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IADC/SPE 81630

Underbalanced Data Acquisition: A Real-Time Paradigm
Saad Saeed, SPE, Halliburton Energy Services
Copyright 2003, IADC/SPE Underbalanced Technology Conference and Exhibition
This paper was prepared for presentation at the IADC/SPE Underbalanced Technology
Conference and Exhibition held in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 25–26 March 2003.
This paper was selected for presentation by an IADC/SPE Program Committee following
review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the
paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the International Association of Drilling
Contractors or the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the
author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the IADC,
SPE, their officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of
this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of the International Association
of Drilling Contractors or the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not
be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom
the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836
U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.

Formation damage and reservoir attributes can only be
effectively evaluated with high quality, pertinent data.
Underbalanced operations require a complex array of
techniques that enable data to be effectively collated and
managed. With the further advent of networking technologies
the real-time transmission of this data is also now a viable
option, leading to a myriad of benefits from accurate diagnosis
and evaluation to real-time planning. This paper aims to
describe data acquisition in underbalanced operations,
commencing with a conventional acquisition setup, moving to
a real-time operational case study.
Underbalanced data acquisition has its roots in the
traditional well testing setup, with the basic surface separator
being standard. But due to the complexity of the operation
many specializations and innovative modifications have been
implemented, making it an entity in itself. The paper describes
a typical underbalanced data acquisition setup. It then
traverses to the latest high technology realm of real-time
acquisition and transmission, which enables data to be
acquired in the field and transmitted directly to the client’s
office. System setup, architecture (client – server) and
limitations will be discussed and evaluated. The advantages of
real-time data acquisition will be shown as well as current
caveats and possible conceptual technological innovation to
overcome these limitations.
The future of underbalanced data acquisition is also taking
a fundamental shift. Its amalgamation with the data analysis
fields (i.e. non-simple processing) is leading to a fundamental
shift in acquisition setups. These trends will be examined
along with challenges and current industry direction.
In the underbalanced sphere, the marriage between data
collection and transmission within a real-time framework
plays a vital role in optimizing results. In the past, data
acquisition design and implementation has been relegated to
the last phase of many operations. This paper aims to bring

data acquisition, its current direction and setup to the
forefront. Formation damage and ultimately recovery are
important entities, but it is only with good quality data,
available in a timely manner, that these can be representatively
evaluated and the well understood.
Underbalanced drilling is defined as drilling undertaken whilst
the bottom hole annular circulating pressure is less than the
formation pore pressure (or in simpler terms drilling when the
pressure exerted by the formation is greater than that exerted
by the drilling fluid). The inherent nature of this technique
provides several benefits which can be categorized into two
main sections, reservoir and operational. These include but
are not limited to,
• Minimizing formation damage
• Increased production rates (including
maximizing flush production)
• Early evaluation of reservoir properties
• Increased rate of penetration (ROP)
• No differential sticking
• Minimizing loss circulation
• Continuous testing of formation (i.e. well test
while drilling)
Generally data requirements are not immediately apparent
when considering an underbalanced operation and, due to this
data acquisition, has generally been relegated to the last
phases of project design. But such an approach is precarious in
nature as good quality data plays a pivotal role in every aspect
of underbalanced operations. To quantify a small portion of
data requirements let’s consider a specific example.
Minimizing formation damage is of particular interest as the
minimization of formation damage may be one of the main
drivers for use of underbalanced drilling. Formation damage is
typically caused by mud filtrate invasion into the reservoir
matrix during conventional overbalanced operations. Such an
interaction then acts as a ‘resistive’ barrier or ‘skin’, impeding
fluid flow to the well bore and in turn affecting ultimate
recovery and production. In theory the degree of damage is
generally quantified by a variable known as the skin factor (s),
which is simplistically defined as,


∆p s


the tube changes it cross-section into a circular shape and in doing so the tube ‘unwinds’.2 SAAD SAEED It is current thinking that inducing reservoir fluid flow during drilling (thereby avoiding filtrate invasion) minimizes formation damage. investigating special requirements. presentation (display) and more recently transmission/transfer. to display and finally (optional) transfer of data to other locations. Sensors Sensors measure specific parameters and in combination with appropriate transmitters provide raw data signals in a variety of formats. computers. The paper will finally conclude with a small real-time underbalanced data acquisition case study. The reader will be presented with real world technologies that enable data from the well site to be transferred directly to the client in the office. or other acquisition systems. The basic system model is diagrammatically presented in Fig. Though output signal formats vary with sensor design and application. thereby enabling the timely interpretation and diagnosis of ongoing underbalanced operations. IADC/SPE 81630 • Master: Master entity which controls and coordinates the acquisition process. Complexity and variety require careful planning and management and a carefully designed data acquisition system that fits in and provides the foundation on which underbalanced drilling operations and evaluation are based. flow and level. from information collection and management to transmission. which is essentially an elliptical cross-section curved tube. Avoiding filtrate invasion leaves the reservoir matrix in a pseudo-virginal state. Pressure measurement techniques vary widely due to the vast variety of situations and applications of the technology. from information storage and manipulation. production rates. Pressure itself is usually measured as a pressure difference (i. manage and transmit data in a safe. and other data acquisition systems (either manual or automated). thus maximizing potential production. For instance the most famous technique in this category is the Bourdon gauge. and illustrate real-time mechanisms that may be used to collate. universally 4 – 20 mA dc is a commonly accepted industry wide standard for analog systems. Within these section(s) data acquisition will be described and its basic components explored. • Gauge: Pressure of the fluid relative to surrounding atmospheric pressure. manipulation. Usually the data requirements are fairly complex and are from a variety of sources. temperature. The most common within the underbalanced oilfield domain are as follows. • Source: Measure physical entities and/or generates raw data. The sources may include sensors. As mentioned above. computer systems. Displacement type sensors: Use the deformation of an elastic solid to measure the pressure. To achieve this aim. • Transmission technology: Enables transmission of raw signals from source to systems interface. which is defined as an interconnected ‘network’ of a variety of data sources that are managed by a centralized ‘master’ entity.e. and describing the general approach. relative to a pressure datum). sources may include sensors.e. Pressure of the fluid relative to another known pressure within the system. which amalgamates all the components discussed and demonstrates how the data acquisition system may be used to its maximum potential. real-time operations will be briefly detailed. Sensor types fall into (but are not restricted to) four broad categories: pressure. • Interface: Interprets or converts raw data to a format that can be managed by the master system. It is the aim of this paper to bring underbalanced data acquisition to the forefront. As pressure is applied via fluid entering through the open end (and once the inner pressure is greater than outside pressure). It not only dictates underbalanced operational considerations and direction. • Differential: Difference between two measured pressures within a system. 1. but provides vital reservoir interpretation and diagnosis information. but also its management. skin values). The paper will then focus on underbalanced data acquisition. and due to this methodology. Furthermore the entire underbalanced technique itself relies on a constant stream of select real-time data to execute operations. Source Sources provide raw data signals on which the entire data acquisition framework is based. As can be seen in this figure the system is comprised of four major components. To gain a better understanding of the model and how acquisition actually works (which will play a vital role in appreciating underbalanced data acquisition) each component will be explored separately. The physical displacement of the closed end is transferred by mechanical means and translated into an appropriate pressure . This methodology or process is realized in a data acquisition system. which has one end closed but is free to move and the other end open but fixed in place. the paper commences with a theoretical introduction to general data acquisition. These four categories provide the vast majority of data which is of vital importance in an underbalanced operation and will be briefly examined below. ultimate recovery and many of the parameters mentioned above cannot be quantified or even evaluated without good quality pertinent data. Data Acquisition: The Basics Data acquisition can be intuitively defined as the process of collecting data from one or a number of sources. I. Data acquisition has evolved over the years and grown to encompass not only the collection of data. Following this. three types of pressure measurements are commonly referred to: • Absolute: Pressure of the fluid relative to a vacuum. Though this classical definition describes the terms literally it is far from accurate today. Pressure Pressure is one of the fundamental physical quantities that must be accurately and precisely measured. timely and secure manner. Formation damage (esp.

The potential difference or the increase in resistance is then translated into a pressure reading using suitable correlations. Orifice plate: This technique restricts fluid flow via a circular orifice plate inserted into the fluid stream. Based on the measurement principle utilized. based on the measured velocity of the fluid stream. Flow Flow rates and volume calculation of both liquid and gaseous phases is one of the most vital and important parameters in the underbalanced operations. positive displacement and mass. The resultant pressure differential across the plate is then measured using standard differential pressure devices. Diaphragm type sensors: Use the deflection of a diaphragm to measure pressure. Ultrasonic: This technique uses sound waves to determine fluid velocity and in turn flow rate. Vortex: This technique is based on the vortex shedding principle. fluid properties and flow regimes. The two faces of the diaphragm are subject to a pressure difference and either the mechanical deflection is measured or a capacitance setup is utilized. Due to there factors flow rate measurement is an entire discipline in itself and methods vary wildly depending on conditions. Frictional affects of interaction of fluid and ‘carrier’ pipe. which is then converted into a flow rate. the diaphragm is one plate of a capacitor which changes value with pressure induced deflection. One sensor (upstream) initiates a sound wave which travels through the fluid stream and is picked up at the other sensor (downstream). This change is then translated into a pressure reading using suitable correlations. thereby measuring this resistance change enables the calculation of temperature through appropriate correlations. The fluid is then returned to the original pressure by gradually increasing the pipe diameter back to the original. A magnetic coil is placed externally and as the rotor rotates. Two major approaches are currently used. The measuring device generates an output signal which is proportional to velocity. Resistance Thermometers: Use the electrical properties of a substance to measure temperature. Metals’ electrical resistance changes with changes in temperature. The first measurement is of a static pressure (usually at the pipe wall) and the second measurement is within the fluid stream. The generated pulses represent discrete fluid volumes and can be converted into flow rates. But with the advent and introduction of more accurate underbalanced heat transfer and thermodynamic well bore models. The following section only 3 briefly looks at the technologies which are commonly being utilized for underbalanced operations and is not intended as an exhaustive guide as to all available options. Pitot Tubes: This technique calculates the pressure differential by measuring the pressure at two different places within the pipe. This voltage can then be converted into a temperature value using appropriate correlations. proportional to the flow rate).which is measured by an appropriate pickup. Venturi: This technique progressively reduces the diameter of a pipe and measures the resultant pressure drop. a suitable material is exposed to fluid pressure. the blades cut the lines of flux. Piezoelectric sensors: Use the electrical properties of pressure sensitive substances to measure pressure. Thermocouples: Use the fact that two dissimilar metals connected to each other will generate an electric potential depending on the temperature at the respective junctions. For the latter. Turbine: This technique uses a specially designed bearing mounted multi blade rotor which is placed in the fluid stream. This differential pressure can then be converted to a flow rate using established correlations. The pressure fluctuations caused by the vortices are measured and the frequency at which they occur is directly proportional to the flow rate. The material may develop a small potential difference across it or an associated increase in electrical resistance which is proportional to the applied pressure. As fluid passes a non-streamline surface it separates and forms vortices and eddies.IADC/SPE 81630 UNDERBALANCED DATA ACQUISITION: A REAL-TIME PARADIGM reading.e. Flow rate of fluid in pipes are affected by a number of parameters including: • • • • Density of fluid Viscosity of fluid Velocity of fluid through the ‘carrier’ pipe. Temperature measurement within the oilfield is again through a myriad of techniques. In this setup two acoustic transmitter/receiver sensors are placed on opposite sides of a pipe at 45 degree angles to each other. Flow nozzle: Is a variant on the venturi method. Pressure based techniques This technique indirectly measures the fluid flow by measuring the pressure differential in a fluid stream created by a known obstruction. temperature measurements are of increasing value. whereby the nozzle at the reduced diameter is of an elliptical shape and no gradual pressure recovery area is present. Velocity based techniques This technique calculates the flow rate. flow measurement devices can be divided into four major categories: pressure. velocity. Temperature Temperature is an important parameter which has typically provided qualitative and diagnostic information. the most common of which are presented below. The first is by using the speed of sound to determine fluid velocity. In this technique. This technique is commonly used in pressure testing equipment such as non return valves (NRV). The fluid causes the rotor to rotate at a speed which is proportional to the velocity (i. thereby inducing an alternating voltage . The time .

Several organizations approach this task by creating their own proprietary transfer standards with esoteric algorithms. But this method involves knowing the fluid specific gravity. available for all to implement. but fail dismally when interacting with third party entities. The second approach uses a Doppler effect to determine fluid velocity. especially since all companies have a wide variety of hardware and software. many with proprietary features. The frequency of the emitted and received sound waves is compared. This distance. and the difference is directly proportional to the fluid velocity.e. most commonly used techniques are as follows. WITS is an open specification. Computer Systems Underbalanced operations require a vast gamut of information from a wide variety of different sources. but are mounted together on the same side of the pipe. In . the system is deemed to be complaint at that particular WITS level. a set of rules which are not based on proprietary or exclusive technology. the protocol does not concentrate heavily on implementation mechanisms. A number of standard low-level and high level protocols exist in the industry today. Though the standard is thorough and exhaustive. Vendors may decide to implement particular levels of the standard specification. source) making underbalanced data acquisition feasible in many cases. usually only the early levels (0 or 1) are currently being used in underbalanced operations. The relative motion of the reflective suspended bodies in the fluid stream causes sound wave compression. Multicore cables are the backbone of many data acquisition systems and are used to (electrically) carry the . One sensor generates a sound wave of constant frequency. The main forms of transmission technology used in the field include: • Multicore cables: These are several shielded electrical cables twisted into one cable. This information may be transferred in a number of ways. ranging from drilling parameters to mud logging variables. the standard was cunningly defined as a number of levels. Rather the protocol should act as an abstraction providing a high level transfer definition and disregard implementation mechanisms. Radar: Utilizes a select range of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum (typically 5 to 10 GHz and more recently 24 GHz). thereby reducing their wavelength and increasing frequency.e. WITS was developed by the Information Transfer Subcommittee of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) in conjunction with several major service companies to facilitate easy and efficient transfer between data acquisition systems. which work well within an IADC/SPE 81630 inter-company system. which is known as ullage. or WITS for short. Furthermore sensor placement becomes critical and measurement points vital. But it is important that the acquisition systems be able to understand each other and interpret the transferred data correctly. They enable multi-source data to be centralized and thereby analyzed and compared appropriately. The gamut includes both surface and subsurface data requirements. Level measurements can then simply be taken with visual aids. Site glasses: These are essentially manometers where the fluid level in the site glass takes the same level as that in the vessel. Transmission technology Transmission technology encompasses methods used to transfer information and raw data signals from the source to the interface. and into are The Pressure: The level or height of the fluid is directly related to the head of the fluid. and as long as all the rules are followed for a particular level. But how would the frequency of the received waves differ? Essentially this difference can be attributed to the Doppler effect. thereby ensuring future development and applicability. Usually one service company will not be involved in all information gathering processes. The second simply picks up the sound waves and measures its frequency.e. To combat this apparent downfall. Acceptable compliance ensures data integrity and transfer between WITS compliant systems. where each level builds on the prior adding new functionality and greater flexibility. yet simple predefined transfer format and extends to a fully customizable self defining record/data format in higher levels. Float-Actuated: Involves the use of a buoyant entity which rests at the top of the level. setup two sensors are again used. Mutual understanding is a complex feat. The only effective solution to such a challenge is to develop an open standard protocol – i.4 SAAD SAEED taken to travel between the sensors is known as the transit time and can be used to evaluate fluid velocity. the most popular of these being the Wellsite Information Transfer Specification. As defined above. It provides a critical input volumetric and material balance calculations which required to effectively model underbalanced operations. Thus by measuring the fluid head. This position can then be mechanically translated into a level measurement. Level Level measurement plays a vital role in monitoring evaluating fluid volumes. This technology focuses on the physical medium of transmission rather than high level transfer protocols. rather it focuses on defining how information will be transferred and interpreted (receiving and sending). The lowest WITS level starts with a rigid. Furthermore information transfer (especially WITS) plays a vital role. a level can be calculated. also commonly referred to as radar waves to calculate the distance between the emitting sensor and top of the fluid level. i. Within Underbalanced operations third party computer systems are an extremely important source of data. It is a key technology which enables data to be amalgamated and coherently integrated into data acquisition systems (i. WITS differs from many generic protocols in that it actually provides a set of predefined data structures and record definitions for a variety of common oilfield data groups. Therefore it is very common to obtain data from other computer or data acquisition systems. But with such definitions comes rigidity which hinders future enhancement and growth. can then be deducted from the height the radar is mounted above the bottom of the tank to give levels.

• Storage: Storage is an important issue. usually proprietary. Software This category usually involves a specially designed (usually proprietary) software application which accepts the incoming data stream and converts it to a system-compatible data representation. Optical fiber has immense bandwidth capability and speed ratings and is particularly well suited for creating custom networks in hazardous zones. Data is used both in an operational context (to actually drill and control the well) and an applied analysis context (where key reservoir and production parameters are evaluated). conditioning. The master system handles the display of this information which is achieved by specialized data viewers. efficient amalgamation and efficient access. The master system has several sub components which include. These technologies are complex in nature as they usually involve the implementation of both standard technologies which provide the link between model components as well as proprietary methods which enable access to the heart of a company specific acquisition (master) system. Hardware Hardware based interfaces are usually in the form of • Analogue to digital converters (A/D converters): These devices convert received raw data signals (usually voltages) into digital representations for use in computer systems. Optical fiber: Optical fiber is now starting to gain limited prominence in underbalanced operations. but also to facilitate and enforce safe operational practices. Optical fiber technology is also one of the enabling technologies for real-time underbalanced operations. • 5 Proprietary cards: These are specialized. with the most popular being the successive approximation type. Master The master system controls and manages the data acquisition process. It is important to note the process involved within the interface. Network (Cat 5): Ethernet cables are used in many industries around the world to transfer terabytes of data daily. may simply not be a straight conversion into another form. Hence the techniques used are heavily based on signal processing theory and high technology electronics. It may also include some form of signal processing. enhancement or even modification. Interfaces act as a high order logical abstraction which encapsulates complexity thereby negating the requirement for each component in the model to be aware of implementation mechanisms for the entire system. Interfaces can be divided into two broad categories. The data representation is then either output as an additional stream or possibly directly manipulated into a database. It is used in conjunction with appropriate media converters at each end. they not only provide the means to integrate and incorporate data into the system. Other prevalent converters exist including those based on counting and tracking techniques and integrating techniques. Raw data manipulation is increasingly important due to the advent of near-time underbalanced analytical models. The master system co-ordinates manipulation interaction and resultant solutions. The interface essentially translates or converts the raw data signal/value into a format (either electrical or binary) which can be correctly interpreted by the data acquisition system. due to the enormous and ever increasing amounts of data acquired. Interface technologies are essential to the data acquisition system. Data Acquisition: Underbalanced Operations Underbalanced data acquisition is a complex collection of data sources and resources networked together to provide not only a coherent data source for parameters critical to underbalanced operations and applications. The type of serial transfer depends on whether a device supplies it’s on clock value (to synchronize bus times to). hardware cards that accept a well defined specific signal and convert it into a specified format.IADC/SPE 81630 • • • UNDERBALANCED DATA ACQUISITION: A REAL-TIME PARADIGM majority of sensor information (usually 4 – 20 mA for analogue systems or specific digital signals) to the interface. Trends and graphical representation play an important role in an operational and analysis context. especially as part of localized subnet in non hazardous zones. Interface Once data has been transmitted from the source via a particular transmission technology it must pass through an appropriate interface. To cope with such stringent requirements data is usually stored in complex database systems. • Manipulation: Raw data may need to be manipulated via particular mathematical techniques and algorithms. which enable concurrent querying. Therefore to appease these requirements the main aim(s) of a modern underbalanced data acquisition system may be defined as follows. Network cables provide a viable and efficient means of information/data transfer. Serial: Serial transfer is one of the fundamental transfer mechanisms in computing. which convert analog and digital signals into optical signals (of a particular wavelength) and visa versa. but define an interaction model whereby various components can communicate. It co-ordinates received information and formalizes data interaction behavior. Many types of A/D converters exist. . It is used as part of low level data transfer usually within a particular data acquisition system. • Display: Underbalanced data holds a wealth of information. • Transfer: Transfer encompasses transmitting the information from the master system to another third party.

It is this very fact of clever technical interaction and multi-source management which makes underbalanced data acquisition an entity in itself. operations are fraught with potential risks and hazards. as presented in Fig. To monitor down hole properties (pressure. the system may automatically shut the well in). In other words it is the glue providing seamless integration and communication between the various groups. By the very nature of underbalanced drilling. To facilitate productivity estimation. This concept coupled with the aims above necessitates the need for data from a myriad of sources. Traditional acquisition systems have typically only concentrated on one of these domains and then also the focus has been on a particular petroleum discipline. The policies further describe varying level of operational entities or situations. These policies specify both the operational procedures to be followed as well as critical parameter ranges to be adhered to. well planning and operational considerations. To provide data critical for safe underbalanced operations. Now that the system has been defined. The system takes appropriate safety actions and operates in a restricted manner. with the most common being some form of alert or alarm levels. which are then customized and enhanced for the specified project based on geological. rate data. To facilitate formation damage characterization. which define a set of atomic states and associated predicates governing behavior and transitions. temperature. 2. As can be seen in this figure the IADC/SPE 81630 original system model is simply augmented with one extra component. Each state has an associated level of system functionality and a specification of actions to be executed depending on . level. Normal state: Where all parameters are within specified limits and system functions are working to fully designed functionality and capacity. weight on bit. (For example levels in tanks have exceeded some predefined criteria but are not critical at this stage. block position).6 SAAD SAEED • • • • • • • • • • To provide data enabling the initiation and maintenance of a downhole underbalanced state. The states define a set of conditions the system may be in at any time and are based on a variety of parameters depending on system context and focus. To facilitate reservoir evaluation. torque. To implement an underbalanced safety policy which monitors key parameters and takes appropriate actions at specific safety triggers. 3. It is this policy which is then implemented into the safety system. Safety policies are compiled by the amalgamation of cumulative safe working practices of the service companies and operators. Safety policies are vital to both the operational practices and safe management of a project. Low-level warning state: Where certain select variables have exceeded some preset limits. The underbalanced data acquisition system is now additionally required to independently monitor and enforce a specified underbalanced safety policy. electromagnetic and nuclear data. This complexity is managed by maintaining each acquisition group as a self contained entity. At the basic level they are all simply state machines. • Safety system: Monitors critical parameters and executes predefined safety actions. lets consider the model upon which it is based. rates. Safety systems are many and varied and though they are typically company specific (proprietary). their core functionality is based on the same fundamental foundations. This condition may simply set off an audible alarm on an operator terminal). 1. The added complexity of underbalanced data acquisition is not apparent in the revised model. To monitor drilling parameters (depth. directional information. electro-magnetic and nuclear data). To clarify the concept lets consider Fig. which can be broadly divided into two main categories: Surface data: All data acquired above and including the BOP’s. reservoir. In this oversimplified scenario the safety system is defined by a number of states which define three alert levels. 2. rpm. The surface data include pressure. To monitor and characterize injected and produced fluids – phases. (For example the ESD button is pushed or a huge slug of hydrocarbons renders operations unable to continue. 1). rate of penetration. and the system is in a limited operational mode. Underbalanced drilling can be conceptually thought of as well testing while drilling (as fluids are produced throughout the drilling phase). 3. But the addition of a symbiotic safety system component is vital. The underbalanced acquisition system is an interface which abstracts these separate entities and provides a coherent and unified approach to data collection and management. properties. Subsurface data: All data acquired below the BOP’s. temperature. From a system model perspective underbalanced data acquisition is simply an extension of the basic data acquisition model (presented in Fig. from simple warning states (such as high pressure in a noncritical sensor) to full emergency situations (such as emergency shutdown conditions) and associated actions that must be taken by personnel and the safety system. High-level alert state: Where critical parameters have exceeded safety margins and/or there has been a system failure. as technical details and multi-source requirements are abstracted into the various component categories. Underbalanced balanced data acquisition transcends these bounds and takes a truly multidisciplinary approach by combining several discrete data acquisition systems/groups including: • Well testing • Mud logging data • Drilling data • Downhole data It is important to state that such broad data requirements introduce massive complexity. including downhole in situ data such as pressure. temperature. To enable the accurate tracking and verification of components which comprise underbalanced material balance.

geological sample catchers. with only one device able to broadcast at a time. Real-time data processing: This involves processing data when acquired and possible subsequent transfer. Downhole equipment: Includes downhole tools such as MWD. This scheme ensures that data is effectively monitored and appropriate actions taken. Devices communicate via a broadcast scheme where each device broadcasts its information (in the form of logical packets) over the shared media to all attached devices. They are usually owned by the user (company which owns the devices attached to the network) and have high data communication speeds. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the operations of each listed component above and as to how they fit together to perform an underbalanced operation. They enable each logical network cluster to be abstracted and implemented independently of each other. Data cannot be delivered instantaneously. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss real-time and near real-time as separate entities and for the remainder of this paper the distinction will be ignored. data transfer schemas and large distances between devices (i. Downstream: Includes the surface separation system (test separators). which defines safe ranges and logical actions to be taken in various scenarios. where each affects the design and implementation of the other. choke manifolds. remote locations information transfer). Well control equipment: Includes wellhead. Data Acquisition: Underbalanced: Real-Time Realm Underbalanced data acquisition involves the careful combination of a number of data sources and technologies. evaluate and manage operations. This independence enables . But today with advances in networking and telecommunication technology. as (simplistically) transit time is a function of the carrier technology and data size. But how is an underbalanced data acquisition system actually implemented. LANs form an important component in the overall real-time operations scheme. information broadcast is a mutually exclusive process. thereby ushering in the age of real-time operations. the rig site is usually equipped with its own independent LAN whilst the operator and service companies have their own independent LANs. as data acquisition is not mutually exclusive. to a destination withholding inherent limiting delays. immediately when acquired. which is deemed critical. Rather it is more practical and efficient to connect devices to interconnected communications networks. BOP stack. The aim of real-time operations is simple and intuitive. Thus. This subset is used to provide redundancy in case portions of the master system fail. including but not limited to. all data (raw or conditioned) can now be delivered in real-time directly from the field into a client’s office. traditionally a single building or site. As can be seen the fundamental technologies described earlier are all utilized to gather data in a general setup. System functionality is further augmented by rules governing transitions – which are formulated from a specified underbalanced safety policy. Let’s briefly consider each in turn. Networking Technologies Traditionally many devices have communicated with each other by a direct device to device connection. the point to point scheme is impractical. which may either be transfer or processing.e. the safety system independently monitors a subset of the acquired data. In data acquisition real-time data transfer relates to transfer of data from a source. The two most common types of networks used within real-time underbalanced data acquisition can be divided into two broad categories.e. storage and transport related equipment. drilling related equipment. As depicted in the model definition. 2. for instance. compressors and pumps. The foundations of real-time operations are a gamut of networking and data management technologies. Two broad categories of underbalanced real-time operations exist: 1. On the other hand the term near realtime has started gaining wider prominence in industry. This analysis further translates into state machine actions.IADC/SPE 81630 UNDERBALANCED DATA ACQUISITION: A REAL-TIME PARADIGM pathway to the state. • Networking technologies • Security • Data size and storage These core focuses (or enabling technologies) interweave to enable real-time operations to effectively. rotating control head. network interface cards) connected to each other via a common medium. to a limited and carefully filtered subset. LANs are characterized by a number of devices equipped with transmitter/receiver couples (i. gas generation. Rather data acquisition and equipment setup form a symbiotic relationship. • Local Area Networks (LAN) • Wide Area Networks (WAN) Local Area Networks Local area networks cover a small geographic location. In reality actual state diagrams are extremely involved and complex. encapsulating every conceivable system state (or condition) and formalizing actions. Typically in the past this data has only been available within the field during operations. which involved proprietary interfaces and protocols. accurately and safely transfer information. To examine this question a typical operational setup needs to be examined. Real-time data transfer: This involves transferring data when acquired. Near real-time relates to real-time plus related processing time before data can be transmitted. Real-time can be defined as “the time an actual process occurs”. A general underbalanced operational setup is composed of the following basic elements: Upstream equipment: Includes injection equipment. It is to perform specified tasks at the time of process execution. This data is not only vital for operational success but empowers the end user to efficiently and accurately analyze. The monitored data is then analyzed through the safety policy model. But real-time data transfer relates to the initiation of data transfer 7 at time of acquisition. But today with the added complexity of interaction requirements. As the medium is shared.

e. The setup was achieved by firstly creating a local intranet (or LAN) on site. Data was acquired into the system via . As there is no outside access. Many techniques have been developed both in networking and data management to address security. • SSL: Secure socket layers is a public key cryptographic scheme used for user authentication and encryption. The networks themselves are characterized by inter-weaved switching nodes. network architecture will be briefly examined. A full underbalanced data acquisition setup was implemented on a remote location with minimal infrastructure. A common architecture being employed today to transmit and query information is known as the Client-Server architecture. The aim was to transmit data not only around the rig site but also directly into the client offices and concurrently into the service companies processing centers in Houston. Usually data is acquired and made available onsite via the master system using a LAN. It also enables multiple channels by extending circuit switching technology. • Circuit switching: involves establishing a physical end to end communication pathway between two devices. the private key is secret and is used to decrypt data which was encrypted using the associated public key. but the most credible and widely implemented are based on a technique known as public IADC/SPE 81630 key cryptography. The public key is readily available (distributed readily) and is used to encrypt data. This technique uses a pair of digital keys to encrypt data. • ATM: Asynchronous transfer mode is an evolution from frame relay in which fixed length packets (or frames) are used. ranging from user authentication to intruder detection to system security and management. data and requests. Packets are received at nodes and routed appropriately to the final destination. but such a solution is characterized by high level of security. Further to network technologies. WAN can provide the link between discrete LANs and play an important role in underbalanced real-time operations. as servers are relegated to data management and only provide results once queried by respective individual clients. This achievement covered both the service company and client company including the rig floor and separator systems. 4. No dedicated pathway is setup in this technique. This inherent multi-source nature generates copious amounts of data which need to be managed effectively and efficiently. Security does not simply encapsulate encryption rather it encompasses a plethora of issues. data can be transmitted in an unprotected form. Clients generate requests and handle results. Communication is achieved by formulating a path traversing various interconnected nodes. but for data to be transferred from remote locations discrete LANs need to be interconnected. which route data traffic to the appropriate destination. • Frame Relay: is a connection oriented packet switching technique.8 SAAD SAEED implementation to be independent of design and provides flexibility in real-time topologies. Specialized hardware and software may be required to implement VPN. which is usually part of the rig LAN is transferred to the client(s) via a WAN. each computer on a network is designated as either a client or server. LANs enable data to be distributed internally. within a secure LAN). by combining digital paths and switches. • VPN: Virtual private networks create a secure private ‘virtual’ network over a hostile network. whilst servers are dedicated machines which manage processes. thereby all traffic between connected devices (via defined path) is routed appropriately at each node. In the real-time underbalanced operation sphere security is vital as data is of a sensitive nature. To achieve this distribution. Data size and storage is an entire field in itself which employs advances in database theory and data structures (such as B-trees) to effectively manage data. an intuitive network topology was devised and can be seen in Fig. Therefore transmission of unprotected data over a hostile of insecure network (i. which may then be further connected to a WAN (or a point to point scheme) to deliver data directly to a specified destination. WANs are usually implemented using one of the following technologies. Data acquired onsite. • Data encryption before transmission: Data is encrypted before sending over the network. Security Security is an important factor in real-time operations as data is of a highly valuable and confidential nature. This architecture is an efficient and effective means of implementing a real-time data acquisition system. Case study This section will present a brief overview of an actual underbalanced real-time operation from a data transfer perspective. SSL is implemented in most popular browsers and hence a preferential security technique. In contrast. Within this scheme. The pair consists of a public key and associated private key. • Packet switching: involves the transmission of small discrete quantities of data (known as packets). Wide Area Network Wide area networks cover a large geographic area and are typically implemented using a common carrier over several companies’ hardware. Data Size and Storage Underbalanced data acquisition as discussed earlier combines data from a number of sources. The following techniques are a select group being readily used to address this issue. A logical connection is then reserved for the connection.e. • Intranet transfer: Data is only transferred within a private intranet (i. But how are they connected? Connection is usually achieved by connecting them to a WAN. Real-time operations combine all the elements presented above and much more to provide information transfer and management. over a public WAN) is highly undesirable. • ISDN: Integrates Services Digital Network is a technology in which both voice and data are combined over a single medium.

Dake. Peterson.: Modern Well Test Analysis. whilst the other into service company processing centers. . This ability empowers an individual to manage..B. But data size was aptly and efficiently handled with proprietary algorithms and techniques. Massey. by providing the ability to deliver and display information locally or globally in real-time. Stallings. Prentice Hall International Inc.N. An underbalanced acquisition system is an entity in itself.: Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook. Palo Alto (2000). The field implementation demonstrated a successful and highly efficient underbalanced real-time operation. The actual transfer protocol was proprietary but is based on the network and data concepts presented above. Richardson (1992). and Davie. I would also like to thank Derrick Lewis. The receiving servers were then used to serve client computer queries on the respective local LANS. Sarah and Kinza for their support and help. evaluate.: Computer Networks A Systems Approach. R. Shella. H. R.H. • Security: Intranet only transfers were used to ensure security and was implemented by using two satellite transmissions. The second link was into the service company office where again a receiving server was setup. 3. Murray Williams. The first link was directly into the client office. A special thanks to Saeed. Data was broadcast to the client and service company enabling real-time analysis and diagnosis. and analyze the underbalanced operation at a level which is unprecedented. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.S. W: Data and Computer Communications. Petroway. Tim Wiemers and Sara Shayegi for their support. Realtime technologies have further added to the mix. 9 Acknowledgments I would like to thank the management of Halliburton Energy Services for permission to prepare and present this paper.IADC/SPE 81630 UNDERBALANCED DATA ACQUISITION: A REAL-TIME PARADIGM sensors as described above and maintained in a primary server. 2. 5. McGraw-Hill Professional. New Jersey (2000).W. 6. It achieves this objective through a careful amalgamation of specialized techniques and established practices. which aims to provide high quality pertinent data.S. • Data size: Only a shared 64 kbps bandwidth data line was available so data size became an issue. Amsterdam (1995). Horne. 7. Bradley. Elsevier.: Fundamentals Of Reservoir Engineering. from processing raw data signals to monitoring safety systems. 4. As data was received it was continuously (and in realtime) transmitted in it’s entirety through both satellite links.: Mechanics Of Fluids. B. Perry. San Francisco (2000). No unprotected networks were traversed. and Green D.P.L. Many issues were faced in regard to security and data size and quantity. References 1. where a receiving server was setup. London (1989). L. B. from simple data queries to complex graphical presentations. Society of Petroleum Engineers. Chapman & Hall. The results of design and implementation in regards to these were. et al: Petroleum Engineering Handbook. A Computer-Aided Approach. L. The primary server was additionally configured as a border router connected to two independent point to point satellite links. Conclusion Underbalanced data acquisition is a complex multisource system. one into the client’s office. New York (1997).

1 – Data acquisition: basic system model Fig. 2 – Data acquisition: underbalanced system model IADC/SPE 81630 .10 SAAD SAEED Fig.

IADC/SPE 81630 UNDERBALANCED DATA ACQUISITION: A REAL-TIME PARADIGM Fig. 4 – Case study: real-time operations setup 11 . 3 – Safety system state machine example Fig.