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White Paper

March 2019

Permanent Downhole Monitoring – Towards

the Intelligent, Multistage Completion
White Paper
Downhole Monitoring March 2019

Whether it be supporting production activities, measuring

In this paper, we look at the latest advances multiphase flow rates downhole, or tackling the twin
in downhole monitoring and communication threats of sand and corrosion, downhole monitoring today
systems - bridging the information gap is providing operators with increased insight and control
between the lower and upper completion and over their reservoir operations and improved production.
delivering an intelligent, integrated, multi- Downhole pressure gauges, for example, can help
stage monitoring system across the whole operators control reservoir performance by monitoring
completion. injected fluids to sustain pressures, determine optimal
production rates when there are sand or water concerning
issues, and clarify how artificial lift systems are performing.
Introduction - New Designs, New Challenges
In addition, the advent of permanent downhole gauges
The last decade has seen significant innovations in well has led to an understandable focus on reliability,
designs and completions with the emergence of advanced robustness and redundancy. Emerson’s quartz crystal
multi-zone, intelligent and multi-lateral wells. gauges, for example, have been transmitting data
uninterrupted for nearly 30 years on Statoil’s Gullfaks C
Yet, along with these innovations come new challenges reservoir in the North Sea 2.
when it comes to downhole monitoring. These challenges
include: As well as downhole monitoring, there are also
Production Logging Tools (PLT) – run in completed
• The length of such wells; the environmental conditions wells to analyze fluids in or around the borehole during
they operate in; and the difficulties of accessing production or injection. Whereas production logging traces
diagnostic pressure and temperature data and anything its origins back to the 1930s and the measurement of
more than a snapshot of flow contributions wellbore temperature, it was not long before pressure,
fluid density, flow velocity and more were also measured
• The limitation of monitoring temperature and pressure
through PLT.
in such wells through cabled instruments

• The difficulties, costs and risks of intervention through The Challenges of Data Collection in
traditional production logging tools, with the pressures Advanced Wells
on personnel and equipment
Yet, just as permanent downhole monitoring and
• The difficulties of sourcing accurate, multi-zone production logging has advanced, so have the demands
information from the sand face – the physical interface put upon them, as wells become more and more
between formation and wellbore – and the lower sophisticated. Such advances include:
• The rise in deviated and horizontal wells, leading to
The result is highly expensive but sub-optimal well and multiple zones, complex flow regimes and downhole
reservoir management. Typical examples could be flowing measurement challenges. Today multilateral wells with
a well from only a short section of the sand face or compartments of varying pressure and extended-reach
selecting an inappropriate remedial action when faced drilling (ERD) with wellbores as long as 12 km are
with poor well performance. With the availability of becoming increasingly common.
sandface data, these challenges can be avoided, and
insights can be gained into key productivity parameters – • The rise in ever more remote and challenging
for example, optimum well length, skin factors and conditions. As a result of deeper and more complex
causes of damage. wells, operators are demanding ever more intelligent
completion systems.
The Evolution of Downhole Monitoring
Solutions • The rise in intelligent completions and smart wells
(see separate box) that provide the potential for
Downhole data acquisition systems are essential to real-time zonal downhole monitoring of pressures and
reservoir monitoring and have been a key feature of temperatures; remotely monitor and control inflow
oil & gas operations for many years, with the practice of from different zones; and can subsequently reduce
using bottomhole pressure measurements beginning as well intervention costs, accelerate production, reduce
early as the 1930’s and permanent gauges having been CAPEX/OPEX, and increase ultimate recovery.
in operation since the 1960’s1.
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White Paper
Downhole Monitoring March 2019

Intelligent Completions – Some Examples

• The Al-Shaheen field offshore Qatar is currently being developed by Maersk Oil and Gas (MOG) using
large-scale water injection on very long horizontal wells. Smart well technology is combining monitoring and
control capabilities with multi-segment completions in order to optimize flooding mechanisms. The results
showed that optimization with smart well technology can significantly improve recovery and reduce water
and gas circulation under varying conditions of reservoir heterogeneity.
• An intelligent well completion, DIACS (Downhole Instrumentation And Control System) has been applied to
the Snorre field by Statoil (now Equinor) to selectively produce from and inject in the individual reservoirs.
Permanent downhole pressure and temperature monitoring is employed in individual zones to ensure
better reservoir understanding, production optimization and increased possibilities for well diagnostics.
(Source: Statoil (Equinor) Well Informed Magazine, June 2009).
• Shell/BP’s ultra deep water Na Kika field development in the Gulf of Mexico used intelligent completions
that provide the ability to remotely monitor and control inflow from different zones. It was agreed that
“intelligent well design from the sandface to the surface must be approached from a system perspective,
taking into consideration installation and operational requirements, limitations, and desired functionality.”

- ‘Optimization of the Al-Shaheen Field Performance using Smart Well Technology’, Gelderblom D, AES/PE/10-22.
July 2010
- Statoil (Equinor) Well Informed Magazine, June 2009
- ‘Na Kika Smart Wells Design and Construction’, Stair C, Shell, Dawson M, Halliburton, Suresh J, WellDynamics,
Darrell H, Consultant, AAPG 2004

So, how has production logging and downhole monitoring Finally, the need to mobilize service company personnel
managed to address these issues? and equipment comes with a cost and risk, with the need
to traverse the logging tools meaning that measurements
In the case of PTL, while they may be accurate and are made at lower flow rates than normal and only provide
effective for vertical wells with high fluid flow rates, and a snapshot of flow contributions. Other risk factors include
for deviated and horizontal wells with stratified, well accessibility, completion IDs, the availability of wireline
multiphase flow, such data isn’t always as reliable. In and coiled tubing equipment, and, of course, the length of
horizontal laterals, for example, where the logged section the horizontal lateral.
is sometimes 20 times longer compared to vertical
wells, added complications include the deviation and When it comes to permanent downhole monitoring, while
accessibility of the wellbore and changes in fluid velocity downhole gauges are a crucial element of intelligent
moving past or through the tools. The periodic running of completions per the examples highlighted above, there
such tools can also sometimes fail to paint a full picture are also challenges. In complex, hard-to-reach reservoirs
of pressure and temperature in the reservoir. and tighter formations, for example, operators need to
maximize reservoir contact in every well to optimize
reservoir drainage and minimize lifting costs.

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White Paper
Downhole Monitoring March 2019

correlation to the reservoir datum level. In such cases,

there is a defined reservoir datum level (depth) and all
pressure data is corrected to that depth for comparison 4.




Figure 1 – Roxar HS Series Gauges and Mandrel 8SSHU/RZHU


The Upper and Lower Completion

The Upper Completion is the connection from $UHDRI
the lower completion to the wellhead and ,QWHUHVW
includes the tubing and all other accessories
that allow the well to flow. The Lower
Completion interacts with the formation that
Figure 2 – Example Downhole Monitoring installation
the operator produces from and is usually
finished with a packer at the top to isolate the
lower completion from the wellbore. The lack of downhole data is exacerbated in horizontal
wells (where the horizontal part in the reservoir can be
over 3,000 meters) with multiple zones, where the required
pressure data is in the individual reservoir zone, but the
And yet, much monitoring equipment is installed above actual measurements are usually made some distance
the production packer and thus is unable to provide away and need to be corrected.
insights into the dynamic changes in the reservoir and
Furthermore, when it comes to intelligent completions,
the high costs and risks of obtaining such sand face data
there are still information gaps with a lack of real-time
often limits system deployment. In a 2009 SPE paper,
measurements in individual producing zones as well as
the authors explore issues that may arise from gauge
in the lower completion. There is also a need for more
placement in the borehole based on ‘imperfect data
information to fully diagnose zonal issues without resorting
influenced by wellbore effects’ and the fact that ‘a pressure
to traditional costly and time-consuming interventions.
gauge is often placed hundreds of feet away from the
In the SPE 107268 paper already cited, the authors argue
point of fluid entry 3.’
that ideally pressure gauges should be placed as close
In deeper wells, there are also the challenges of sourcing to perforation as possible to ensure that data remains
diagnostic data from the lower completion (sand face, ‘unaffected by thermal effects, friction in the tubing below
reservoir section). In figure 1, for example, the HS gauge the perforations and the gauge and phase segregation
is set at around 4,000 meters depth but is still 1,500 during shut-ins .’
meters above the reservoir.
There are clearly certain areas downhole in the lower
The operator is therefore still having to make completion that are not generating sufficient data and that
approximations on the pressure 1,500 meters deeper. there is a lack of integration between the upper and lower
While 4,000 meters is certainty better than taking pressure completions. The rest of this paper will look at how this is
measurements at the wellhead, there are still likely to be being redressed and the ‘enablers’ that are allowing this
errors in the correction from density variations, such as to be achieved. Firstly, wireless technologies.
gas bubbles or slugs and from friction, turbulence and
other factors that prevent accurate correction and

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White Paper
Downhole Monitoring March 2019

The Emergence of Wireless – A Potential

Game Changer?
Wireless communications have become an essential
technology that can significantly reduce the complexity
and costs associated with wired solutions as well as Figure 3 – Roxar Matrix Downhole Wireless Interface™
opening up areas previously considered inaccessible.

A number of wireless communications solutions for The Results – Enhanced Knowledge-Based

the downhole environment have become commercially Well and Reservoir Management
available over the last two decades, mainly split into
particle and wave communication modes. There are The Intelligent Multistage Completion Network provides
advantages and limitations to all. Ultrasonic waves, significant benefits to operators and addresses a series of
for example, are ideal for long range downhole current customer challenges when it comes to downhole
communications but limitations include the large size monitoring. These consist of:
of the transducers at relatively low frequencies as
• A permanent gauge installation providing life-of-the-well
well as sensitivity to the turbidity, ambient noise,
data and cost-effective and low risk access to diagnostics
salinity, and pressure gradients .
data from the reservoir section of a well. The Intelligent
Many of the biggest wireless telemetry advances, Multistage Completion Network is a compelling alternative
however, have occurred in acoustic telemetry, in which to traditional production logging, wireline, coil tubing and
acoustic signals are sent through the tubing string. other cable-based downhole solutions, with their
Acoustic waves are mechanical waves that are widely accompanying risk, costs and logistics.
utilized in downhole communications solutions today
• Detailed reservoir data and control, and an improved
and form a central element of the Intelligent Multistage
understanding of well performance issues and the ability
Completion Network™.
to select the correct types of intervention. No longer will
operators have to make do without having diagnostic data
Introducing the Intelligent Multistage
from the lower completion (sand face, reservoir section).
Completion NetworkTM
• The ability to generate pressure and temperature data
Yet, how can wireless-based monitoring technologies from multiple reservoir sands in a pilot hole – something
be applied to integrate the upper and lower completions that was previously not possible – leading to improved
under one monitoring solution? understanding of reservoir drainage.
It’s my belief that a truly intelligent completion involves • Real-time flow data without having to reduce flow rates
understanding formation behavior, diagnosing data in and without the limitations of intervention-based systems
real-time, and understanding and wirelessly managing
multi-zonal contributions without the need for packer • The fast and seamless installation of the interface to the
penetrations or wired connectors, and without network with no need for additional penetrators (wet
intervention. mates, connectors, tubing for fiber etc.) to go through the
defined well barriers (thereby significantly reducing risk)
How it works and no additional hardware requirements to the topside
Emerson is an industry leader of cabled permanent or subsea control system.
downhole gauges dominant in the upper completion. From a broader reservoir-wide perspective, the results
Metrol is a leader in wireless telemetry systems that can consist of increased production and ultimate recovery
transmit and collect pressure data throughout the entirety elective zonal control and the pre-empting of production
of the completion - from remote sections of a horizontal challenges and reduced operating expenditures through
section and anywhere in between. an end to costly interventions.
Installation of the system is simple with no need for Downhole monitoring has come a long way over the past
additional penetrators to go through the defined well decades. The introduction of online integrated wireless-
barriers and no additional hardware requirements to based downhole monitoring for both the upper and lower
the topside or subsea control system. completion remains an important milestone in this journey.

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White Paper
Downhole Monitoring March 2019

Figure 4 – Overview of the Intelligent Multistage Completion Network

References 4
Nestlerode WA, “The Use of Pressure Data from correcting_pressure_to_a_datum.aspx
Permanently Installed Bottom Hole Pressure Gauges”, 5
‘Placement of Permanent Downhole Pressure
SPE Paper 590; May 1963 Sensors in Reservoir Surveillance’, Izgec B, Cribbs
Subsea UK, M, Pace S, Zhu D, Kabir C, SPE 107268, 20091
downhole-gauge-racks-up-21-years-of-uninterrupted- Nestlerode WA, “The Use of Pressure Data from
use. While the article was published in 2011, the gauges Permanently Installed Bottom Hole Pressure
are still in operation in 2019 Gauges”, SPE Paper 590; May 1963
‘Placement of Permanent Downhole Pressure Sensors 6
‘Review of Downhole Wireless Communications
in Reservoir Surveillance’, Izgec B, Cribbs M, Pace S, Techniques’, Arsalan M, Ahmad T, Noul Mehidi N,
Zhu D, Kabir C, SPE 107268, 2009 Saudi Aramco, SPE-171706-MS, 2014

For further information on Emerson’s downhole

monitoring solutions and the Intelligent Multistage
Completion Network, visit

Written by Bob Kettle,

Emerson Automation Solutions

Emerson Automation Solutions

Gamle Forusveien 17,
4031 Stavanger, Norway

T + 47 51 81 88 00

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