Defining Well Intervention

Extending the life of producing wells.

Grey rock texture

At some point in the life of all oil and gas wells, parts will require maintenance, repair or replacement. At these times, operators turn to intervention specialists.

Interventions fall into two general categories: light or heavy. During light interventions, technicians lower tools or sensors into a live well while pressure is contained at the surface. In heavy interventions, the rig crew may stop production at the formation before making major equipment changes.

Well service personnel typically perform light interventions using slickline, wireline, or coiled tubing. These systems allow operators to minimize the possibility of potential well blockages. Operators also order light interventions to change or adjust downhole equipment such as valves or pumps, or to gather downhole pressure, temperature, and flow data.


Rick von Flatern


Oilfield Review

Photo of a woman but coveralls looking down an abandonment tool in a manufacturing facility (Tier 1_ManufacturingFacility_SugarLand_AML_5427)

Heavy interventions—also referred to as workovers—require the rig crew to remove the wellhead and other pressure barriers from the well to allow full access to the wellbore. These operations require a rig to remove and reinstall the wellhead and completion equipment.

Typically, heavy interventions are used to replace parts such as tubing strings and pumps that cannot be retrieved through light interventions. Some heavy interventions are performed to plug and abandon an original producing zone to reconfigure the well to produce from a secondary zone; these operations are known as recompletions.

Discover the Defining Series—concise, comprehensive, summaries of a wide range of industry topics. The article “Defining Intervention: Upstream Maintenance and Repair” focuses on the essentials of well intervention and describes the basic tools and methods available to operators whose wells are producing below potential.

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