Well repair – work for real men

April 29, 2015

Gazprom is the global leader in gas production. It should be reminded that our share in the global production equals 13 per cent, in the domestic production it is 73 per cent, and the main production region is the Nadym-Pur-Taz oil & gas bearing province in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area. This is where we will go today – to the premises of our subsidiary company Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy.

The mission of this company is to secure the operation of the Gazprom Group gas production subsidiaries in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area. For this purpose Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy is focused on major workover operations, upgrade, overhaul, technical re-equipment, abandonment, suspension and testing of all types of wells.

“Why does one need to repair wells?” you might ask. Isn’t it easier to construct the new ones? It turns out that it is more cost-efficient to restore an operating well than to drill another one. In addition, major workover contributes to mitigating the environmental impact – giving up new drilling helps to preserve the fragile northern nature.

We should mention right away that the environmental aspect is given a paramount importance in Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy activity. The company observes the most stringent environmental standards and applies the most up-to-date technologies in this area. For example, in 2014 during the major oil wells workover at the Urengoyskoye field (in the photo), an innovative method of oil-contaminated soil cleanup and restoration was applied for the first time ever, based on the biodegradation of contaminants by microorganisms.

Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy was established in 2007 under the auspices of well stimulation & repair companies – Gazprom Dobycha Urengoy, Gazprom Dobycha NadymGazprom Dobycha Yamburg and Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk (companies had a 25 to 30-year experience of operation in the Extreme North). Photo: first well workover operations in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area were conducted back in the 1970s.

Presently 1,930 people work for the company. On average, Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy performs over 700 various well operations a year, over 300 of which account for major well workovers.

The company employs people with the utmost sense of responsibility – here they operate the production facilities with the highest fire, chemical and explosion safety requirements.

Professional skill competitions held every other year represent a fundamental stage in career development of the company’s employees. In the photo: the 2014 competition participants.

Major well workover is a hard, genuinely man’s labor under harsh natural and climatic conditions. A crowbar, a sledge hammer and a shovel still form a part of the daily arsenal of a driller assistant’s tools. By the way, it also includes a personal computer, up-to-date communication systems and other innovative equipment.

What is major well workover like? It’s a most complicated technological process performed at depths exceeding 3,500 meters. A repair procedure includes handling of drilling or tubing pipes, well bottom cleanout from sand and mechanical admixtures, replacement of various underground equipment as well as measures for limiting the water influx. All this is done in order to ‘breathe new life’ into wells –bring their operation as close as possible to the design parameters.

Another process operation conducted by Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy is well repair using coiled tubing units (in the photo) or wireline equipment. This work involves different types of bottomhole area cleaning from sand and mechanical admixtures.

Well completion is a process operation involving the commissioning of an oil & gas facility immediately after the end of drilling operations.

It should be noted that the company’s team consists not only of well workover personnel. Their work is supported by repair and transportation units of Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy. Photo: equipment repair shop of the Noyabrsk Division; Vladimir Kolmakov, lathe operator of the sixth category, excellent worker, master of his craft is at the lathe. Vladimir Kolmakov has been employed in the oil & gas industry for over 20 years.

Equipment repair stations as well as vehicles and special equipment fleets of Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy are located at production supply bases in Novy Urengoy, Noyabrsk, Nadym, in Pangody and Yamburg settlements as well as at large fields within the company’s area of activity.

Still the main events take place directly at producing fields. Right now we will pay a visit to a crew which is currently engaged in a major workover of well No. 101 at the Yubileynoye oil, gas & condensate field being developed by Gazprom Dobycha Nadym. Today it is crew No. 1 of Workshop No. 1 for Major Well Workover and Well Service at the Nadym Division for Well Stimulation and Repairs of Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy.

A work day of any crew deployed at the site, or, speaking ‘the northerners’ language, ‘in the tundra’, starts with a briefing. A working meeting begins before dawn, usually at 8:00 am. It coincides with a shift change. After an 11-hour watch, the night shift leaves to have breakfast and rest, and ‘the day watch’ goes on a ‘combat duty’ at the wellhead.

Meanwhile, the day has broken. The forest tundra is still hazy, but the sun is already rising. Before going to the well, an obligatory induction meeting is held, everyone should attend it, including the journalists. Each visitor is provided with personal protective equipment.

A usual shift of a well workover crew consists of five people – a foreman driller, driller, two driller assistants, a hoist or a coil tubing unit operator. When it is necessary, a cementing unit operator joins them as well as other experts. Photo: crew’s day shift consisting of Alexander Grigoryev (driller assistant), Vyacheslav Sivakov (Lead Engineer of the Nadym Directorate), Mars Salikhov (driller), Alexander Akberdin (driller assistant), Stanislav Sinko (unit operator), Oleg Lyskov (foreman).

Each crew is a merger of youth and experience and as a rule the crew members come from different parts of Russia. This very crew comprises the representatives of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, the Belgorod and Ulyanovsk Regions. They work every other month, spending 30 days in the tundra and the same amount of time resting from rotations. The crew’s night shift represents Pangody settlement of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area; here the rotations last for 15 days, since the shift members live not too far away.

A foreman is in charge of it all. Oleg Lyskov graduated from Tyumen State Oil and Gas University and has been in the gas industry since 1988; his career began in Langepas and Noyabrsk. He’s been employed at Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy since 2011.

Hoist unit operator Stanislav Sinko goes to the site. He will participate in pipe withdrawal and storing.

Driller assistants Alexander Grigoryev and Alexander Akberdin conduct round-trip operations at the wellhead. A 73-millimeter drill pipe goes up and down the wellbore. In order to complete the well cleanout to the full extent, 127 pipes need to be inserted into and then withdrawn from a well.

An experienced driller Mars Salikhov is at the control panel. He has been in the gas industry for over 20 years.

A driller monitors the work of driller assistants who assemble the so-called ‘suspender’ – they assemble and suspend a drill pipe before running it into a wellbore.

Mars Salikhov tells Vyacheslav Sivakov, Lead Engineer of the Nadym Directorate about the completed technological operation.

As we’ve already mentioned, major well workover is a physically demanding job. A driller assistant withdraws and moves up to 40 tons of pipes per shift, only a very high-skilled, physically vigorous man of spirit can cope with such a trial.

That is why lunch here is a part of a technological process. The crew entrusts only the most conscientious workmates with cooking.

Meals are eaten during breaks between the technological operations. Before leaving the wellhead, the crew always seals the well. When everything is calm at the well, it’s OK to have a snack.

Specialty bread cut from cementing unit operator Evgeny Ryzhov.

The crew’s lunch has just finished, and all their efforts are hurled into drill pipe round-trip operations at the wellhead again.

Little by little the twilight is falling over the Yubileynoye field. The temperature drops to minus 25 degrees Celsius…

… but the crew goes on flushing the well bottom. A bit more than an hour is left before the shift end.

It is 8:00 pm local time, but it is already dark, only powerful floodlights make it possible to continue working. The watch is taken over by the night shift consisting of driller Alexey Nedorezov, driller assistants Oriorzhon Sobirov and Andrey Terletsky, coil tubing unit operator Sergey Pastukhov and cementing unit operator Ivan Volokhaty.

The polar night has set in and it is time for us to say goodbye to the Yubileynoye field. ‘Our’ crew will stay here for two more weeks in order to complete the repairs of well No. 101. Then they will move on to the next well – the work for real men at Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy is precisely planned.

Vyacheslav Kalinin (Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy) and Daniil Khusainov, Gazprom website Editorial Board

You can find large-size images in Photos.

P. S. We would like to thank Oleg Piven, Head of the Nadym Directorate for Well Stimulation and Repairs of Gazprom Podzemremont Urengoy for help with arranging the trip