Horizontal and multilateral completions are a proven, superior development option compared to conventional solutions in many reservoir situations. However, they are still susceptible to coning toward the heel of the well despite their maximizing of reservoir contact. This is due to frictional pressure drop and/or permeability variations along the well. Annular flow, leading to severe erosion "hot-spots" and plugging of screens is another challenge. Inflow Control Devices (ICDs) were proposed as a solution to these difficulties in the early ‘90s. ICDs have recently gained popularity and are being increasingly applied to a wider range of field types. Their efficacy to control the well inflow profile has been confirmed by a variety of field monitoring techniques.
An ICD is a choking device installed as part of the sandface completion hardware. It aims to balance the horizontal well's inflow profile and minimize the annular flow at the cost of a limited, extra pressure drop. Fractured and more heterogeneous formations require, in addition, the installation of annular isolation. The new technologies of Swell Packers and Constrictors can provide this annular isolation in an operationally simple manner.
This paper describes the history of ICD development with an emphasis on the designs available and their areas of application. These technical criteria will be illustrated using published field examples. The ICD's flexibility will be shown by its integration with other conventional and advanced production technologies e.g. Stand-Alone-Screens, annular isolation, artificial lift, gravel packs and intelligent completions in both horizontal and multilateral wells.
It will be shown how the value of such well-construction options can be quantified using commercially available, modelling simulators. Simple, but reliable, guidelines on how to model the performance of ICDs over the well's life will be provided. This technique can thus be used as part of the value quantification process for both the evaluation of completion options and for their detailed design.