In 2014, a first permanent installation of a fibre-optic (FO) distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) system was piloted in a tight gas well in Northern British Columbia. The project had three goals; to permanently monitor flow rates along the entire well bore, to make that information available to collaborative teams worldwide in real-time and to advance the system for future installations.
In oil and gas field development there is often a lack of frequent quality well and reservoir surveillance (WRS) data for quality decision making; leaving significant reservoir or well performance uncertainties potentially leading to suboptimal reservoir development. The need for frequent and good quality surveillance data is highest in complex reservoir developments such as unconventional plays, water-flooded reservoirs, thermal and chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery projects.
Often, well surveillance data is not acquired in practice because of concerns associated with production deferment, costs & logistics, HSE exposure or because it creates operational risks associated with well interventions when using conventional logging methods.
The attractiveness of FO-based surveillance lies with the fact that once the passive FO cable has been installed, no subsequent well interventions are required to collect downhole data; allowing for continuous (long-term) measurements or repeated measurements as and when required while eliminating the concerns associated with conventional logging methods.
The pilot system deployed at the well site is continuously measuring and recording qualitative and quantitative flow information. Using a secure web browser, the asset team can access the real-time and historical data when required or share with collaborative teams worldwide. The pilot has helped identify where improvements can be made in the enabling Distributed Sensing infrastructure such as handling and evaluation of the large data volumes, seamless data transfer, the robustness of the system installation and the overall integration of data into the full workflows. It will take further development of the system to implement all these improvements, but it is clear that FO based applications will play a key role in future well and reservoir surveillance.
This paper presents the system architecture and details the lessons learnt in designing, commissioning and running this system including the extraction of low data rate, actionable, qualitative data from distributed fibre-optic sensors and the IT challenges of creating a reliable, permanently installed system.