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A customer working offshore Norway was preparing to plug and abandon (P&A) one of its exploration wells. These operations had proven challenging in the past due to uncertain weather, string movement during cutting, and the inherent uncertainties of working offshore. Based on excellent performance in the past—and with only three days until the scheduled P&A—the operator asked Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), to deliver a solution that would sever the wellhead safely, and with reduced rig time compared with the operator’s prior results.

BHGE recommended using the universal wellhead retrieval system (UWRS) and the HERCULES™ multistring cutter to cut and retrieve the 20-in. x 30-in. wellhead. As job preparations got underway, the cutter’s 17-in. knives were dressed with industry leading METAL MUNCHER™ Advanced Milling Technology (AMT) carbide S-3 cutters. The S-3 cutters offer the same durability and performance as other AMT cutters, and feature a failsafe cutting edge which takes effect as the cutter wears down. This enables the S-3 cutter to continue to cut quickly and cleanly even after heavy use. In order to keep the cutter centered and stabilized in the wellhead during the cut, a 17 ⅜-in. stabilizer sleeve was affixed.

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Challenges & Results


  • Reduce rig time for P&A operation
  • Safely P&A well despite water heave of up to 9.8 ft (3 m).
  • Prepare and deploy successfully with 3 days’ lead time


  • Executed quickly, saving 12 hours of rig time
  • Reduced operational time by 66%
  • Executed flawlessly and without HSE incidents in challenging offshore environment
  • Mitigated rig vibrations when cutting shallow wellhead