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The Implication of Using State-of-the-Art Technologies in Oil Fields

Authors: Karam S. Al-Yateem, Dr. Fred Aminzadeh and Shivaji N. Dasgupta

Petroleum, as a fuel and an inexpensive source of energy, has been one of the foundations of the industrial revolution and causes of growth for more than a century. The insatiable demand for oil and gas as a source of energy is expected to continue well into the next century. Petroleum is also necessary for the production of many chemicals and consumer products. To continue meeting the growth in demand for oil, the recovery from reservoirs in existing fields must be enhanced. Many of the giant hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs has been relatively easy to find and produce. The new fields being discovered are progressively smaller accumulations in marginal fields. The prediction is that over 90% of future oil production will come from improved recovery in existing fields. By using conventional techniques at present, less than 50% of oil in place is producible. Intelligent fields and smart wells are new technologies that will improve the oil recovery from these reservoirs. Earlier applications of intelligent field technologies were for minimizing or eliminating costly well interventions. The more recent intelligent field includes smart well completion and reservoir monitoring, thereby improving the recovery factor, as well as increasing well production and performance. With multilateral maximum reservoir contact (MRC) and extreme reservoir contact (ERC) wells in use in the future, there will be dozens of laterals producing and injecting from the same mother wellbore. To manage the reservoirs in such a scenario, massive automation and control systems are imperative. Soft computing will support such a complex control system. Soft computing and artificial intelligence techniques, in smart oil fields, will involve deployment of real time data collection instruments as well as data integration, mining and visualization capabilities. Combining all of these tools will enable us to extract the maximum possible amount of hydrocarbons from the ground smartly, effectively and efficiently. Such improvements in turn will provide us the hope to reverse the decline in the worlds estimated reserve, and meet the growing demand. This article provides an extensive overview of the state-of-the-art technology for the intelligent oil field or intelligent field, detailing the critical elements that constitute intelligent wells. It defines the main components of this technology, some key technical foundations and crucial business drivers. We will be

highlighting some of the recent implementations by major national and international producers and service companies, with a few case histories where initial success has been reported. The scope can be summarized as the application of best-in-class technologies of downhole sensing and zonal flow control with informed production and reservoir management practices, and refined software and secure communication and computation, allowing sound real-time production or reservoir developmental decisions to be made. Moreover, we introduce a few novel concepts, some of which have already been implemented in the industry, leading to the optimization and enhancement of current and future operational practices.

Since the beginning of exploration for fossil fuels during the early 1860s, more than 50,000 hydrocarbon fields have been discovered. Studies show that more than 90% of these fields are insignificant and their impact on 1 world oil production is minimal . Subsequently, the petroleum industry has been remarkably successful in finding oil reserves, producing them, and delivering them to the markets for over a century. This success has powered tremendous global economic growth and an unprecedented rise in living standards around the 2 world . The world currently has a base of 1.2 trillion barrels of proven crude oil reserves, and by factoring in yet to be discovered fields, increased recovery rates and nonconventional oil resources; the potential recoverable reserves could potentially account of up to 4.5 trillion barrels. Oil producers are embarking on major expansions to meet the increasing current and future world energy demand. This would not be possible without the application of new cutting edge technologies, such as the implementation of intelligent field technology. Another emerging technique is the application of nanotechnology in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) 3 projects . Moreover, to meet global oil demand, horizontal, multilateral and complex wells require best-in-class technology to ensure controlling the well for optimum production through devices, such as smart chokes and downhole inflow/interval/internal control valves (ICVs), also known as internal control devices. To manage these fields, a demand for highly knowledgeable and qualified

engineers is on the rise, in light of national and international oil companies continuous commitment to increase and sustain production. The industry is tackling exciting problems through the use of technologies from mega-cell and giga-cell reservoir simulation models to the implementation of fully integrated intelligent fields, geosteering and laser drilling; all offering a wide range of interdisciplinary domains for field development and integral progression. As the number of smart well completions increases, the imperativeness of adopting intelligent well completions (IWCs), and the proper implementation of smart technologies and soft computing, in particular, is hereby narrowed. If the system is fed with variable accurate and precise data that covers the entire field, the results developed will be more dependable. To better understand the field though, the utilization of soft computing techniques, such as fuzzy logic and neural networks, is a must. All of these surely meet the main objective, better understanding of the field that leads to ultimate 4 production of the recoverable resources . Technological Advancements Gain The oil and gas industrys ability to deliver the current demand and future increase in energy needs is greatly dependent on its continued ability to push the envelope of the application of innovative technology. Meeting the increase in demand poses many challenges: efficiency in developing new fields with safety as a first priority while safeguarding the environment. The implementation of technological advancements result in a positive impact in field performance, extending the producing life of wells, optimizing sweep efficiency and eventually maximizing the oil recovery. Technology is a driver for satisfying the increased consumer demand and delivering it in a cost-effective, safe and environmentally responsible manner. Operators are currently able to cultivate oil production utilizing innovative technology applications in their current assets. As part of the innovations in intelligent field technology, nanorobots developed could be sent to the reservoir formation in 5 injector wells and produced with the produced fluids . This will enable the engineer to continuously view the reservoir boundaries and attain more precise information throughout the field, thereby ultimately optimizing the recovery mechanism and producing the maximum amount of hydrocarbons from reservoirs. Sustainable oil production is achieved by many operators with the application of EOR technologies, such as steam injection and water flooding. The support that IWC is capable of offering current and emerging EOR applications should be studied in-depth; some of which are the enhancement of oil production from shale, and corrosion control. EOR stands for all the techniques with a goal to increase the amount of oil that can be withdrawn from an oil field. The use of EOR methods could enhance the reservoir recovery to somewhere between 30% - 60% compared to the common known percentage of 20% - 40% with the utilization of primary and 6 secondary recovery . The ultimate goal is to leave only

the residual oil (nonproducible hydrocarbons) in the reservoir. In EOR technologies that involve injection of certain fluids, for example, there is a probability of forming scaling and precipitates that can easily block the reservoir. A single well can be drilled with two laterals for the application of chemical/water injection to enhance hydrocarbon recovery; the well is completed with intelligent components demanding drilling the fewest 7 number of wells possible . The installation of a permanent monitoring system, measuring key values like pressure, temperature and flow rate, will provide continuous insights of the effectiveness of the injection process. In addition, the existence of ICVs will allow for production control, i.e., increase production to the 8 optimum rate and decrease it if the water cut increases . Having a sensor that measures indirectly the concentration of minerals for the outcome fluids, will enable the engineer/operator to make a sound judgment of whether to stop the injection process for a while or simply control the chemical injection rate (increasing or decreasing the amount of pumped chemical). The implication of soft computing technologies with a good decision support system will facilitate the system to make decisions in real time if a regular/obvious problem occurs.

Lowering production costs, and therefore capital investment, lengthening reservoir life and optimizing hydrocarbon recovery are the prime objectives behind the establishment of in-depth understanding of any field. This can be easily achieved with optimal completion practices of individual production or injection, for gas or oil wells placed in any reservoir. Historical overviews of the drilling and completion procedures, from not too long ago, shows that vertical wells were dominant in the oil industry followed by slanted drilling, bringing horizontal drilling and now multilaterals and multizone drilling and completions with maximum reservoir contact (MRC) laterals and extended reach wells into the picture, Fig. 1. This led to optimized field production or injection programs, improving reservoir performance, achieving higher extraction ratios and reducing field development 8 and intervention costs . This, more expensive drilling and well completion procedure, can easily be economically justified with improvement in reservoir performance and increased recovery. The responsible operators and engineers cannot use sound judgment and make informed decisions without intelligence of what is going on in the reservoir. For example, in a multilateral well, if the water invades one of the laterals, the well performance will be affected greatly due to the increase in water cut. Alternatively, if ICVs exists along with sensors that can predict the water movement, better proactive reservoir management can be made. Therefore, the integration of IWC, with the installation of permanent monitoring devices, serve as the economic justification path between sophisticated drilling procedures and complicated well completion and exploring and producing

Fig. 1. New horizon of multilateral extreme reservoir contact drilling.

Fig. 2. The support behind drilling optimal intelligent well.

hydrocarbons from conventional, mature oil fields and unconventional reservoirs. Geosteering is defined as the drilling of a complex well where decisions to optimize the well path are made based upon real-time geological and

reservoir data while drilling. Visualization of the data in three dimensional (3D) leads to attaining the optimal reservoir contact by maximizing oil zone placement, Fig. 2. Smart wells are equipped with monitoring equipment

Fig. 3. Smart systems data collection, processes and utilization.

and completion components that can be remotely adjusted to optimize production. Thereby, IWCs can be defined as the process of making a well ready for production (or injection) with the assembly of downhole tubular and sensor equipment for the purpose of enabling a safer, smarter, more efficient, more effective, and more economical and optimum production from an oil or gas well in a timely manner. Soft Computing and Real Time Monitoring and Control Additionally, the deployment of smart completions and permanent monitoring systems enables real-time monitoring and control of the subsurface and surface equipment through systems like Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA); and sometimes remotely 9 through advanced systems . The successful amalgamation of IWC to the SCADA console provides the ability to control the downhole valves while simultaneously monitoring data from the downhole sensors and 10 multiphase flow meters on the surface . This huge amount of data transferred every second should be interpreted, thereby the decision making is left, in many cases, to the operator/engineer in charge. In addition, engineers/management might be late in making a decision due to data understanding and explanation. An hour of latency could cost millions in production operations. Soft computing methods provide the ability to

manage the massage quantities of data that would not be possible with a manual system. This results in a producing system that uses the real time monitoring data and detects the current field conditions, anticipates field requirements and makes decisions in a timely fashion under the overall supervision of engineers. The engineers are responsible for the set point parameters in the automatic system, which is constantly checked against real time monitored data from the instruments. This ultimately results in an appropriate data management, leading to the best possible use of the huge volume of field information gathered, Fig. 3. There is some emphasis over the implication of soft technologies, data management and decision support systems throughout this article. Data Management, Communication and Security Real-time and secure data communication, and data delivery on demand are both vital in IWC, and further essential to dynamically monitor and control production operations remotely at all times, Fig. 4. With secure twoway data transformation and interpretation through a Web browser, informed real time decisions can be made and executed in a real time approach. The installation of permanent downhole monitoring systems (PDHMS) assures that production parameters (like oil production, gas production and total production) as well as accompanied flowing pressures and temperatures are

Fig. 4. Overview of real-time intelligent operations: courtesy of Shell.

measured and recorded. Moreover, additional information relative to, electrical submersible pumps and compressors for example, can be monitored easily. The system can be enabled to send an alarm if a problem occurs. With the utilization of the soft computing methodologies, if the system is familiar with the problem, it can make a sound judgmental decision, and at the same time informs the responsible personnel. This is the ultimate objective of having IWCs installed. This remote, real-time communication minimizes downtime and production loss. It also reduces safety concerns by minimizing on-site personnel visits and handles systematic precautions.

The direct benefits obtained from the intelligent well technology can be summarized as follows: Increase hydrocarbon recovery efficiencies through better and more insightful management of reservoir injection and production processes and real time data acquisition. Improvement in reservoir performance, productivity index and lengthening of decline curve plateau. Also, better exploration of marginal reserves. Reduce capital expenditure via developing assets with a smaller number of wells, and therefore, less surface infrastructure. Reduce operating expenditure by reducing intervention and producing a lesser amount of water. Reduce health, safety and the environment exposure by helping the operators to remotely optimize production without frequent visits and interventions.

Some of the limitations for effective and efficient smart systems are (the sensitivity of each method varies from one company to another): (1) cost of technology, (2) trained manpower, (3) mature fields, (4) hot, harsh deep environments, (5) integration of operations (surface and subsurface), and (6) power and communications. The main elements of IWC are flow monitoring, flow control and flow optimization, Fig. 3. Smart completion consists of some combination of zonal isolation devices, ICVs; subsurface flow control devices controlled by methods like actuation or multiplexing. The fundamental requirements for a smart system to exist are downhole control, permanent monitoring systems and sensors, surface monitoring and control, zonal isolation devices, power and communications and automation and control and data acquisition and management software and system accessories.

What can an intelligent well provide? The benefits of drilling a sophisticated multilateral horizontal well compared to a vertical well are addressed first. It increases production rates, control (water, gas and sand) production, increase reserves, provides the ability of producing from thin reservoirs, connect vertical fractures, produce methane from coal and increase injectivity (steam, water, polymers, etc.) in enhanced/secondary oil recovery applications. Smart well completions access this target with minimum time and cost, with reduced formation damage and drawdown pressure, minimum

environmental impact, maximum attainable productivity, and maximum safety for the workers. Reliability of Smart Systems The installation of equipment like PDHMS consists of an electronic measuring system placed near the reservoir depth and connected to recording equipment through an electrical cable or fiber optical system attached to the well pipe. Reliability is a key requirement for systems that remotely control inflow and monitor the reservoir. The industry has set high reliability targets: 90% probability to survive 5 years for the actual monitoring system, and 90% probability to survive 10 years for actuators. Although the basic idea that reliability qualification testing (RQT) is the occurrence of a particular failure and may be a random event; the failure modes themselves are not random. In an evaluation of 952 PDHMS systems from four service companies, Shell estimated the industry average of 5 year survival probability to be 69%, and identified the PDHMS system improvements needed to achieve the industry target 5 year survival probability of 90% to be technical quality, 11 care during installation and management of interfaces . The survival analysis is a very effective and unbiased technique to determine permanent installation lifetime. RQT is a powerful tool to accelerate the development of intelligent completions and it is essential to search for the root causes of failure and to determine effective corrective measures. It is important to remember that: RQT helps achieve overall system reliability by closing the loop from equipment design, component qualification and testing to personnel training and field operations with the mission profile providing a realistic framework for the specifications and testing. A short circuited connection is the cause for most observed failures. To minimize this, improvements are mainly needed in connectors, interfaces and installation techniques. For electronic based intelligent completions, the 90% 5 year reliability goal is achievable for single zones below a temperature of 100 F if the connector reliability is improved by 75%. For a hydraulic system, the 90% 5 year reliability goal is achievable using reasonable reliability specifications for its actuator, hydraulic line and connections.

This combination allows full control and monitoring of zonal injection rates and has proven to be a valuable tool in managing reservoir pressure, and therefore, optimizing production. The main objective of this intelligent completion was to be able to selectively direct both water and gas injection into zones where it is most needed, and monitor the rates into each zone at any given time. The remote control and monitoring of sleeves and sensors were considered very useful and costeffective functionalities. Recent application field-wide was made possible by Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco went further than any others in the intelligent field and has had many appli5 cations of the smart field initiatives . The latest addition of 300,000 barrels per day from the Haradh III increment 12 of Ghawar is called "a milestone for smart fields " due to the successful integration of four technologies: 1) MRC wells, 2) smart completions, 3) geosteering, and 4) intelligent fields. The infrastructure put in place includes 32 MRC wells (each with multiple horizontal laterals), 28 horizontal water injector wells, 12 observation wells, and a new gas-oil separation plant. The project that spanned a period of almost 2 years is regarded as the entry point to the intelligent era of real time reservoir management. Another general application of smart systems was through the detailed consideration and well management of the injection and production processes of single or multiple phase flow under various flow rates in a timely manner. Using model based flooding optimization to design detailed injection and production rates, smart completion improved the controlling capacity of the system, and therefore resulted in the enhancement of production recovery that was not deemed possible without the dynamic optimization of injection and 7 production rates during the water flood . Some major visionary smart completion technology applications in EOR for oil shale recovery represents a significant unconventional hydrocarbon resource, with estimates of the total volume of oil in place exceeding 1.5 trillion equivalent barrels in the United States alone. ExxonMobil provided the Electrofrac process for in-situ oil shale conversion with encouraging results. The utilization of IWC (more to the benefits gained in its pure conventional application) will complement and control the process of sending electricity to the created fractures to convert the solid organic matter to oil and gas. Schlumberger invented another method for the same purpose, where they use radio frequencies to heat the shale to pyrolysis temperatures and supercritical carbon-divide to sweep 13 the produced fluids and gases to production wells . Multilateral Deliverability One of the great benefits that can be explained from the theoretical example of having IWCs in a multilateral well is the real-time understanding of the reservoir by receiving real-time measurements of flow rates, pressures, temperatures, etc., along with the utilization of pressure-volume-temperature data and information


A practical single application of smart systems was on a four zone intelligent water alternating gas injector that was installed on a platform well in the North Sea in May 2004. The completion included three Weatherford optical single-phase flow meters with integrated pressure and temperature gauges and variable downhole valves for controlling injection rates into each of the four zones.

gained from the installed sensors. This makes possible the estimation of wellhead flowing pressure that will account for the cross flow and the wellhead pressure 14 that will articulate the down flow of each lateral . Therefore, continuous production optimization can be easily achieved. Figure 5 shows the plot of total wellbore oil flow vs. wellhead pressure. Figure 6 shows the total wellbore oil flow and the contribution of each lateral vs. wellhead pressure, and Fig. 7 shows the percentage of the contribution of each lateral to the total rate plotted against the wellhead pressure. Figure 8 is the multilateral configuration. One of the laterals started to have negative flow (probably due to cross flow) at a wellhead pressure of 1,558 psia. The total flow rate, however, become negative at a wellhead pressure of 1,778 psia. Lateral 4 declined first, rapidly followed by lateral 3, lateral 2, and finally lateral 1, as anticipated from the available reservoir data. Utilizing this rigorous mathematical model, the data and plots exhibit that a wellhead pressure below 1,500 psia should be maintained for a healthy system.

Fig. 7. Percentage of contribution of each lateral to the total rate plotted.

Fig. 5. Total oil flow vs. wellhead pressure.

Fig. 8. Multilateral oil well deliverability .


Decision Support System Prior to the application of soft computing technologies to automate decision making that will greatly support the deployment of smart completions, a decision support system (DSS) must be in place. A DSS is an information system that supports businesses and organizations in the decision making process. It is an interactive computer system intended to help decision makers to: (a) Compile useful information from raw data, documents, personal knowledge and/or business models, (b) Identify and solve problems, and (c) Suggest or make decisions. The DSS has evolved to include executive information systems, group decision support systems, organizational decision support systems and single user and model oriented DSS. Many methods are behind the DSS, some

Fig. 6. Contribution of each lateral.

of which are decision trees (being the most common), simulation and sensitivity analysis. Typical decision points in the Exploration and Producing (E&P) industry are: Reservoir definition and behavior. Opportunities for future business. Maintenance regime. Equipment selection. Capital vs. operating cost trade-offs. Handling oil price fluctuations. Extending productive life.

This requires handling ambiguities in inputs, such as historical records and laboratory tests. It calls for interactive computer based systems for faster diagnosis and decision making. It is considered to be an integrated asset management between information technology and petroleum engineering work flows. With programming of such implications, it is important to know that decision makers must balance trade-offs for problems with 15 multiple objectives . Soft Computing in Synergy with IWCs Soft computing is an efficient and effective method of data mining. It provides real environment optimization of operations ultimately leading to the appropriate selection of best-in-class technology deployment in a field, and therefore, sustains field production levels, prolongs the life of the wells and controls the wells for optimum production. The application of soft computing in the E&P industry assures leaving the least amount of oil in the ground (increase production), find every economic barrel yet to be discovered (cut cost), and expand the recoverable resources (accelerate recovery). Additionally, the outlook hydrocarbon price supports the application of 2 such technologies . It is a long-term investment that will improve reliability, reduce reentry and its cost, improve decision making, reduce human intervention and provide a rapid response to market conditions. Remotely operated MRC multilateral wells with smart well completions have reduced the well count, increased productivity, improved flood front conformance while lowering water production and reduced overall operating costs. Even with the latest advancements of soft computing (utilized to diagnose production problems and set appropriate solutions in Middle East fields), it still requires an operator to remotely control the downhole valves using the SCADA system. Neural networks is an artificial neural network that simulates the behavior of a human biological network of neurons by assigning weights to connections between 4 layers of neurons to suggest a degree of influence , Fig. 9. They can then be used through SCADA to test the individual zones of smart MRC multilateral wells, and therefore eliminate continuous operator supervision and decision making. This requires building a network that connects to SCADA, receives well data and makes decisions using a NN system for choke positions through

Fig. 9. An overview of a neural network structure.

a SCADA application. Operator free full automation of intelligent well downhole control will further reduce operating costs, eliminate the constant supervision of SCADA applications, achieve better and faster decisions via the networks ability to continuously train and learn instantaneously through real-time data feed after the flow tests. They accelerate production and optimize performance with the best usage of the intelligent facilities. Initially, the neural network could work as an alerting mechanism or warning system for a stringent set of parameters defined for the reservoir. It would perform soft computing on the continuous stream of data from the instruments. The system would summarize data from multiple well PDHMSs and other downhole instruments; however, the uncertainty in the reservoir flow characteristics between wells would be unknown and would change the decision making process for the production engineers. Monitoring rules are continuously altered in a producing reservoir based on production history and diagnostic measurements. The data needs to be fed into a reservoir fluid simulator for spatially defining the flow characteristics, and therefore, are used for updating the monitoring rules. This will perform like a virtual advisor with artificial intelligence and provide advisory messages. The alerts could be in the form of "insufficient pressure support over an area," "sweep efficiency below target," "water cut increment rising abnormally," "condensate accumulation becoming critical near the wellbore, etc. The alerts would provide scheduling action plans for the field engineers in optimizing the well production. In the future, more advanced applications of soft computing for neural network would provide a total automation in real time managing of reservoir fluid production and injection processes in multilateral wells. Reservoir and production engineers would monitor the performance of the system and would have the cap-

ability to override the automatic system and vary the parameter settings to affect the overall reservoir performance.


Oil is the primary source of energy for industrial civilization. Over the past 50 years, exploration for and production of petroleum has been an increasingly more technological enterprise, benefiting from more sophisticated engineering capabilities, advanced geological understanding, improved instrumentation, greatly expanded computing power and more durable materials. Todays technology allows oil reservoirs to be more easily discovered and better understood sooner. Accordingly, reservoirs can be produced more rapidly, which provides significant economic advantages to the operators. The capabilities provided by smart completions are enormous. Smart completions enable more transparent, sustainable and systematic management of well production and downhole monitoring and control from the surface. It provides downhole pressure and temperature measurements for each zone, eliminate flow of individual zones, estimate production of individual zones in real time, optimize total hydrocarbon production of wells by controlling the chock position of ICV and reveal the interaction and cross flow of zones.

Fig. 10. Saudi Aramcos visualization room layout: courtesy of Saudi Aramco.

Most of the innovative technologies presented here have been applied and evaluated thoroughly; some are still thoughts. The future is challenging, the era of smooth easy oil extraction does not exist anymore. The demand growth is here to stay for several decades for which new technologies must be developed and deployed to increase the effectiveness through which the oil resources are found, developed and produced. Intelligent wells, four dimension seismic, smart fields, extreme reservoir contact (ERC) wells, and real time operations are just some of the applications that were a myth to some not too long ago. The future direction includes even more complex intelligent completions and subsea deployments of smart systems. High accuracy distributed array temperature sensing, optical distributed pressure sensing, sand detection and distributed strain is just a few of the new generation of sensing systems. With the value of permanent systems becoming increasingly recognized, comes the desire for more accurate data and more information concerning well and reservoir performance. More importantly, the future is in investing the way we visualize our operations mainly in real time, integrating all inputs toward effective operations, Fig. 10. The future of intelligent well technology is promising. From the data side, more sensors are being manufactured and tested for specific applications with faster transmission and improved validation and storage.

These data are to be analyzed with more accurate, faster simulators, improving the visualization with a worldwide access with feed forward and full asset integration control. Furthermore, the applications of intelligent well technology are being explored or are applied in tentatively small scale or still at a mature level of application by many national and international oil companies with the support of services companies: Subsea/deepwater production from complex reservoirs integrated with sand control methods. Advanced wellbore architecture like long horizontals with multilaterals. Secondary/Tertiary Recovery, improving the efficiency of EOR applications. Unconventional oil and tight gas reservoirs with multiple fracture treatments.

Intelligent wells and completions have been around for 10+ years. The number of installations has been growing fast around the world and is estimated to be in excess of 16 900 . Many national oil companies, international oil companies, educational institutions (Stanford and the University of Southern California (USC)) and service companies (like Well Dynamics) are investing time, money and effort toward the intelligent field. Chevron calls it an intelligent field program and has educational collaboration with USC through the Center of Interactive Smart Oil Field Technologies (CiSoft). Shell names it smart fields. Statoil of Norway uses the term smart wells and it is Automation and Smart Field for the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO). The Smart Fields Consortium run by Stanford has many

contributors (Saudi Aramco, British Petroleum (BP), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, IBM, Total, Baker Hughes, Chevron, etc.). IBM calls it intelligent oil field and has opened five facilities so far, focused on the global oil and gas industry providing ways to help petroleum producers test and use new technologies that will lower costs and make oil recovery easier, more efficient and more intelligent. Benefits of smart completions in an intelligent field can only be realized fully with a central facility that would have control on all ICVs. Soft computing will provide a collaborative environment for expert scientists and engineers to remotely control all installed systems. The collaboration will allow individuals from various disciplines to track changes and detect errors. A Mission Control Center would be appropriate for real-time control and realization for strategic business decisions: 1. Utilization of intelligent wells has been extended to enhance performance of existing weak and dead conventional completion wells after converting them in to multilaterals. 2. ICV and other smart equipment provide flow control of commingled production from different laterals; manage production in real-time to optimize oil performance. 3. Field performance indicates smart wells consistent with meeting reservoir production and injection objectives: sustaining productivity, improving sweep efficiency, managing water production and minimizing production interruptions. Once a well starts producing water or gas, the production is managed by changing downhole valve positions to eliminate undesired production. 4. Cross flow between wet and dry laterals is damaging well productivity due to rock imbibitions of water; changing the ICV settings also optimize this effect. 5. The effectiveness of intelligent completions is improved by the careful planning, design and placement of laterals; this can be accomplished via geosteering. 6. Dedicated testing facilities and surface control systems for smart systems would enhance their effectiveness, i.e., ICVs equipped with multiple downhole gauges for measuring both upstream and downstream pressures. From the delta pressure and flow area, the total rate for each ICV is calculated. 7. Sophisticated wellbore architecture, enhanced secondary/tertiary recovery and subsea and deep water production are some promising places for futuristic complex applications of intelligent technology 8. In the future, electric intelligent completions will become wireless, with rechargeable batteries in the wellbore to trickle the charge with reservoir flow: This will expand the scope of multilateral wells and make it possible to have a large number of laterals from the same motherbore. 9. Soft computing would allow assimilating the large amounts of test data, production parameters, and

make reservoir decisions rapidly and more consistently. 10. Reliability specs and ranges would also be part of this soft computing process.

The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi Aramco along with USC for permission to publish this article. The authors would also like to acknowledge Alejandro Bugacov and Nilay Engins scientific contribution. Also, the authors would like to thank Yunshan Li and Anas Alomair for their insightful input and Konstantinos Zormpalas for his language review.

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Karam S. Al-Yateem started his professional career with Saudi Aramco as a Production Engineer immediately after graduation. Since then, he has taken several assignments in various onshore and offshore field locations. Karam has worked as a Reservoir Engineer, Field Engineer, Testing Engineer and Production Engineer in Safaniya; the worlds largest offshore oil field. He has also worked with the Computational Modeling Technology Team as a summer student trainee. The team was responsible for creating the worlds largest simulator, Saudi Aramcos Parallel Oil, Water and Gas Enhanced Reservoir Simulator (POWERS), capable of accurately predicting reservoir performance of giant fields, like Ghawar field. Karam also acted as a coordinator to the 3D Well Planning and Analysis System Project and was a mentor to many newly hired young professionals. He has authored and coauthored several technical papers. Yateem has represented Saudi Aramco in various international forums and conferences and chaired the first Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Young Professionals (YP) Technical Symposium in 2007. He is the recipient of the 2008 Young Member Outstanding Service Award of the energy industry. In 2005, Karam received his B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Karam received his M.S. degree from the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA, in Petroleum Engineering: Smart Oil Field Technologies and Management.









Dr. Fred Aminzadeh is a Research Professor and Managing Director of the University of Southern Californias (USC) Global Energy Center. Among his current research interests are: geothermal energy, smart oil fields and unconventional resources. He served as the president of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (2007-2008) as well as chairman of the SEG research committee. Previously, Fred was president and CEO of dGB-USA. He also worked both in technical and management positions at Unocal (now Chevron). Fred has served as an advisor to Lawrence Berkeley, Livermore, Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National laboratories, as well as a member of U.S. National Research Councils Committee on Seismology and the Department of Energys Unconventional Resource Technology Advisory Board (URTAC). He has taught many industry courses, given keynote speeches, webinars, and interviews on both technical and strategic issues on various aspects of seismic technology in more than 30 countries. Fred led a $25 million 3D Seismic Modeling of Salt and Overthrust Structures project. He also led the Prediction division of the industry sponsored DEEPLOOK project. Fred holds three U.S. patents, has authored 12 books and over 350 papers on different aspects of the computing and geosciences technologies, including pattern recognition, image processing, neural networks, fuzzy logic, 3D seismic modeling, modeling, seismic attributes, advanced seismic data processing, AVO, gas chimneys, absorption and reservoir characterization. He received his Ph.D. degree from the USC.

Shivaji N. Dasgupta has over 30 years of experience in the petroleum industry. Before he retired, Shiv was a Sr. Geophysical Consultant and the project leader in Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) for microseismic reservoir monitoring. He has held various technical positions in the USA with Amoco Production (now BP), Mitchell Energy, and Conoco. Shiv has published and presented over 70 papers; and has recently been granted a U.S. patent, and has three U.S. patents pending. He is the 2007-2008 Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Distinguished Regional Lecturer for the Middle East and African regions. In 2007 he was a member of Schlumberger Research Advisory Board. Shiv is an external examiner for Ph.D. students at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He received his B.S. degree in Engineering Geophysics from the Indian School of Mines, his M.S. degree from St. Louis University and Washington University, and a MBA from So. Illinois University, IL. Shiv is an active member of SEG, EAGE, AAPG and SPE.