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Sand-face Completions Enter the Real Time Age with a One-of-a-Kind

Downhole Visualization Tool
Tommy Grigsby, Ricki Jannise, Raymond Rubio, and Darrin Towers, Halliburton

Copyright 2012, Offshore Technology Conference

This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 30 April3 May 2012.
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference 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 OTC copyright.

The operation of downhole sand-face tools has relied upon depth measurements, downhole indicators that use applied tension
or compression noted on the surface weight indicator, as well as hydraulic pressure in order to verify service-tool positions in
relation to the sand-face assembly. This strategy has worked well in the past. However, with field developments with
increasing well depths, higher-angled wells with increasingly complex geometry, and increasing intricacy in sand-face tool
systems, the need for additional methods to aid tool operators in locating and communicating service-tool positions has
become apparent. Also, modeling the effects of the pumped treatment on the tool system and work string in real time will
assist in understanding when, and if, the tool system will move out of position.
The introduction of multiple-zone one-trip sand-face completion systems developed for applications in the ultradeepwater Lower Tertiary play of the Gulf of Mexico has led to the development of a visualization tool that provides the tool
operator with additional information to validate conventional tool-locating methods as well as providing a communication
interface to communicate the tool information to others. This innovative visualization tool is a software program known as
the Real Time Visualization Service (RTVS). The RTVS package provides detailed visualization of the entire sand-face
assembly, including the service string, providing the tool operator and observers with another tool-location validation method
along with an exceptional pre-job planning tool. The visualization software provides the capability to monitor operations at
the rig site or remotely from a real-time monitoring site or home personal computer.
Introduction: Development Drivers for Real Time Downhole Visualization
There are a number of factors that have converged to drive the development of the real time downhole visualization
capability. First, well depths and well deviations are increasing. The Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico has potential
well depths to 33,000 feet while other areas in the Deepwater Golden Triangle (Brazil & Angola) (Gue, 2009) use horizontal
sand face completions with increasing horizontal lengths. Second, sand face completions have become increasingly complex
as interval lengths have increased and interval segmentation is required to effectively stimulate the reservoir. Third, the
higher rig rates for deepwater have highlighted the need to reduce work string trips and time by using tools that are multifunctional, adding further complexity.
Traditional methods to locate service tool positions in a sand-face completion rely upon pipe measurements, or set down
weight applied down the workstring and transmitted through the gravel pack service tool to an indicator nipple, which will
provide a surface indication of weight being applied. Other methods include using hydraulic pressure, and fluid circulation to
further confirm tool positioning. With the increasing well depths coupled with high well angles, locating the proper tool
position and the appropriate set-down weight can be challenging, due to the friction caused by pipe drag against the casing.
Also, multizone completion systems (Burger,, 2010) typically include multiple places where the service tool locator can
set down. Finding the correct tool position is critical. To further aggravate the issue, pumping cooler fluids downhole during
the gravel pack, or fracpac treatment, the combination of thermal cooling and workstring ballooning caused by increased
treating pressure, reduces the applied set down load. The need for a fourth method to confirm tool positions is the genesis for
creating the real time downhole visualization tool. The RTVS system will use data from hook load, block movement,
annulus pressure, and tubing pressure, along with a sophisticated algorithm that compensates for temperature and pipe
ballooning. The program includes a visualization package that depicts the entire bottomhole sand-face assembly, which is
comprised of the packer and screen assembly with the service tool string installed inside. Once on depth, the packer is set,

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anchoring the sand-face assembly. The service string is then released, and the tool positions are determined for squeeze,
circulating, and reverse positions for each interval to be treated.
Completion Planning Process
The completion planning for the RTVS service is a stepped process, similar to what is being done today, with the exception
of more detail in each planning step. The planning process has three phases: Pre-Job Planning, Real Time Monitoring, and
Post Job Analysis.
Pre-Job Planning Pre-job planning is a multi-faceted process. For the purpose of this paper the focus will be on the
procedure generation, specifying the completion components, assembly and inspection of the equipment prior to shipping to
the well site. Once the well completion is defined, a step-by-step completion procedure is created. A detailed completion
schematic will normally accompany the completion procedure and is provided by the service provider. The completion
schematic will list the specific completion equipment for the procedure and provides the proposed component depth, length,
outside diameter, and inside diameter. During the assembly process, equipment dimensions are verified, equipment is drifted
before and after makeup into completion assemblies, and completion assemblies are pressure tested. A sand-face completion
includes many sub assemblies, screens, service tools, and washpipe. All of the assemblies are integrated at the well site as
the equipment is run in the wellbore. Any issue uncovered during installation can result in a non-productive time event.
Preceding the development of the real time visualization tool was the creation of a software tool that provided the
capability to build the as run outer sand-face assembly and insert the inner gravel pack service tool assembly to verify that
there were no service tool outside diameters that would conflict with the inside diameter of the sand-face assembly. The
sand-face assembly and gravel pack service tool assembly were assembled from computer drawings of the actual
components. The software allowed the inner string to be moved to the actual tool positions. This provided an exact
dimensional depiction of the planned sand-face completion assembly (Figure 1) and enabled a computer simulated system
integration test.

Figure 1 Cyberwell drawing of a completion assembly

The real time visualization tool is the next generation of this technology. When used to design a multizone completion
system, during the pre-job planning phase, unwanted interaction between the sand-face equipment and the service string is
avoided. Components can be relocated or changed before any equipment is manufactured or assembled, saving valuable time
and cost. This is done by first constructing the sand-face system and the service tool string in the software. The service
string is moved through the sand-face system to all of its positions virtually, in the software, while watching for any
coincidental interaction between other service string components and sand-face components.
In the past, spread sheets and cad drawings have been used but these tools lack the capability to capture what happens
when the service tool is moved between positions and zones. This required substantial work to view more than one zone at a
time. Long, full-scale CAD layout drawings were often placed on the floor in office area hallways with engineers walking
back and forth checking space outs and interferences.
The need for this pre-job simulator becomes evident in multi zone completions, especially with different space outs
between production zones that can cause interference between zones.

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Using the operational data designer during the complete the well on paper (CWOP) exercise, all tool space outs and
procedures can be reviewed quickly before the job is run. Part numbers are entered into the job planner, which then pulls
CAD files and meta data from the servers. Using the length and thread makeup data collected from the servers, the depth is
calculated from one part to the next. During this operation, thread types are checked to make sure that the proper adapters are
used. (See Figures 2 and 3)

Figure 2 View of RTVS pre-job planner tool

Figure 3 View of procedural data for simulation in the RTVS pre-job planner tool

Simulation data is also stored in the meta data files for tools that interact with each other.

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If a tool is provided by an outside vendor, a reference tool can be created out of a similar tool in the CAD data base and
then the reference tool ID, OD, and length can be set to match that of the outside vendor. At the end of this process, a
configuration file is built to be loaded into the RTVS operational data designer for review.
With simple simulation added to the tools that interact with each other, procedures and tool positioning can be reviewed
to be sure that all required states of the tools were properly achieved.
During a pre-job planning exercise, RTVS predicted an unwanted and unavoidable shifting of a valve of a lower zone
when operating in an upper zone. (See Figure 4)

Figure 4 View of simulation run in the RTVS Data Operational Designer tool

The result of the pre-job planning allowed a quick space out change in RTVS followed by re-running the procedures to
confirm that there were no problems detected before sending tools to the job site.
Multizone completions now have the job run through this process to determine if there are any unforeseen problems.
In most cases, the space out of zones will change as new data is provided, during the drilling of the well. The amount of
time from when the decision is made to change the zone depths, lengths, and spacing and running the tools can be as little as
a few days. The changes are easily added and re-simulated. This allows the completion team to concentrate on other aspects
of the job required to install the completion. Using the same configuration data built for the review process, the job is now
ready for real time data.
At this time, tool string and additional data (such as well profile) is loaded into another simulation engine to calculate pipe
stretch under loads, temperatures pressures and flow rates. Corrected pipe length will then be sent to the RTVS real time
visualization display.
Real Time Monitoring - In the 1980s, remote monitoring of drilling operations began (Booth, 2010) but was hindered by the
industry downturn in the late 1980s. Monitoring stimulation treatments became routine in the late 1990s. As the technology
and bandwidth improved, real time operating centers were set up to monitor drilling and stimulation operations. This allowed
subject matter experts to monitor multiple jobs from a central location (Figure 5). The missing piece was the ability to
monitor completion activity. In most cases the real-time center was idle during the well completion. Other automated
monitoring systems that focused on producing fields were in operation, but RTVS is the first that assists with prejob planning
and tool movement during the sand-face completion.
By combining real-time monitoring of the pumping operation, feeding the results of that monitoring into the real time
visualization tools tubing mechanics software engine and allowing it to interact with the virtual system components, a
thorough understanding of what is actually happening down-hole is provided. Real time operation centers can be better used
by also monitoring completions.
Post Job Analysis - When a problem occurs during the completion process, the post job forensic investigation will normally
include reviewing the job procedure to ensure all completion steps were followed, review of morning reports that tend to be

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brief, interviews with the service personnel on location during the job, review of the job log, and if the offending equipment
is retrieved from the well, disassembly and inspection of the equipment. This is a good process but it is not perfect and is

Figure 5 Photograph of Real Time Operations Center

subject to the level of detail caught in the morning reports, job logs, and memories of the service personnel involved running
the completion equipment.
When a well is successfully completed, the post job reports are reviewed and filed away for future use. Future use can be
dictated by a well issue. Reviewing well files can prove to be a difficult task and will depend upon their detail and being
filed correctly. The real time visualization tool software can recall and replay a given job from saved archives. This
playback can be used to investigate and understand what occurred with the down-hole system; enhancing and corroborating
the previously described investigative methods.
Development Hurdles
There are a number of initial requirements for remote monitoring. The appropriate surface sensors must be in place on the rig
and the required bandwidth must be available for transmitting the data. Data transmission distance can be as short as to a
high end computer at the rig site or to a remote monitoring site that may be located thousands of miles away. .
Most of todays rigs have sensors that monitor block movement and hook load, and if not, the sensors can be readily
installed. The plan is to use the data that is being captured to track pipe movement. To compensate for thermal cooling, pipe
ballooning, and pipe drag, an algorithm solver was created to track down-hole tool movement. This must consider pipe-inslips during running the sand-face assembly and tool positioning. The solver was also benchmarked against two existing
solvers. One was used during the drilling process to monitor weight-on-bit and the other was used for coiled tubing
The real time monitoring tool was first beta tested on a system integration test (SIT) conducted in a test well in Carrollton,
Texas. This beta test uncovered a number of issues such as the pipe-in-slips and depth related issues while running in the
well. On depth with the packer set and the gravel pack service tool released from the packer, the solver worked well but did
require addressing several bugs that were uncovered. Once on depth, the solver can be calibrated against the run in position,
movement to the next position, and against each weight down position. The solver was refined so that on a later SIT it
visually depicted and accurately listed the depth where a mule shoe guide was hanging up on an internal shoulder, preventing
further downward movement. The real time monitoring tool is now used on complex SITs.

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Field Case Histories:

Case History 1 The real time visualizer was run on a single trip multizone gravel pack completion in the Far East in early
2010. The well was deviated with an approximate depth of 1,700 meters (~5,577 ft). The RTVS worked well. The job was
performed offshore and was monitored from the on-shore base. Direct phone communication with the rig involved calling the
rigs galley and having the person who answered the phone communicate the message to the rig floor. Direct communication
between the rig floor and the remote monitoring site was an action item noted.
Case History 2 The second job for the RTV was also a single-trip multizone gravel pack completion in the Far East. As
before, this was in a deviated well, this time with a depth of approximately 2,400 meters (~7,874 ft). The system again
worked well with somewhat better communication. Some data connection reliability issues were encountered and noted as
an improvement action item.
Case History 3 The third job was conducted on a stacked two-zone gravel pack at a well depth of 24,000 feet in the Gulf of
Mexico. This was a deep water sub-sea completion from a semi-submersible rig.
Case History 4 The fourth job was the third single-trip multizone gravel pack well completed in the Far East. This well
was again deviated with an approximate depth of 3,700 meters (~12,139 ft). The results of this job were excellent, though
some issues were seen where the drilling operator recalibrated or zeroed out the bit depth. This required the operator of the
RTVS to watch and make adjustments when this event occurred. Automated monitoring for rig floor data changes was an
action item noted.
Case History 5 The latest monitoring job was conducted on a land well using a single trip multizone openhole completion
kit at an approximate depth of 2,000 feet. The well is located in a long established field and the completion consisted of
multiple fracturing and gravel packing operations. All RTVS best practices learned to date were employed:
A thorough and comprehensive pre-job planning (CWOP) with the client where operational procedures were reviewed
and the service tool and completion string interactions were tested using the simulator in the RTVS operational data
designer tool.
Consistent data stream from the rig with the appropriate sampling rate.
Unimpeded views of the completion team and operations on the rig floor.
Direct communications with the completion team via radio phones using an agreed upon call/answer protocol.
Because of the complex and comprehensive nature of the job, it was important that all operational steps be performed as
planned. RTVS proved to be a great real-time aid in ensuring the job stayed on track. At each planned operational step,
RTVS was in constant communication with the completion team, validating the target operation was performed as expected
and answering various team questions during the course of the job (example: How far is service tool component A from
completion string component B?). Figures 6 to 11 are on-the-job snapshots of the RTVS Visualizer display showing
confirmation of all the major operational events as the completion progressed in one zone of the job. Figure 6 confirms the
gravel pack exit ports are open prior to beginning fracturing operations in this zone. Figure 7 validates the frac circulation
sleeve is open allowing pressure to be monitored during fracturing operations. Figure 8 confirms the service tool remained in
the required position during the actual fracturing and gravel packing operations. Figures 9 and 10 confirm all appropriate
service tool and completion string areas have been cleared of residual sand. Finally, Figure 11 confirms all service tool
sleeves are closed and no longer directly communicating with the zone.

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Figure 6 RTVS confirms the upper zone gravel pack port is open before the frac

Figure 7 RTVS confirms the upper zone frac circulation sleeve is open before the frac

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Figure 8 RTVS confirms the service tool is in the upper zone circulating position with the frac head on

Figure 9 RTVS confirms the service tool is in the upper zone initial reverse position after the frac

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Figure 10 RTVS confirms the service tool is in the upper zone final reverse position after the frac

Figure 11 RTVS confirms both upper zone sleeves are closed after the frac

It is now possible to remotely monitor a well completion by using the real time visualization tool. This can be done from a
real time center or a home personal computer. This saves personnel travel time and related expenses and allows more eyes to
view a complex offshore completion. The real time visualization system focuses on the three completion planning aspects:
pre-job planning, real time monitoring of downhole tools during the completion process, and post-job analysis.
The real time visualization system has already proven its value in monitoring a job as it is executed by validating the
location of tool positions. The system has real value as a pre-job planning tool for most downhole tool systems, but
especially those increasingly complex systems like the single-trip multizone sand control system that contain numerous
sleeves, seal bores, position indicator subs, shifters, and positioning tools in these systems. The RTVS system can help to


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insure that no unexpected component interaction occurs through all tool system positions and movements. Also, post job
reviews will be enhanced by replaying and reviewing the recorded tool movement data.
The authors wish to thank the management of Halliburton for facilitating the development of the real time visualization
system and to the dedicated employees who are working to provide our sand-control personnel the tools to improve
completion planning and job execution.
Booth, J.E., Real time Drilling Operations Centers: A History of Functionality and Organizational Purpose The Second Generation, SPE
126017, presented at the 2010 SPE Intelligent Energy Conference and Exhibition, 23-25 March 2010, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Burger, R., Grigsby, T.F., Ross, C., Sevadjian, E., Techentien, B., Single Trip Multiple-Zone Completion Technology has Come of Age
and Meets the Challenging Completion Needs of the Gulf of Mexicos Deepwater Lower Tertiary Play, SPE128323, presented at the
2010 SPE International Symposium and Exhibition on Formation Damage Control held in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, 1012 February
Gue, E.H., The Golden Triangle, 10/7/2009 Oil Investor,

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