Downhole inflow control devices allow for the flexible operation of nonconventional wells. They provide the ability to independently control each branch of a multilateral well and can therefore be used to maximize oil production or to minimize the production of unwanted water or gas. In this paper, a method for the optimization of the operation of smart wells; i.e., wells containing downhole sensors and inflow control devices, is presented and applied. The method entails the use of a conjugate gradient optimization technique applied in conjunction with a commercial reservoir simulator that contains a detailed multisegment well model. The overall optimization technique is applied to several example problems involving different types of wells and geological models as well as multiple geostatistical realizations. The improvement in predicted performance using inflow control devices, which is as high as 65% in one case, is demonstrated for all of the examples considered. There is, however, significant variation in the level of improvement attainable using these devices, so sophisticated decision-making techniques may be required when considering their use in practice.

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