Well simulator to help improve well-plugging technologies

14 Aug 2017

There are tens of thousands of coal seam gas wells to be drilled in Queensland and hundreds of thousands of water and old coal bores in existence. Most of these will need to be plugged and decommissioned at some time in the future.

New technologies are being developed at The University of Queensland to do this, but how do we know they will be effective at preventing future escape of gas or water?

A new well simulator has been constructed at UQ's Centre for Coal Seam Gas (CCSG) to help develop and test these new technologies.

Led by Professor Brian Towler's team from the School of Chemical Engineering, with Dr Heinz-Gerd Holl as chief investigator, the five-tonne, six-metre-high facility will initially be used to test the stability of UQ’s new bentonite plugs under borehole conditions.

Director of the Centre for Coal Seam Gas Professor Andrew Garnett said that providing a controlled, scientific test facility in Queensland will potentially help researchers make technological and environmental advancements in the field.

The well simulator has been developed with funding from CCSG, which is funded by UQ and industry members Arrow Energy, APLNG, Santos and Shell/QGC. This new research is also partly funded through a grant from the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships (AQIP) program.

In the future, the facility will provide an isolation testing facility for a number of technologies for the onshore gas industry in Queensland and beyond.