In order to reduce rig time during workover operations, a new electric line (e-line) mechanical pipe cutting tool was deployed rigless in four ERD wells in the Middle East. The 4-1/2” production tubing of several high deviation wells needed to be cut and pulled prior to a tubing change-out campaign, commencing February 2013. This particular mechanical cutter was chosen for its non-explosive design, where a rotating crown removes pipe wall by grinding, creating a smooth bevelled surface without shavings. This eliminates the need for a polishing trip, allows the pipe to be severed even when under compression, and leaves a cut profile in the well which is ideal for subsequently fishing. Also, this type of cutter incorporates a ‘fail-safe’ mechanism that prevents the tool from becoming stuck following the cut process, and the cutting crown design precludes the tendency for sticking, which is a major concern with other mechanical cutters. In January, 2013, a system integration test was conducted to determine whether a grinding face cutter could actually cut a pipe in compression. A jig was set up to provide 20,000 lbs of compressive force on a 4-1/2”, 12.6 lbs/ft pipe. The cut was made in 36 minutes. The subsequent rigless operations on four wells resulted in six successful cuts, without the requirement for the pipe to be put in neutral weight or tension. The amount of compression at the cutting depth was unknown, but at least 10,000lbs, as per the packer setting procedures. A key benefit of mechanical pipe cutters is that they eliminate the use of explosives and chemicals which can pose HSE and operational risks, especially when simultaneous operations are being conducted. The transfer and handling of explosives may also cause additional logistical requirements and significant delays, as safety procedures are employed. In addition, this mechanical solution eliminates the need for dress runs, and tubing recovery is optimized from a rig time perspective. This paper will discuss the operational steps taken to make the pipe cuts, a description of the new pipe cutting tool and lessons learned to improve future operations.


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