This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 207466, “A Review of Downhole Wireless Technologies and Improvements,” by Brett Bouldin, SPE, Wireless Instrumentation Systems, and Ahmed AlShmakhy, SPE, and Ahmed Khaled Bazuhair, SPE, ADNOC, et al. The paper has not been peer reviewed.

Downhole wireless communication through mud-pulse telemetry has enabled directional drilling for decades and has been highly successful. But on the production end of the industry, applications for downhole wireless communication have been less clear, especially where long distances and long-term monitoring are concerned. In the complete paper, a history and comparison of wireless telemetry methods is provided and potential improvements to existing systems are discussed.

Background

Downhole wireless gauges for production monitoring can be likened to permanent downhole gauges (PDGs). PDGs are the standard for production monitoring in the industry, but they have the drawback of increased capital expense and a system failure rate of approximately 10% after 10 years, depending on downhole and surface conditions. The failure rate of the gauges themselves is generally 2–3% at 5 years, so downhole umbilicals, connectors, and surface infrastructure problems generally comprise the remainder. Because PDG-system repair would involve a full well workover, failed PDGs tend to remain nonfunctional indefinitely or until a greater purpose for the workover is encountered. While the loss of monitoring information is regretted by production and reservoir engineers, it does not justify a well workover on its own. One solution is a retrofit wireless gauge run inside the production tubing.

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