Wireless Intelligence to Improve Brownfield and Greenfield Reservoir Recovery
- Gary Smart (Tendeka)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 18
- 2011. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Completion design and reservoir recovery have never been closer together, with major research and development initiatives in play for the industry to take the next big leap into the greater use of wireless technology.
In the mid-1990s, operators began to see the benefits reaped by developing large horizontal wells that offered huge returns from a single wellbore. However, reservoir heterogeneity became a major issue, driving the need to not only isolate zones, but also to control them through mechanical systems. The ability to run a simple shifting tool on slick line to operate a sliding sleeve turned into the application of coiled tubing hydraulic techniques to manipulate the industry’s existing flow control architecture.
Intelligent completions developed from these requirements. They are not new to the industry and the purpose remains the same: to enable the well owners to improve hydrocarbon recovery through the ability to manipulate reservoir inflow. The installation track record is growing, and, as is our industry’s forte, new methods and technologies are continually evolving. One of the most exciting developments in terms of economics, reliability, and functionality is the evolution of wireless technologies in the completions sector. Perhaps it is time that wireless technology grows in prominence as well testing and logging take a front seat.
The drive for additional control, without the complexity of electrical or hydraulic capillaries, is in part fueled by the increasing requirements of well integrity and abandonment, with legislation playing a significant part. Control lines offer a conduit to the reservoir and should be considered in the overall well construction cost. The innovation continues with wireless.
Where companies are supplying more innovative and reliable completion technologies, reservoir monitoring becomes more mainstream. The challenge is what to do with this data if the completion is passive? The evolution of wireless technologies toward providing the well owner with the ability to transmit signals through a multitude of methods (pulse, acoustic, telemetry), and activating or changing the setting of in-well equipment seems a logical answer.
Historically, such a system has only been available in greenfield developments where intelligent completions are installed as part of the original well completion program. However, the importance of enabling the installation of an intelligent completion in a brownfield development is ever present. And wireless technology is appealing because it can be retrofitted. The systems under development today are equally suited to new wells or applicable for workovers.
In the past five years—a very short time horizon given the industry’s long-term rate of new technology adoption—wireless technologies have been installed in a plethora of different applications, proving their economic value and reliability. In the completions sector, many pressure/temperature sensors have been installed during intervention campaigns. These sensors are operated by use of an intelligently created pressure-pulse variation sent through the production flow stream and interpreted by standard surface equipment.
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