With the maturity of and demand for fiber-optic sensing technology growing steadily over the last few years across multiple basins, operators are seeking fiber-optic sensing solutions that address the technology challenges associated with the life-of-field monitoring of subsea developments. Single-ended distributed temperature sensing (DTS) measurements have been acquired for decades now, typically using Raman optical time-domain reflectometry (OTDR) on multimode fiber.
However, for topside interrogation of subsea completions, Raman DTS performs poorly. This is due to the available optical power budget and the potential wavelength dependency of optical attenuation across multiple connectors and splices comprising the optical subsea infrastructure. Any wavelength-dependent attenuation as the signals pass through connectors, splices, and optical feedthrough systems will generate step changes in the measured Raman DTS temperature profile. Brillouin OTDR can provide a DTS alternative that overcomes these challenges and operates on single-mode fiber.
Brillouin OTDR operates with a large dynamic range to measure a wavelength (frequency) shift of the Stokes/anti-Stokes components that is proportional to both strain and temperature. Since downhole cables are manufactured with optical fibers suspended in a gel and with appropriate extra fiber length (EFL), any fiber strain relaxes, and the Brillouin wavelength shift is an absolute temperature measurement.
An additional alternative is also explored here. We typically associate coherent Rayleigh OTDR with distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) on single-mode fibers, but low frequencies also contain a relative temperature dependence. The low-pass filtering of DAS data can then be used as a form of Rayleigh DTS with appropriate data processing.
In this paper, we report on a comparison of Raman, Brillouin, and Rayleigh DTS simultaneously acquired in the same high-rate producer and injector wells. We validate that, with appropriate cable design, Brillouin DTS can be simultaneously operated on the same single-mode fiber with DAS and can deliver absolute temperature measurements suitable for production analysis. We also use a laboratory experiment to show that Rayleigh DTS provides an accurate measure of temperature changes comparable in precision to a traditional thermocouple. We conclude with a discussion about the implementation of this DAS-DTS solution for sensing subsea completions.