Saudi Aramco and Schlumberger to Develop New Technology for Downhole Valves

Saudi Aramco and Schlumberger have executed an agreement to jointly develop a range of new technologies for intelligent completions that will lead to electrically-activated downhole control valves, and would therefore facilitate a theoretically unlimited number of intelligent laterals per well.

"This joint development project is part of Saudi Aramco's overall vision to develop Extreme Reservoir Contact (ERC) wells," said Amin Nasser, vice president of Petroleum Engineering & Development at Saudi Aramco.

"ERC wells are intelligent multilateral wells that do not require individual control lines from the wellhead to each lateral or zone, and therefore theoretically allow an unlimited number of intelligent laterals," added Nasser.

"We are delighted with this expanded collaborative technology development with Saudi Aramco," said Ashok Belani, chief technology officer for Schlumberger.

"Our long history of collaboration has evolved into aggressive joint technology development. The sharing of knowledge and expertise of both companies will result in technology with considerable potential for the oil industry," added Belani.

Saudi Aramco pioneered intelligent Maximum Reservoir Contact (MRC) wells, which attain more than five km of contact with the reservoir through intelligent side laterals of the main wellbore that can be partially or fully opened and closed from the surface. Saudi Aramco's most recently developed field, Haradh Increment III, completed in early 2006 with a production capacity of 300,000 bbls/day, relies on 32 such intelligent MRC wells.

"Smart MRC wells can only have a limited number of laterals (four to five), however, because each downhole control valve requires a mechanical control line to the wellhead," explained Muhammad Saggaf, Manager of Saudi Aramco's EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC)

"ERC wells would relax this requirement by replacing the mechanical lines with electric activation. We envision ERC wells of fifty to a hundred intelligent laterals that would efficiently drain the reservoir and ultimately maximize economic recovery," Saggaf added.

"This project is an illustration of Saudi Aramco's aggressive pursuit of R&D initiatives that include collaborative technology development of next-generation tools and completions," Saggaf said.

The development project will be executed by a technical team comprised of researchers from Saudi Aramco's EXPEC ARC and Schlumberger research and technology centers that include the Schlumberger Dhahran Research Center.

Permanent installation of intelligent completion systems depends on the reliability of the downhole actuation system. The new technology will employ inductive coupling at the connections between the laterals and the main wellbore to ensure long-term operational integrity.

Schlumberger is the world's leading oilfield services company supplying technology, information solutions and integrated project management that optimize reservoir performance for customers working in the oil and gas industry. The company employs more than 70,000 people of over 140 nationalities working in approximately 80 countries.