Technological advances are enabling the completion phase of well construction to evolve from interpreting surface-measured pressure and load charts to more direct communication for determining downhole activity and wellbore conditions. Bi-directional acoustic telemetry provides a method for communicating with downhole tools in real-time, where commands can be given to trigger an operational activity in lieu of traditional mechanical means, such as dropping a ball and building pressure, and in addition receive feedback that the activity has occurred.

While current completion methods have been successful using pressure and applied mechanical loads to actuate tools, there are certain scenarios where operations are difficult to execute and it can be challenging to confirm that a piece of equipment has functioned as desired. There are environmental conditions, such as high deviations and s-shaped wellbore geometry, which can be prohibitive to tasks such as getting an activating ball to gravitate to bottom and land on its seat. Using bi-directional acoustic telemetry can eliminate the need for these manual manipulations.

The aforementioned scenario has long been an issue for wells requiring sand control where the completion design might dictate deploying screens into an openhole horizontal wellbore section, performing a gravel pack for wellbore stability, and reducing the production of fines. With the growth of Extended Reach Drilling (ERD), this problem has become more common. This paper discusses adoption of proven bi-directional acoustic telemetry as a method to reduce completion time and remove some of the uncertainty in completing a well. The signal can be transmitted through the drillpipe by use of repeaters that allow for communication to extended depths. When setting a packer, receipt of the command at the hydrostatically operated setting tool triggers the setting tool to function. As a result, the packer at the top of the lower completion sets and the screens become anchored at the desired location. Bi-directional communication allows for confirmation at the surface that the signal was received and the tool properly triggered. This telemetry can further be used during the gravel packing operations to get near real-time temperature and pressure readings from washpipe gauges housed within the screen assembly.

The example documented in this paper is a novel method of deploying a gravel pack system with a bi-directional, acoustic through pipe telemetry within completion tools now in development. This method provides a platform for real-time control and monitoring in the completion environment.

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