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Field Trial of Cloud-Connected Wireless Completion System

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The effectiveness of intelligent completions for production optimization and improvement of reservoir management is well established, yet the use of the technology remains limited to high-value, single-bore wells. The cost and complexity of these solutions, coupled with limitations in well types, interval quantity, and system-interface quality, have prevented broader application. This paper describes the development and field trials of a cloud-connected, wireless intelligent completion system that enables long-term monitoring and interval control to enhance production management by connecting the user wirelessly from the desktop to downhole inflow-control valves (ICVs).

Introduction

One reason for the high expense of intelligent completion technology is the need for a wire or tubes to control and power downhole equipment such as sliding sleeves. An intelligent completion that communicates wirelessly within the wellbore provides dual benefits in completion operations and production management, and eliminates the requirement for control lines. The all-electric technology also provides greater scope for digital well management and integration with surface systems (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1—Configuration of wireless intelligent completion system SAU=surface acquisition unit.

 

A slimline ICV has been developed that provides infinitely variable choking capability and multiple integrated sensors. Qualification has been completed to the operator’s existing standard for interval control valves adapted and augmented to reflect the differences between the wireless solution and conventional technology.

Several field installations have been performed with the system, two of which are detailed in the complete paper. In the first of these two, operations were performed with local-only access to surface data. The project demonstrated the ability to communicate effectively but highlighted some mechanical limitations in the tool itself. After design improvements, a second installation was performed, which also included a surface management system with wireless interpretation software and cloud connectivity.

The system described in the paper has been proven to provide robust communication using pressure pulses within the flowing wellstream to provide operating instructions to the ICV, and for the ICV to operate as instructed and communicate effectively to the wellhead. Data from the system have been digitally managed and remotely accessed, demonstrating the ability to change tool settings remotely.

Integrating a semiduplex pressure-pulse system, which operates in compressive fluid environments to provide direct communication between a downhole device and wellhead, provides a low-energy communication method compatible with extended-service-life completion tools. The system has been demonstrated with ICV technology in both multiphase and gas environments. In field trials, this has been integrated with an intelligent system, effectively deploying what the authors describe as the world’s first cloud-connected wireless ­intelligent completion.

Excessive water production is a challenge for the production system and does not create value. In this wireless system, the valve is a key element to control the inflow into the well. By measuring and controlling the inflow, shutting off water-producing zones and increasing the production of hydrocarbons is possible.

Currently, wireless systems are powered by batteries. The short lifetime of such batteries is a drawback, but because the system can be retrofitted, replacement of the unit is possible. This unit will be a component in a system controlling the inflow. A downhole generator taking a bit of the power from the production stream is a possible power source. This is a future challenge, and a key enabler for wireless technology.

Technology Description and Qualification

An intelligent completion system must include both downhole monitoring and the ability to control or shut off flow from individual zones within the wellbore. Historically, a hydraulically operated sliding-sleeve configuration has been used to provide this functionality in permanently installed intermediate or lower completions. Monitoring has been provided by electronic multidrop gauges deployed as an independent system within the completion. The recent advent of all-electric systems has enabled the integration of sensor technology with the control valves.

For wireless intelligent completion technology, the initial ICV configurations have been developed as inline devices to control flow from below when configured with a plug or from an upper interval when configured with a straddle. With existing lithium ion batteries, the technical limit for service life is approximately 8 years in temperatures below 65°C, but significantly lower at higher temperatures. With the service life of the technology often less than that of the well life, providing a system that can be installed later in well life or can be retrieved to enable battery changeout increases the applicability of the technology significantly and de-risks deployment of a new technology. To achieve this retrievability, the ICV needs to be small to fit within existing tubing sizes and, at only 2.5-in. outer diameter, the full system can be deployed in tubing sizes as small as 3.5 in., making this the smallest ICV developed to date.

The paper describes the system hardware and telemetry and describes the qualification program. As part of a stage-gate design process, a failure-mode-and-effects analysis (FMEA) was performed to minimize design risk and identify significant failure modes at the component and subsystem level. The FMEA considered the required functionality and interfaces of the ICV within the well system. Component-level testing was completed as part of the design process, with final qualification focused on subsystem and complete assembly testing.

The wireless ICV is an electronically based, long-service, inline system and therefore presented some challenges in finding the appropriate testing criteria, because it did not fit completely within many of the conventional categories established in the governing qualification guidelines. A bespoke qualification plan was developed with the aim of satisfying the operator’s requirements for well-completion equipment. In areas where those requirements could not be used in their entirety, appropriate DNV and ISO standards were also referenced.

Because the telemetry system and much of the electronics had been prequalified for application as a wireless pressure and temperature gauge, the primary objective of the qualification program was to confirm the functionality of the ICV mechanism and its interface with the telemetry system. Following assessment of the detailed product design and early tool trials, a technical specification was prepared to define the boundaries for the tool qualification.

Two categories of test were developed—design specification and product life cycle—and completed to form a comprehensive test program. The design-specification element of the program targeted the mechanical performance of the device with the product life-cycle element evaluating the performance of the device in application.

Field Trials

The paper includes a detailed description of the telemetry and cloud-connected field trials. The primary objective of the telemetry trial was to determine the ability of the ICV to detect pressure pulses created by the surface choke and to interpret telegram sequences. According to the authors, this was the first time that semiduplex communications were demonstrated in a live well and the first use of automated pulse-detection and telegram-decoding algorithms. The authors believe this to be a critical milestone in demonstrating that wireless intelligent completion systems using pressure pulsing can be achieved.

The primary objective of the cloud-connected field trial was to demonstrate the full functionality of the ICV within a well system. Because the ICV was to remain in the well sending regular telegrams to surface, multiple advantages existed in being able to access the data remotely, and a secondary objective of demonstrating a cloud-­connected system was identified. Because the simplest mechanism of recovering wellhead pressure data was with a wireless surface pressure system, the resultant planned system was entirely wireless from the ICV to the remote desktop or smartphone.

Conclusions

  • The benefits of wireless intelligent completions, cost-effectiveness, and expansion of the application range of traditional intelligent completions have been demonstrated.
  • Using a low-complexity pressure-pulse telemetry minimizes hardware requirements and system-interface challenges. The development and trial phase demonstrated the following:
    • The retrofittable and slimhole wireless ICV is robust and qualified for extended use in a downhole environment.
    • Semiduplex communications can be achieved through manipulation of a wellhead choke.
    • A system of signal calibration can provide optimal telemetry across a changing production environment.
    • The wireless ICV can successfully receive and decode surface commands.
    • The intelligent completion system can be monitored readily through a cloud-based interface.
  • While the development of wireless intelligent completion is still at an early stage compared with that of traditional hydraulic technology, significant milestones have been achieved. Having successfully demonstrated the viability and flexibility of the technology, the future of wireless intelligent completions holds significant potential in improving reservoir management.
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Judy Feder, contains highlights of paper SPE 192940, “Development and Field Trial of the World’s First Cloud-Connected Wireless Intelligent Completion System,” by Annabel Green, SPE, and Paul Lynch, SPE, Tendeka, and Bjarne Bugten, Equinor, prepared for the 2018 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, 12–14 November.

Field Trial of Cloud-Connected Wireless Completion System

01 January 2020

Volume: 72 | Issue: 1

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