s as much a matter of helping the operators to change their thinking a little bit, and above all, to assist them in looking at what potential value the solutions can give them in all the different variations of their challenges. With this new and proven technology we offer, we can help operators prepare to take on the decision of changing the structure of their wells and to enable new wells in the future.

Read completion cases


Johnny has extensive experience within the oil and gas industry. Among others, he worked several years for Baker Hughes and Statoil before joining Welltec in 2012 as Sales director for Well Completion Solutions in Scandinavia. Recently, Johnny won the Best Presentation Award at SPE Bergen, focusing on the WAB® and the Flex-Well® concept.

Documented right down to the smallest detail

The new Transformation Center in Denmark, which manufactures the award-winning completion product, the Welltec® Annular Barrier, is now celebrating its one-year anniversary. Facility manager, Vagn Nielsen, takes stock and unveils a state-of-the-art quality system.


Vagn Nielsen
Facility Manager
+45 8841 8501

It has been 12 months since the new Transformation Center opened. How have the past months been?

Things have gone very well and the production is up and running. Currently we are working on orders for some major operators from the Western as well as Eastern hemispheres. And we have already delivered many products for the North Sea and the Middle East.  All deployments have been exclusively successful.

And the employees are fantastic. They will stand shoulder to shoulder with each other to continue making this a success. The atmosphere is good, and people are great at cooperating and helping each other.


Complete traceability

You mention state-of-the-art manufacturing quality, what has been implemented?

Yes, indeed. It has been an exciting and successful process, where we have established and configured procedures in a way that matches our needs.

For example, we have integrated complete traceability into the new facility giving us and our customers full control of all applied material. All the way down to the individual piece of raw material that is used to create the smallest parts, from cradle to grave. We can simply control and ensure the highest quality on every single piece that is a part of our delivered products.

You almost go to extremes with traceability. Why is that?

There are several aspects to it. But the main reason is that the Welltec® Annular Barriers (WAB®) are new technology; steel that gets expanded. And once a WAB® has been expanded and set, you can’t just replace it with a new one, it’s permanent. Therefore it’s paramount that the products perform as required, which is why we ensure that every single WAB® is of the highest quality. The tracking and monitoring is one of many aspects that help us guarantee reliability.


Full transparency

Looking back the past 12 months, what are you most proud of?

Our clients’ reception of what we have done, that is for sure one of the successes.

But also, the results from establishing good processes. For example, our welding procedures where we operate with a bar code system, everything has to be scanned in every step of the way and if something doesn’t match, the work can’t be done. This ensures that all bits, people and materials meet the criteria established for the highest quality product – criteria that we require to be met before we even begin welding.

In addition, the extra feature we’ve created, where clients can follow the entire process through a live video camera. In this way, they can get fully acquainted with the processes as it is carried out as well as seeing where the quality data comes from during the welding.

Clients can monitor visually the welding and by personal remote-inspection ascertain that we are adhering to the required limits.

Why is this relevant to the customers?

The fact that we work with full transparency around our production has been received very well. It gives clients confidence in our quality processes, evidence that we don’t at any level compromise the quality of their product.

Also, we often have clients who travel from the other side of the globe to inspect the manufacturing. Now this can be done without the physical presence which both saves time and flight tickets and creates a much leaner manufacturing process.


More like a laboratory

What other highlights has there been during the past 12 months?  

Our facility in general, the high degree of tidiness and orderliness, has been received with great respect. This should be common throughout the oil and gas industry, one could say, but from the feedback we’ve received I think we’ve raised the bar here as well.

From the very beginning, Welltec’s approach has been that you cannot create quality products in a mess. That goes for all our production facilities and production machinery: they all have to be entirely top notch. This is clearly reflected on our premises, which are bright, friendly and clean – you could say more like a laboratory than a manufacturing plant.

The new facility is called a “Transformation Center”. What is meant by that?

It’s a place where you contribute to not just changing things, but changing things radically and setting a new standard for our industry. We feel the products we make can do just that.

And products that make big changes like this can’t be left to uncertainty during manufacturing.  They are produced under optimal conditions for creating quality work that meets the high quality demands of the industry. At the end of the day, this is what makes the transformation possible and why we call it a Transformation Center.


Vagn has extensive experience in building up and managing new business units. Starting out as Quality Manager at Danfoss in Denmark, he later changed to the wind sector working for both NordTank (later named Micon/Vestas) and Nordex. Before joining Welltec, Vagn was employed at AH Industries and was responsible for establishing a new sales division in the United States. Today, Vagn heads the daily operation and phasing in of new procedures in the Esbjerg facility.