Well-SENSE Technologies discusses recent field trials of its disposable FibreLine Intervention tool, aimed at improving the scope and reducing the cost of DAS surveys
One of the stand-out innovations we saw last year was the FibreLine Intervention (FLI) concept, developed by Aberdeen-based Well-SENSE Technologies. Its inventor, Dan Purkis, was evangelical with regard to the possibilities – and cost reduction – it offered in performing well inspection and intervention.
FLI is a range of dissolvable intervention tools, deployed into the well on a single fibre-optic cable. Its housing is based on a biodegradable polymer and water-soluble metal alloys, meaning it can be used and abandoned in the well, where it dissolves in a matter of days. Its deployment into the well via a surface-connected fibre-optic line allows it to freefall into the well and dissolve, avoiding one of the biggest risks in standard intervention jobs – tools becoming stuck in hole – and preventing costly down time and fishing operations. When InnovOil spoke with Purkis in spring 2016, the concept had been realised and the team was about to embark on a new phase of testing and development. Now according to Well-SENSE, the past six months have seen the system “exceed expectations” during field trials in a test well in Montrose, which have proved that fibre optics can be repeatedly and reliably retrofitted into a well using the FLI system.
The company’s solutions and support director Paul Higginson explained to InnovOil: “We have performed various workshop tests to understand the performance of fibre optics when being spooled and de-spooled and have a design which is very robust and reliable in terms of deployment of the fibre into oil and gas wells.” The result has been some fine tuning of the design, and qualification of the FLI’s most pressing use.
In particular, these tests have qualified the use of FLI for distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) surveys using the installed fibre-optic line, and produced “extremely promising results” Higginson said. Currently DAS is either installed as a permanent system as part of the well completion, or temporarily installed and retrieved by a truck-mounted spooling system (similar to coil tubing and electric line). Both are expensive, largely because of installation time and/or capital equipment costs. The company says that a dissolvable FLI system would slash both, enabling DAS to be economical in a far greater number of wells.
Active FLI – another side to the concept, where the system will contain active payloads such as cameras or sensors – has also been refined, he added. “Sensors are placed within the body of the tool and used to perform discrete, rather than distributed, measurements. Some very exciting workshop testing has been performed on our Active FLI system but unfortunately I cannot divulge any details about that. For now, I can say they illustrate the adaptability and levels of performance that a system like FLI can provide.”
Testing, testing Commenting on the success of last year’s trials, Purkis said: “We are positive that the technology will offer vast benefits to operators; not least because it’s cost-effective and disposable, allowing for it to be utilised on wells where other methods of installing fibre optics may have been deemed economically unviable.” That said, working with disruptive technologies also presents its fair share of hurdles in a notoriously conservative industry. Paul explained: “There is a lot of interest, talk and good will, [but] it has to be said we waste a lot of time going down dead ends in organisations which can’t seem to decide if they are on board with new technology or not. We are not the only ones saying this: all small to medium technology developers in oil and gas are finding it very difficult to get the right type of assistance from industry.” Nevertheless, 2017 will certainly be another busy – and hopefully fruitful – year for Well-SENSE. The team is now aiming to commercialise the technology and move it forward by working with key industry players in the well intervention market. Higginson also promised “other technology developments” which have yet to be detailed – watch this space.
To do that, however, more partners are needed. Well-SENSE is still looking for new opportunities and applications for the technology, Purkis commented, stating: “To realise the full benefits of FLI, collaboration with other technology providers will be key to its ongoing development – we’re keen to ensure the best technology is implemented from the start.” Interested technology developers should get in touch.