Bottom line benefits justify deepwater IWS
Installing intelligent well systems
in multi-zone completions pays off despite challenges
Stefano di Vincenzo

Eni E&P

Michele Arena


Three possible scenarios, a Base Case (left) and two alternatives, (center and right) were postulated.
(Illustrations courtesy Schlumberger) [SOURCE: SPE 133080 Figure 2].


eepwater development presents many
challenges, from drilling to completion to production. This is the story of
an extremely complex set of challenges that were addressed successfully
offshore Nigeria, returning significant benefits to the operator in the form of an increase
in net present value of 15% and an increase in
overall reservoir recovery factor of 6%.

Setting the scene

About 37 miles (60 km) offshore Nigeria,
in about 2,132 ft (650 m) of water, several turbidite sand lobes located at different levels
constitute a high-permeability reservoir with
numerous mud-filled channels providing potential isolating barriers. The reservoir consists of a northern lobe and a southern lobe,
subdivided in three levels, A, B, and C. A total
of eight wells were drilled initially, all targeting level A. Wells 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 terminated
in the northern lobe and wells 4 and 7 terminated in the southern lobe. In 2005, an eighth
well was drilled that, while targeting level A,
also penetrated levels B and C, confirming
the complex nature of the reservoir and calling for a reassessment of completion options.
The team was faced with several challenges, both technical and legal. Under Nigerian
law, each zone in a multi-zone completion
must be isolated and monitored. On the technical side, sand management and crossflow
were the major issues.
After appropriate engineering study, the
following objectives and challenges were
• Well control—three fully separated, monitored and controlled zones were to be deployed in a single completion run.
• Equipment clearance—very tight clearances between upper and lower completion units and between tubulars were
• Zonal allocation—Downhole zonal allocation must comply with Nigerian law.

• Zonal isolation—high integrity isolation
was required for selective isolation and
• Well position—water depth required a
dynamically positioned rig.
The first step was to see if a single-well intelligent well systems (IWS) completion was
technically possible, given the constraints
posed by the reservoir conditions, the dimensions of available completion equipment and
compliance with the law. If the first step was
deemed to be feasible, the second step would
compare different alternatives to evaluate

Attention to detail
facilitates decision

During the evaluation phase, and before
the final completion decision was taken, the
team was faced with a complex set of economic and technical alternatives. Initially, the
plan was to consider only existing technologies applied to three single-zone horizontal
open hole gravel pack completions and dualzone cased hole gravel pack completions. As
third option there was the new technologies
applied to a single deviated well completed
with triple IWS and frac pack for sand management. The well would produce commingled from all three isolated levels, with
precise downhole monitoring of each level to
comply with Nigerian law.
After some study, the Base Case was removed from consideration because of problems experienced in previous wells with open
hole gravel pack completions. Thus, alternatives 1 and 2 were all that remained. To make
the project profitable in the long term, a gas
injector completion was added. Accordingly,
the final decision was between the following
alternative scenarios:
Alternative No. 1 (four wells)
• One single producer (level B)
• One dual zone producer with IWS (levels
A and C)

• One dual zone producer with IWS (levels
A and B)
• One triple zone gas injector (levels A, B,
and C commingled).
Alternative No. 2 (three wells)
• One triple zone producer with IWS (levels A, B, and C)
• One dual zone producer with IWS (levels
A and B)
• One triple zone gas injector with IWS
(levels A, B, and C commingled).

First step – Completion
design feasibility

Working as a team to ensure engineering
and operational compatibility, operator and
Schlumberger engineers developed a triple
upper zone IWS completion with a lower zone
stacked packed gravel pack completion. The
lower completion consisted of three independent stacked packed gravel pack assemblies,
each with an isolation packer to separate
them from each other, a gravel pack circulation sleeve to allow zonal fluid returns during pack installation, and 7-in. wire-wrapped
screens to isolate the gravel in the annulus.
The upper completion consists of two 2
7/8-in. flow-control valves with pressure
gauges. These are run inside the lower
completion to control flow from the middle
and lower zones. In addition, a 3 ½-in. flowcontrol valve and gauges are run above the
lower completion to control production from
the upper zone.

Second step – Decision
factors weighed

The final decision boiled down to one of
implementation cost, or CAPEX, followed by
the net present value of expected incremental production. This, too, had its complexities.
Capex for a triple zone IWS cost 35% more
than that of a dual zone IWS. In addition, capex for the contract engineering required to
integrate sand management media amounted

Reprinted from the March 2011 edition of OFFSHORE
Copyright 2011 by PennWell Corporation

The main advantages of the option chosen are as follow: • Reduced capex—One well to drill and complete. The interval distance between layers was 102-ft (31 m) between the bottom of level A and the top of level B. screens despite the fact that clearance between the 9 5/8-in. Drilling one less well would save about $24 million. The AFE was re-paid within 15 months of production. or subsequently during the life of the reservoir. For the well drilled with the triple IWS completion and the well drilled with the dual IWS completion. This affected completion equipment length for each zone. Safety valve Cement and formation behind perforations 9. Alternative 2 implementation Seven-inch sand screens were selected over 6 5/8-in. Flow path through the completion shows how each zone’s production makes its way through the completion. Production from level C would be controlled with concurrent ability to exercise conformance and depletion control. • Zonal control—Provides the ability to react to premature water breakthrough or early depletion of a zone. expected incremental production for the triple zone completion versus the dual zone completion was more than 1 MMbbl.851-in. considered sufficient to prevent damage to the control lines and prevent swabbing during upper completion run-in. . casing and the screens was less than 1 in. On the other hand.01-in. were adequate to allow effective distribution of the gravel pack while ensuring sufficient clearance for control lines.8. The well’s maximum deviation of 32.7625” Radial clearances.DRILLING & COMPLETION A triple upper zone IWS completion (left) and a stacked packed gravel pack lower zone completion (right) were designed. This was because the added strength of the larger screens was deemed significant during run-in and later when the well was put on production. When the total field development solution was taken into account. To ensure long-term reliability.5% versus the plan of 15%. and 105-ft (32 m) from the bottom of level B to the top of level C. 43-ft (13 m) for level B and 34-ft (10.7% to 31.625” productioncasing ID drift .525” 9 5/8” Production packer 3 1/2” Row control valve 2_’ flow control valvesmultistep fully hydraulic Flat pack for Intelligent Completion 9 5/8” Gravel pack packer Gravel pack assembly 7” Wire wrapped screens Blast joint 9 5/8” Gravel pack packer 6” Multi-ported seal assembly Gravel pack assembly 2 7/8” Down hole gauges 2 7/8” Flow control valve 7” Wire wrapped screens 9 5/8” Gravel pack packer Gravel pack assembly Electrical cable Blast joint 6” Multi-ported seal assembly 2 7/8” Down hole gauges 2 7/8” Flow control valve 7” Wire wrapped screens to a 15% increase. engineers were careful to avoid placing flow-control valves opposite perforations. [SOURCE: SPE 133080 Figure 8].5 m) for level C. A 6-in.25 mm) when the connections were made up so the lines were protected across several joints. 2 offered some very attractive benefits. [SOURCE: SPE 133080 Figure 1]. (0. cumulative oil produced reached normally expected levels seven months ahead of time and six months ahead of the most optimistic expectations. versus the other options. To protect the control lines. while tight. net present value of the well increased by 15% and reservoir recovery factor was calculated to have risen from 24. • Increased production—Additional production was expected due to gas lifting from level A helping to lift production from levels B and C. These featured self-aligning connections that aligned the grooves within 0. control and telemetry lines for the flow-control valve and gauges. This also allowed circulation during stab-in. which was 15-ft (4. Results exceed expectations Planned versus actual costs for alternative No.5 m) for level A. IWS material capex came in as planned at 35%.1°/100-ft was considered adequate to avoid problems during run-in or gravel packing operations. multi-ported bonded seal assembly isolated the two lower zones while allowing passage of hydraulic and electrical 7” wire wrapped screens for Sand Control assembly Clearance CSG/Screens = 0. Each zone’s contribution is controlled and monitored using the IWS control-valves and gauges before it is commingled for its ultimate journey to the surface production facility. grooved blast joints were positioned opposite each perforated interval. A complete subsea facility equipment and installation cost for one well would be saved. It should be noted that these benefits assumed the IWS would perform reliably. alternative No. [SOURCE: SPE 133080 Figure 7]. 2 were encouraging. IWS service capex was less than 12. Radial clearance between flow-control valves and the sand screens was 0. All flow-control valves were checked to ensure their operating range accommodated the expected production profiles for each valve aperture position and achieved optimum drawdown. and the overall well capex difference was reduced to less than 6% against the planned 23%.05%. Finally. well capex required to install the triple zone completion added 23% to the overall cost.5° with a maximum dogleg severity of 3. • Flow diagram illustrates how each zone flows through the completion to its ultimate commingling at the top. On the production side.