In the latest installment of our ‘Ask the Experts’ series, Add Energy’s Well Integrity and Production Optimization expert, Trina Morillo, shares powerful insights from her diverse career in oil and gas, which has spanned from Venezuela to Australia.
Read on to uncover invaluable advice for overcoming the challenges facing this fast-paced industry as Trina discusses the prospects of new technologies shaping the future of well integrity…
Can you share a snapshot of your career history, and what attracted you to Add Energy?
“I’ve had a diverse career where I’ve delved into many aspects within the oil and gas industry, expanding my expertise in maintenance and operations to well production and optimization. I began my career with Schlumberger in Venezuela where I’m originally from, before taking a step into a Maintenance Analyst role at Chevron. I’ve also enjoyed a consultancy-based role at Helix RDS which was later acquired by Baker Hughes. Prior to joining Add Energy in 2015, I worked at Chevron again on the Wheatstone Project here in Perth, Australia.
“I already had connections at Add Energy from my time in Venezuela, so I knew the organization would be the perfect fit for me after learning of their focus and dedication to well integrity, optimization, and intervention - which is my background of expertise. I knew of the good relationships Add Energy had developed with various operators and that they consistently had great opportunities for those with similar backgrounds to me - it was a fantastic opportunity for me to pursue.”
Can you tell us a bit about your role?
“Working as a Senior Production Engineer specializing in well integrity, I support and work closely with the Well Intervention Team in Perth on one of their gas well assets. It’s my job to review that all wells are within their operating limits, as well as carrying out investigations and risk assessments that will address any issues or concerns. I’m also involved in well intervention and maintenance activities, and have the crucial responsibility of reporting any well events to the regulator in Australia.
“I try to go out at least once per quarter to the platform to maintain that strong relationship and communication with my offshore colleagues - some queries can be difficult to solve over email and can really benefit from that in-person interaction.”
What are your key responsibilities or goals?
“I’m a production technologist by trade with an expertise in well integrity and production, which is essential for my work as a Senior Production Engineer here in Perth. My role is crucial so that production can be continued safely - it’s my ultimate responsibility to ensure the wealth, integrity and reliability of the wells are maintained to the highest standard.
“I work closely with the Well Intervention Team, continuously sharing technical information to plan and scope any job - the combination of varying perspectives, experience, and knowledge means we can tackle any challenges effectively.”
What is so important about your area of expertise - what value can it bring to companies?
“As many wells are coming to the end of their life, the current attitude within the oil and gas industry is very much focused on maximizing the production of wells already operating in the field. This is a result of increasing budget constraints and many companies considering an overarching goal of investing in new energy solutions as opposed to drilling in new areas.
“Our work requires significantly less investment for clients than starting new projects or drilling new wells, as we have the ability to identify any inefficiencies and make improvements to maximize the production of the wells currently in the field. So although these assets are now surpassing their design life, the goal of the Well Intervention team is to gain a clear understanding of the integrity and operating limits of the wells and review how these can be recovered and extended safely and responsibly.
“We help clients gain an economical edge, as our work aids the life extension of wells already in production which reduces their need to invest huge amounts of money in producing new wells. This is specifically prevalent in Australia right now as costs are unfortunately very high and impacting budgets. At Add Energy, we are consistently problem-solving and researching alternative technologies and solutions that can address this challenge for our clients.”
What is the main challenge facing Well Intervention teams and how would you recommend they overcome it?
“After three harsh consecutive downturns in the industry and financial crisis all over the world, the recurrent words are becoming uncertainty and adjustment. This spreads across all key areas of the operation and are reflected in lead times, freight delays, costs, and so on. In addition to this, the industry is also facing a shift in the ability to retain experience and development of skills across teams, as more people are retiring or leaving the industry than those joining.
“Addressing the requirements of aging well infrastructures will require ingenuity, experience and courage to adopt new technologies and innovative intervention techniques. This is becoming more relevant these days as Operators embrace the responsibilities of infrastructure abandonment whilst maintaining fair costs.”
Real life example
“A good example of this reprioritization and flexible planning in action is when we had a well intervention project scheduled for over a year but then, due to a well failure, we immediately had to reshift our priorities. We implemented crucial decision-making in a short timeframe and asked ourselves what priority number one was based on integrity and production issues - what needed to be addressed first?
“In this case, the decision was easy and selection was made on a risk basis to ensure that we met all assurance processes. The intervention program was changed to remediate the emergent failure issue and successfully returned the well to service.”
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone in a similar role to you?
“In terms of aging assets, it’s important that you have clear predetermined plans for when a well reaches the end of its field life. This is something we review annually, so we always have a good grasp of where the well is in terms of production life and when it will reach the end of its field life.
“The reason this is so important is to ensure that we are ready if an opportunity arises where the well’s life can be extended. If you fail to prepare for these opportunities then you may miss out on them as the economics may no longer support the initiative.”
Are there any hot topics related to this area of expertise in the industry right now?
“As we enter a significant Plug and Abandonment wave, early strategy is key. Instead of carrying out the entire process all at once, P&As can be done in various stages until a well is finally abandoned. Breaking up the process by completing reservoir permanent isolations means you can make significant savings through optimized maintenance, monitoring and surveillance, reducing the requirements for surface equipment and reducing well integrity testing and instrumentation testing activities.
“By starting a plug and abandonment process earlier rather than waiting until the end of a field life, you can also remove integrity risks for shut-in wells and lower risk for well abandonment activities with early identification of well accessibility issues.”
What does the future look like for well integrity and optimization?
“I think the future of well integrity and optimization will have a focus on testing new technologies, and evaluating how these can merge into our operations.
“Implementing new technologies is a long process that can often take over a year to complete, as there are many elements to consider, such as:
- A thorough risk assessment
- Regulatory approvals
- A strong business case
- Agreement with varying stakeholders
“It takes time, but it’s so important to have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the new opportunities developing across the world and to have conversations with the developers of these new technologies.
“A good example of implementing new technologies is well plugs. Previously, a traditional well plug was carried out with cement, which required pumping units and made this an intense operation. Now there are better alternatives, such as metal alloy plugs, although they are categorized as incipient technologies, which have already been implemented in different parts of the world to make the process quicker and cost effective.”
What do you think it takes to become an expert in your field?
“I think it’s invaluable to have exposure to an array of situations and witness how different people and organizations around the world operate. This is something we benefit from at Add Energy as our team is spread across the globe, meaning we can share learnings and knowledge from operating in different countries and environments.
“I also have the perspective and knowledge from working in consultancy, at a service provider, and within an operator which allows me to share the expertise I’ve gained with my colleagues allowing for better collaboration.”
Get to know Add Energy’s driven subject matter experts and discover their top insights on how to overcome the challenges facing their core specialty below…