Distributed Fiber Optic Sensors Poised to Remap Upstream Sector

So costly is this insecurity that risk analysts are concluding that sources such as shale oil are better bets for investment and it is possible to link this rationale with divestments in Nigeria. In early 2014, it was reported that Shell was off-loading its 30-percent stake in four Nigerian oil blocks that produce circa 90,000 bopd; in June 2013, Chevron put five of its blocks up for sale; and in December 2012 ConocoPhillips sold its Nigerian unit for $1.79 billion. 

Pipeline security issues serves to increase oil prices, but also provides a compelling case for DFOS uptake.

Well Monitoring

Oilfield services providers are constantly striving to optimize completion techniques and hydrocarbon recovery. The application of hydraulic fracturing techniques to shale formations has pushed US crude oil production to its highest level since 1990 and decoupled the gas price from oil on the North American continent.

To further this trend, DFOS can provide the data needed to help companies move away from a homogenous approach to hydraulic fracture treatments. Benefits include, but are not limited to: identifying and observing fluid movements; noting packer performance; identifying leakages; and an improved understanding of stimulation placement. 

Seismic Acquisition and Permanent Reservoir Monitoring

Enhancing recovery from mature reservoirs is fast becoming a core part of the oil and gas business. Visiongain estimates that in 2013 2.94 million bopd were produced using enhanced oil recovery techniques.

When the cost efficacy achieved with pipeline monitoring is transferred to seismic acquisition DFOS should plug into this theme. The main barrier to existing 4D seismic acquisition techniques (seismic data gathered over time) is upfront cost. Geophone and nodal technology are often viewed as prohibitively expensive given the uncertainty risk attached to any enhanced recovery benefits.

The first steps toward using DFOS as an alternative are being taken. In February 2014, Optasense signed an agreement with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) to supply a 4D seismic solution that will use its distributed acoustic sensing technology.


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