Shell, QinetiQ to Unveil Fiber-Optic Sensing System

Shell and QinetiQ announced a collaboration to exploit QinetiQ's OptaSense® fiber-optic Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) systems to optimize the development of oil and gas fields. The technology will bring about the ability to use standard telecom fiber-optic cable to detect, discriminate and locate acoustic events during wellbore operations far beyond what is currently available. This will allow improvements in design and execution enabling improved recoveries and lower costs.

The collaboration agreement is a culmination of 18 months of working together on the technology through several successful field trials in Canada. Shell intends to deploy this optical sensing system – based on QinetiQ's existing OptaSense® DAS technology – initially in onshore field development and exploration. Allowing interference-free operation, OptaSense® should overcome some of the challenges faced by conventional systems. The technology has the potential to deliver significant value in the near term, and, because of its wide potential application area, it will also enable longer-term improvements to the management of assets across the life cycle, from exploration to operations. It will be most beneficial to businesses with a heavy investment in hydraulic fracturing (unconventional gas exploration and development) and those with a focus on well and reservoir surveillance.

"Shell technologists were the first to recognize the potential breakthrough innovation of applying QinetiQ's DAS technology currently used for onshore pipeline monitoring during the first field trial in February 2009," said Jeroen Regtien, Vice President, Hydrocarbon Recovery R&D at Shell. "This is another demonstration of how Shell seeks to deliver integrated technology solutions based on proprietary and third-party technologies quickly and efficiently. Given that most of this technology is in existence today in the defence and security industries, we anticipate a relatively low development risk and expect to deploy the first system soon."

"The application of OptaSense to wellbore monitoring is another game changer in our industry. QinetiQ is pleased to have secured the confidence of Shell, a technology and business leader, to collaborate on this important development," says Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of QinetiQ's OptaSense business, the entity that developed the DAS system for application in the oil and gas industry. "Oil and gas are getting harder and more expensive to find and extract. Enabling our clients to access real-time, enhanced information from the reservoir will improve well completion and performance. Superior data will help realize the full potential of both Shell and QinetiQ's acoustic expertise, real-time processing and imaging technology."

As part of this Joint Development Agreement, QinetiQ and Shell research scientists will work in several laboratories in the UK, the Netherlands and the US as well as performing field tests in Canada and the US before rolling out the technology in a commercial setting.