Well-SENSE, a part of the Aberdeen-based FrontRow innovation group, has developed a new single-use well monitor. FrontRow was established to invest in oil and gas technologies, by Graeme Coutts, previously CEO of Expro.
Well-SENSE has already developed electronic and optical sensors that capture well data as the fibre is pulled down-hole by a disposable probe.
Active FLI adds a range of discrete measurement devices to WellSENSE’s probe, including a casing collar locator, which magnetically detects and counts each casing joint as an aid to depth measurement. FLI’s sensors measure single point temperatures and pressures, and provide depth correlation while the probe descends at a speed of around eight feet (2.4 metres) per second.
The FLI system uses bare single-use fibre optic line directly in the well, which dissolves downhole after the data has been captured. The probe is also disposable and left in the well. The fibre (usually a triple string) is capable of gathering data along its length in addition to transmitting data back to surface from measurement devices attached to it.
InnovOil spoke with CEO Craig Feherty and technology director Dan Purkis about what FLI and Active-FLI is capable of.
Feherty explained how FLI works: “[With] bare fibre in the well you can take distributed measurements of acoustics and temperature along the length of the fibre simultaneously… essentially using the fibre itself as a sensor.”
“With Active-FLI, we have added electronic and optical sensors which measure temperature, pressure and flow sensing to the probe at the end of the fibre so we can take additional readings as it travels downhole. These effectively create an advanced production logging tool, and a distributed data verification tool.”
WellSENSE uses low grade telecoms fibre, which only needs to last long enough to capture the target data. This makes the system lightweight, portable, and operable by one person.
“If you change characteristics of the way the well is flowing, or you want to monitor the whole length of the well in one go, to do that in wireline you need to take multiple passes going up and down,” Feherty explained. “But of course, you’re not capturing like for like data, because your measurement point is moving.”
FLI collects data simultaneously along the whole cable, allowing the operator to see the whole effect of what’s happening in the wellbore across the whole length of the well. Active-FLI adds single-point measurements to the data flow. Telemetry is transmitted up the FLI fibre line also in real time.
Making the system single-use (it is left in the well after use, not recovered) cuts costs by up to 80%. “For a simple wireline log, like a temperature profile, you can be looking at around US$20,000,” Feherty said, “but for advanced measurements, that goes all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. By comparison, the same operation with more data would be a tenth of that cost for us.”
Deployment is also made much easier. A smaller crew is needed (at the extreme, a single operator) and there is no heavy equipment. “It can go into a chopper, onto the back of rig boat, in the back of a pickup truck, in the back of your car,” says Feherty.
FLI also expects to find a new market in older brownfield wells, where a traditional wireline intervention is too expensive to pay back. “There’s room for more production coming from those reservoirs, but you need to understand what’s going on,” Feherty says.
Well-SENSE has been working on adding a video camera to Active-FLI. “Normally, a downhole camera is going to take you three to five years to develop and cost you several million pounds,” Purkis said. “We’re using a webcam, which costs £50. It took us two months to integrate it to work over the fibre. It only works for a few hours, but we only need it to work for a few hours. Everybody else needs theirs to work for 10 years.”
Well-SENSE’s parent, FrontRow, raised £10 million (US$13 million) in new investment from the Business Growth Fund in November 2018, adding to the £8 million (US$10.4 million) invested in the company by its founding shareholders.
FrontRow was set up by Graeme Coutts and is led by Stuart Ferguson, former CTO at Weatherford. Other Frontrow principals include Colin Smith, who sold Petrowell to Weatherford in 2012, and Frank Summers, who ran the Simmons Fund 1 leading investments in Red Spider Technology, Xodus and EFC. Well-SENSE also received an undisclosed investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures in July 2018.