Introducing Galea™ - the World’s First Fully Autonomous Well Intervention System

6th December 2021

Paraffin wax build-up in production tubing is a common and serious problem. It occurs in wells all over the world and can have a severe impact on the profitability of the well.

As oil makes its way up the production tubing it cools and eventually reaches the wax appearance temperature. This is when the wax molecules in the oil stabilize and join to form wax crystals. These stick to the internal bore of the production tubing, and over time, solidify and restrict the flow of oil.

If no remedial action is taken, these wax crystals will continue to build up on top of one another and eventually plug the well, stopping production entirely.

To maintain production rates, the wax solids must either be prevented from forming or removed periodically. Mechanical scraping is a commonly used method for removing the wax, but the current process does have its downsides.

  • It’s labor intensive: some wells need to be scraped several times a day using wireline crews to rig up, stop production, run the tool, scrape the wax, pull out of hole and rig down every time.
  • High HSE exposure: a wireline crew doing a repetitive job every day involving cranes, pressure control equipment, tool strings, and significant amounts of additional equipment that needs to be rigged up, exposing potential safety issues
  • Environmentally disruptive: wireline trucks are mobilised up to several times a day to repeat operations at the wellsite
  • Equipment availability: equipment mobilization can be challenging in terms of having availability and potential delays from weather or other mobilization issues . Wax-scraping schedule can be delayed resulting in lost production.
  • Higher operating costs: a significant portion of the total job cycle and therefore the cost job, relates to the mobilization to and from wellsite and rig-up rig down of equipment.

 

Our answer was to develop Galea™ - the world’s first fully autonomous well intervention system – to maximize production while reducing intervention costs, HSE risks, and environmental impact.

Galea™ replaces larger, conventional and more labour-intensive wireline rig-ups to perform a range of routine slickline operations such as wellbore solids removal, plug setting, plug pulling and logging surveys

The features of GaleaTM when used in the wellbore solids removal application include:

  • Permanently mounted on the wellhead
  • No personnel required on-site during operations
  • Fully autonomous – regular mechanical scraping of the tubing bore with minimal impact on well production
  • Wax removal tool automatically deployed to optimize production
  • The system has a failsafe control system to isolate the lubricator assembly and close the well
  • Galea™ can be powered by a renewable source – up to three interventions a day are possible when using a solar panel/battery powered system

 

In fully autonomous mode, Galea™ deploys a tool string into the well either at regular intervals or defined by the well conditions. With round-the-clock remote monitoring from anywhere in the world, Galea™ can increase production, lower OPEX costs and HSE exposure, and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of intervention operations, particularly where access to the well site may be challenging, hazardous, or even impossible.

In semi-autonomous mode, Galea™ performs a pre-programmed intervention sequence, initiated locally or remotely. This benefits multi-well platforms or pads where regular interventions – such as paraffin wax scraping operations – are required. A small, self-contained intervention package located at the well site year-round eliminates dependency on wireline unit or truck availability. It also reduces the impact of operations on the environment around the well site. Galea has several fail-safe features to ensure containment and eliminate potential wire-breaks during interventions.

In manual mode, Galea™ enables quick rig-up intervention compared to conventional operations. When not in use, the system occupies a fraction of the deck space required for a standard slickline winch unit and pressure control equipment package. A single lift, enclosed rotating parts, and the elimination of slickline wire across open deck-space enhance the system’s safety credentials.

The benefits of Galea™ are:

  • Minimizes deferred production
  • Reduces operational overheads
  • Wax scaping intervals are defined by well conditions, not by the availability of wireline crew and equipment
  • Reduces HSE risk and exposure for personnel
  • Enables production continuity in remote or inaccessible locations
  • Reduces environmental impact including remote locations in protected areas
  • 24/7 monitoring from anywhere in the world

 

Having successfully passed trials, Galea™ is already attracting interest from customers as a solution to a wide range of applications.

The latest addition to Expro’s balanced portfolio of world-class services and future-facing technologies, Galea™ is the guardian of your well, enabling you to maximize production. 

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