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UpstreamOnline.com: Shell’s smart wells provide competitive edge inWest Siberia

By Upstream staff

Shell plans to use so called “smart wells” on the Vadelyp oilfield, one of the three West Siberia oilfields being developed by Salym Petroleum Development (SPD), the joint venture in which the supermajor holds a 50% stake, writes Vladimir Afanasiev.

According to Shell Technology exploration and production director John Darley, smart wells will allow downhole processing of fluids, such as separation and compression, and flow, pressure and temperature measurement and control.

Such wells offer the possibility to respond to changing conditions downhole.

“It is not the new technology in itself, but rather innovative ways of combining existing state-of-the-art technologies such as wireless communication, remote sensing capabilities, remote control mechanisms and robotic tools,” Darley wrote in a recent article.

SPD chief executive Dale Rollins says the company will drill 20 to 30 smart wells on the Vadelyp field and “we will see how it goes”. “There are opportunities to expand this technology to the wells we will drill on the West Salym and Upper Salym oilfields”, he says.

He adds that there are a couple of reasons why the joint venture wants to drill smart wells, the simplest of which is to measure the flow from each formation.

This is required under Russian law, which rules that a company can produce only from one zone at a time from one well, as the flow is measured on the surface.

However, unlike ordinary probes, smart wells have downhole meters, “so you are able to produce from two zones at the same time using a single well”, Rollins says. “You either save the cost of a well or produce one interval much earlier than you would have done otherwise.”

The second reason for using smart wells “is more complex”, he adds. Smart wells give field managers more information to manage reservoir flows. It is possible to see how one formation’s flow affects another, the pressure drop on one well against the another, where water comes in around the flanks of the field.

“This is typical reservoir engineering but with much more information, much more interconnection, and it requires more computing, which is why it is new technology,” Rollins says.

SPD is planning to have two smart wells on the Vadelyp field by the end of this year, along with six oridinary probes, with drilling under way since the end of last month.

The company is also planning to build nine wellpads at Vadelyp, where more than 100 production and injection wells are to be drilled.

Peak oil production from the field is expected to reach 24,000 barrels per day.

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