Collaboration will test alternatives to cement for plugging oil and gas wells.

By Dale Lunan

Technology providers from Canada and Scotland said November 21 they would collaborate to develop new technologies aimed at reducing methane leaks from both active and abandoned oil and gas wells.

Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC), InnoTech Alberta and Frontier Project Solutions will join with Scotland’s Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) to develop new products and processes for plugging inactive wells and eliminate emissions from leaky wells.

Cement has long been used complete producing wells and to plug and abandon inactive wells. But cement can often crack, allowing methane to escape to the surface.

The international collaboration will test five alternatives to cement designed to reduce the risk of methane migration. Over the next two years, the partners will work with half a dozen production companies to test the various alternatives, and will share the results as they become available.

“InnoTech Alberta has been working with industry for quite some time to address this pressing environmental and operational problem,” InnoTech COO Steve McMahon said. “About 50,000 leaking wells have accumulated in Canada, so it's imperative to develop effective materials and processes for well closure.”

The largest financial contribution to the C$4mn project, which will be managed by InnoTech, will come from Canada’s Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) and NZTC, with additional funding from Canadian producers through the Alberta Upstream Petroleum Research Fund, which is managed by PTAC. Support will also come from Alberta Innovates and Frontier Project Solutions, while the participating producers will provide site access and in-kind services to facilitate field trials, which are expected to begin in Q4 2022.

“PTAC continues to advance technology solutions for the oil and gas sector to solve some of our pressing environmental challenges,” PTAC COO Allan Fogwill said. “This project, along with the significant inclusion of NZTC in the UK, demonstrates the effectiveness of industry collaboration.”