The number of inflow control technologies, predominantly organized into passive inflow control devices (PICDs) and inflow control valves (ICVs), are rapidly increasing. The inflow control device (ICD) level of autonomy, or ability to automatically choke back unwanted fluid flow, is also considered when classifying the device, creating a sub-category of PICDs known as autonomous inflow control devices (AICDs). These distinctions can often cause confusion, and currently there is no agreement about the metrics for judging the performance of an ICD. This confusion negatively affects the industry's ability to identify application-specific criteria and deliver fit-for-purpose ICDs.
A recent collaboration has demonstrated the potential for designating ICDs to meet a specific application's unique requirements. When the preferred flow characteristics are identified in advance, these preferences guide the design, testing, and qualification process. In this instance, the needs of cyclic steam stimulation were met by a viscosity-insensitive, autonomous device that was tailored to this particular application. The design included different options of an inflow control mechanism and a wide range of flow resistance settings.
As flow control technologies continue to gain industry acceptance as an effective means of balancing reservoir inflow, understanding the categorization and corresponding design process becomes critical. Because there are no current industry standards for ICD design, this paper should serve as guidance for industry personnel to identify flow control requirements and deliver a suitable solution.