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Wellbore monitoring to identify constituents of multiphase flow during extraction

For the oil and gas industry, efficiency is the key parameter when pumping valuable fluids from the ground. Maximising production is often a battle against the increasingly complex geological conditions around the well​bore and also against the turbulent multi​-phase fluids that are flowing in a high temperature and pressure environment inside the wellbore itself. A detailed understanding of these factors is essential when determining the feasibility and lifetime of the wellbore.

Although many technologies already exist to monitor the condition of the wellbore, they constitute part of the well maintenance cycle and require the production to be stopped before any data can be acquired. Oil wells rarely undergo these surveys, therefore information is discontinuous and scarce. The objective of this project is to develop a novel monitoring system that would be permanently installed on the inside of the inner tubing of the wellbore to distinguish the gas, oil and water components of the flow.

Two key technologies are being explored: Fibre Bragg Grating sensors and ultrasound imaging, with the aim of providing a real time data feed about the liquid or gaseous constituents in the wellbore cross section during production. Such data will enable the operators to optimise the extraction depth of the well, increasing the extraction yield and reducing the time and volume of the resources required to run the operation. It will also permit testing of previously poor extraction points, as there is evidence that after a delay in extraction the pressure fluids could recede away from the wellbore allowing further oil extraction.

This project is made in collaboration with Shell.