A well kill is a strategy that is sometimes used to close off an active well, making it easier to contain the flow of product from the well and successfully cap it. While there are several strategies used to accomplish this goal, many involve the use of what is known as kill mud or fluid to effectively block the surge of other substances from the well, alleviating pressure and making it possible to move forward with successfully sealing the well bore. While a well kill may be a deliberate attempt to close a well that is damaged or no longer needed, this term can also refer to an accidental event that was not planned in advance. When the well kill is intentional, the process involves utilizing a type of substance that is heavier than the substance that was being harvested using the active well. For example, the use of kill mud may be ideal for containing the flow from an oil well. Since the mud is heavier, it can be injected into the well itself, helping to slow and eventually create a block that prevents the underground oil from escaping through the well bore and rising to the surface. Once the flow of oil is contained, the well can be sealed or capped, effectively preventing oil to use the well channel to reach the surface.
In case of emergencies where loss of life or property is a risk, killing a well seems the best option, as it would halt possible destruction of equipment due to blowout or a fire. This acts as a major driver for well killing procedures. Furthermore, in case of rig workover, immature reservoirs or procurement of machinery, it is beneficial to cap the well instead of leaving it exposed to avoid potential hazards. Moreover, in case of uncertainty of well pressure or to conduct research on the well, it is not necessary that the rig should be exposed, thus killing the well temporarily seems most viable. Contrarily, reversing a capped well requires measures that are time and capital intensive, which is regarded as a primary restraint for well killing. Additionally, killing operations may have to be stopped because of equipment failure or for checking static pressures at certain stages of the killing process. If the killing operation is interrupted the choke must be closed immediately. The standpipe pressure should not be allowed to be bled off to its theoretical value to avoid the possibility of more influx entering the well bore. The closed-in period must be kept as short as possible.
Based on the method applied, well killing is segregated into reverse circulation, forward circulation, bullheading, driller’s method, balanced (wait and weight), and lubricate and bleed method.
The U.S. and Canada in the North American region dominate the present market demand for well killing facilities due to the increased extraction and distribution of shale gas. This could be overtaken by the Asia-Pacific countries of India and China as there is an increased exploration and extraction of natural gas all over the continent, and increased supply from the Middle East. New discoveries in the African region could also drive up the requirement for well killing facilities there. Growth prospects in the European region are predicted to be slim as the wells there have already been established and equipments are in place. Regions in the rest of the world such as Latin America have also seen a surge in demand for well killing facilities and other related equipments.
A few companies involved in the supply and manufacturing of well killing facilities are Wild Well Control Inc., Packer Service LLC, Tiger Calcium Services Inc. and Polyex CJSC.
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