Case Study: First Intelligent Completion System Installed in the Gulf of Mexico
- V.B. Jackson Nielsen (WellDynamics Inc.) | T.R. Tips (WellDynamics Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- March 2003
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 50 - 58
- 2003. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 2.3 Completion Monitoring Systems/Intelligent Wells, 2.2.2 Perforating, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.6 Frac and Pack, 1.8 Formation Damage, 2 Well Completion, 3.2.2 Downhole intervention and remediation (including wireline and coiled tubing), 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 2.7.1 Completion Fluids, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.4.5 Gravel pack design & evaluation, 2.2.3 Fluid Loss Control, 4.1.7 Electrical Systems, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 4.5.7 Controls and Umbilicals, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 7.3.3 Project Management
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To maintain profitability in the development of marginal fields, many new technologies and concepts have been exploited. One of the most promising technologies has been the "Intelligent Well Concept," which allows the operator to produce, monitor, and control the production of hydrocarbons through remotely operated completion systems. These systems are developed with techniques that allow the well architecture to be reconfigured at will and real-time data to be acquired without any well intervention. This paper concerns a case history in the Gulf of Mexico in which an operator was able to justify completion of marginal wells based on the cost savings generated from innovative technologies.
The completion methods chosen for this development were successful because of careful preplanning for all phases of the completion scenario and proved that close interaction among all suppliers and parties involved in the actual equipment purchasing, interface issues, and all operational strategies is critical for project success. These topics will be discussed in depth later. Detailed test programs were implemented during the design and manufacturing processes to eliminate field failures. In this case, testing revealed system issues that ultimately led to the use of an alternative design.
Also shown is the importance of allowing the proper time to adequately plan and test these systems for their specific applications to assure delivery of a design that can meet the functional requirements for that application. In this case, although the system design was changed, the original functional goals were met. Two wells in this field were completed with intelligent completion technology in April and July 1999.
This case history details the first field in the Gulf of Mexico in which intelligent completion technology was used. The field is located offshore in 3,300 ft of water approximately 120 miles south of New Orleans. The field comprises sand units that are vertically and laterally discontinuous across the breadth of the field. With the need for multiple take points in the layered reservoir system, the operator developed a depletion plan that described the order in which different zones would be accessed to maximize both reserves and upfront production. Table 1 details key reservoir parameters.
It was recognized early on that lower overall cost solutions were needed to develop this field because of its marginal reserves. Many innovative techniques, from the incorporation of a minitension- leg platform (TLP) to unique pipeline systems were planned, and it was felt that the use of intelligent completion systems could maximize field development. Fig. 1 shows an intelligent well configuration in this field.
The wells were completed with stacked gravel packs to produce two independent zones. The intelligent completion allowed the operator to monitor the pressure and temperature in either zone and to produce from the lower zone, the upper zone, both zones, or neither. The wells were completed in different sands to optimize current well location and to maximize producing and sustainable production rates.
The zones were completed during the original completion phase with the intelligent completion system run as part of the production-tubing string. This minimized/eliminated the need for future well interventions to initiate changes in either producing interval.
As stated earlier, the use of intelligent completion technology requires a different type of preplanning, more involved than "conventional" completion work.1 The intelligent completion directly affects the subsea interface, tubing hanger, umbilical to the production vessel or platform, topsides, and the permanent completion itself. Thus, it is important to start in-depth planning early in the life of the project to effectively interface multiple systems.
In this case history, project planning for the intelligent completion system began a year and a half before installation. The intelligent completion used was an electrohydraulic system. It should be noted that the electrohydraulic system can require more interface consideration than pure hydraulic or electrical systems. Table 2 details the system - platform, subsea, and intelligent completion - employed in this field application. Following are the details associated with the various options that could have been employed for the system and why this option was chosen vs. another alternative.
Direct Umbilical Subsea Interface.
A seamless interface for controlling subsea systems can be created with the use of a direct umbilical with dedicated electric and hydraulic lines from the production platform. A direct hydraulic system was used because the wells are a short distance from the field surface facility. A direct umbilical from the platform was connected to each template, and the individual wells were then connected to the templates. The direct umbilical requires less interface work than a subsea control system and is used in applications in which the wells are clustered around one or several points or in which all the wells are near the production vessel or platform.
To control subsea systems with direct hydraulic umbilicals, it is important to note the type of umbilical specified. The density of the hydraulic fluid for the intelligent completion system will affect the required burst and collapse ratings. The oil-based fluids, having a lower specific gravity than the water-based ones, require higher collapse-resistant umbilicals. The other factor directly affecting the intelligent completion system is the type of umbilical - flexible thermoplastic hose or stainless steel/incoloy-type line. The flexible umbilicals have nonlinear expansion characteristics and can make valve characterization and precise movement more difficult, though adequate techniques have been developed for the short umbilical lengths used in the case described.
The use of a direct umbilical for long distances can be both costly and inefficient as the line loss on the electric lines becomes inhibiting and the response time on the hydraulic lines becomes unacceptable. In these instances or when the wells are scattered throughout a large area, the use of an electrohydraulic subsea control system may be more cost efficient and design effective.
Electrohydraulic Subsea Control System.
An alternative method for controlling an intelligent completion is through the use of a subsea control system.2 An electrohydraulic umbilical is run from the master control station (MCS) to a control system subsea. Power (both electric and hydraulic) and communication are transmitted subsea via an electrohydraulic umbilical before being "split off" to individual wellheads or production manifolds.
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