Formation damage and reservoir attributes can only be effectively evaluated with high quality, pertinent data. Underbalanced operations require a complex array of techniques that enable data to be effectively collated and managed. With the further advent of networking technologies the real-time transmission of this data is also now a viable option, leading to a myriad of benefits from accurate diagnosis and evaluation to real-time planning. This paper aims to describe data acquisition in underbalanced operations, commencing with a conventional acquisition setup, moving to a real-time operational case study.

Underbalanced data acquisition has its roots in the traditional well testing setup, with the basic surface separator being standard. But due to the complexity of the operation many specializations and innovative modifications have been implemented, making it an entity in itself. The paper describes a typical underbalanced data acquisition setup. It then traverses to the latest high technology realm of real-time acquisition and transmission, which enables data to be acquired in the field and transmitted directly to the client's office. System setup, architecture (client – server) and limitations will be discussed and evaluated. The advantages of real-time data acquisition will be shown as well as current caveats and possible conceptual technological innovation to overcome these limitations.

The future of underbalanced data acquisition is also taking a fundamental shift. Its amalgamation with the data analysis fields (i.e. non-simple processing) is leading to a fundamental shift in acquisition setups. These trends will be examined along with challenges and current industry direction.

In the underbalanced sphere, the marriage between data collection and transmission within a real-time framework plays a vital role in optimizing results. In the past, data acquisition design and implementation has been relegated to the last phase of many operations. This paper aims to bring data acquisition, its current direction and setup to the forefront. Formation damage and ultimately recovery are important entities, but it is only with good quality data, available in a timely manner, that these can be representatively evaluated and the well understood.

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