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Publication numberUS20090101329 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/875,464
Publication dateApr 23, 2009
Filing dateOct 19, 2007
Priority dateOct 19, 2007
Also published asWO2009052114A2, WO2009052114A3
Publication number11875464, 875464, US 2009/0101329 A1, US 2009/101329 A1, US 20090101329 A1, US 20090101329A1, US 2009101329 A1, US 2009101329A1, US-A1-20090101329, US-A1-2009101329, US2009/0101329A1, US2009/101329A1, US20090101329 A1, US20090101329A1, US2009101329 A1, US2009101329A1
InventorsNicholas J. Clem, Elmer R. Peterson, Martin P. Coronado
Original AssigneeBaker Hughes Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Water Sensing Adaptable Inflow Control Device Using a Powered System
US 20090101329 A1
Abstract
A device or system for controlling fluid flow in a well includes a flow control element and a water detector. The water detector may actuate the flow control element in response to a measurement of a property of the flowing fluid. The water detector may be a capacitive proximity sensor. The measured property may be a dielectric constant. The flow control element may permit a predetermined amount of fluid flow after being actuated to a closed position. Also, the water detector may measure a property of the fluid flowing after the flow control element is in the closed position. A method for controlling a flow of fluid into a wellbore tubular may include positioning a flow control element along the wellbore tubular; measuring a property of a flowing fluid using a water detector; and actuating the flow control element in response to the measurement.
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Claims(20)
1. An apparatus for controlling a flow of fluid into a wellbore tubular in a wellbore, comprising:
a flow control element configured to control the flow of fluid into the wellbore tubular; and
a water detector operably coupled to the flow control element, the water detector being configured to actuate the flow control element in response to a measurement of a property of the flowing fluid.
2. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the water detector is a capacitive proximity sensor.
3. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the property is a dielectric constant.
4. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the flow control element is configured to permit a predetermined amount of flow of fluid after being actuated to a closed position.
5. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the water detector is configured to measure a property of the fluid flowing after the flow control element has been actuated to the closed position.
6. The apparatus according to claim 1 further comprising a power storage element connected to the flow control element.
7. The apparatus according to claim 6 wherein the flow control element is configured to move between an open position and a closed position based on a charge state of the power storage element.
8. A method for controlling a flow of fluid into a wellbore tubular in a wellbore, comprising:
positioning a flow control element along the wellbore tubular to control the flow of fluid into the wellbore tubular;
measuring a property of a flowing fluid using a water detector; and
actuating the flow control element in response to the measurement.
9. The method according to claim 8 wherein the water detector is a capacitive proximity sensor.
10. The method according to claim 8 wherein the property is a dielectric constant.
11. The method according to claim 8 further comprising flowing a predetermined amount of fluid across the flow control element after the flow control element has been actuated to a closed position.
12. The method according to claim 8 measuring the property of the fluid flowing after the flow control element has been actuated to the closed position.
13. The method according to claim 8 further comprising connecting a power storage element to the flow control element.
14. The method according to claim 13 wherein the flow control element is configured to move between an open position and a closed position based on a charge state of the power storage element.
15. A system for controlling a flow of fluid in a well, comprising:
a tubular positioned in the well;
at least one flow control element positioned along the tubular, the at least one flow control element being configured to control the flow of fluid into the wellbore tubular; and
a water detector operably coupled to the flow control element, the water detector being configured to actuate the flow control element in response to a measurement of a property of a flowing fluid.
16. The system according to claim 15 wherein the water detector is a capacitive proximity sensor.
17. The system according to claim 15 wherein the property is a dielectric constant.
18. The system according to claim 15 wherein the flow control element is configured to permit a predetermined amount of flow of fluid after being actuated to a closed position.
19. The system according to claim 15 wherein the water detector is configured to measure a property of the fluid flowing after the flow control element has been actuated to the closed position.
20. The system according to claim 15 further comprising a power storage element connected to the flow control element.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

1. Field of the Disclosure

The disclosure relates generally to systems and methods for selective control of fluid flow into a production string in a wellbore.

2. Description of the Related Art

Hydrocarbons such as oil and gas are recovered from a subterranean formation using a wellbore drilled into the formation. Such wells are typically completed by placing a casing along the wellbore length and perforating the casing adjacent each such production zone to extract the formation fluids (such as hydrocarbons) into the wellbore. These production zones are sometimes separated from each other by installing a packer between the production zones. Fluid from each production zone entering the wellbore is drawn into a tubing that runs to the surface. It is desirable to have substantially even drainage along the production zone. Uneven drainage may result in undesirable conditions such as an invasive gas cone or water cone. In the instance of an oil-producing well, for example, a gas cone may cause an inflow of gas into the wellbore that could significantly reduce oil production. In like fashion, a water cone may cause an inflow of water into the oil production flow that reduces the amount and quality of the produced oil. Accordingly, it is desired to provide even drainage across a production zone and/or the ability to selectively close off or reduce inflow within production zones experiencing an undesirable influx of water and/or gas.

The present disclosure addresses these and other needs of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In aspects, the present disclosure provides an apparatus for controlling a flow of fluid into a wellbore tubular disposed in a wellbore that intersects a subterranean formation of interest. In embodiments, the apparatus may include a flow control element configured to control the flow of fluid into the wellbore tubular; and a water detector operably coupled to the flow control element. The water detector may be configured to actuate the flow control element in response to a measurement of a property of the flowing fluid. In arrangements, the water detector is a capacitive proximity sensor. In arrangements, the measured property may be a dielectric constant. In embodiments, the flow control element may be configured to permit a predetermined amount of flow of fluid after being actuated to a closed position. Also, the water detector may be configured to measure a property of the fluid flowing after the flow control element has been actuated to the closed position. In one aspect, the apparatus may include a power storage element connected to the flow control element. The flow control element may be configured to move between an open position and a closed position based on a charge state of the power storage element.

In aspects, the present disclosure provides a method for controlling a flow of fluid into a wellbore tubular in a wellbore. The method may include positioning a flow control element along the wellbore tubular to control the flow of fluid into the wellbore tubular; measuring a property of a flowing fluid using a water detector; and actuating the flow control element in response to the measurement.

In aspects, the present disclosure provides a system for controlling a flow of fluid in a well. In one embodiment, the system may include a tubular positioned in the well; at least one flow control element positioned along the tubular, the at least one flow control element being configured to control the flow of fluid into the wellbore tubular; and a water detector operably coupled to the flow control element, the water detector being configured to actuate the flow control element in response to a measurement of a property of a flowing fluid.

It should be understood that examples of the more important features of the disclosure have been summarized rather broadly in order that detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the contributions to the art may be appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the disclosure that will be described hereinafter and which will form the subject of the claims appended hereto.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The advantages and further aspects of the disclosure will be readily appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters designate like or similar elements throughout the several figures of the drawing and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic elevation view of an exemplary multi-zonal wellbore and production assembly which incorporates an inflow control system in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a schematic elevation view of an exemplary open hole production assembly which incorporates an inflow control system in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an exemplary production control device made in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of an powered in-flow control device made in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic of another in-flow control device made in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present disclosure relates to devices and methods for controlling production of a hydrocarbon producing well. The present disclosure is susceptible to embodiments of different forms. There are shown in the drawings, and herein will be described in detail, specific embodiments of the present disclosure with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the disclosure and is not intended to limit the disclosure to that illustrated and described herein. Further, while embodiments may be described as having one or more features or a combination of two or more features, such a feature or a combination of features should not be construed as essential unless expressly stated as essential.

Referring initially to FIG. 1, there is shown an exemplary wellbore 10 that has been drilled through the earth 12 and into a pair of formations 14, 16 from which it is desired to produce hydrocarbons. The wellbore 10 is cased by metal casing, as is known in the art, and a number of perforations 18 penetrate and extend into the formations 14, 16 so that production fluids may flow from the formations 14, 16 into the wellbore 10. The wellbore 10 has a deviated, or substantially horizontal leg 19. The wellbore 10 has a late-stage production assembly, generally indicated at 20, disposed therein by a tubing string 22 that extends downwardly from a wellhead 24 at the surface 26 of the wellbore 10. The production assembly 20 defines an internal axial flowbore 28 along its length. An annulus 30 is defined between the production assembly 20 and the wellbore casing. The production assembly 20 has a deviated, generally horizontal portion 32 that extends along the deviated leg 19 of the wellbore 10. Production devices 34 are positioned at selected points along the production assembly 20. Optionally, each production device 34 is isolated within the wellbore 10 by a pair of packer devices 36. Although only two production devices 34 are shown in FIG. 1, there may, in fact, be a large number of such production devices arranged in serial fashion along the horizontal portion 32.

Each production device 34 features a production control device 38 that is used to govern one or more aspects of a flow of one or more fluids into the production assembly 20. As used herein, the term “fluid” or “fluids” includes liquids, gases, hydrocarbons, multi-phase fluids, mixtures of two of more fluids, water, brine, engineered fluids such as drilling mud, fluids injected from the surface such as water, and naturally occurring fluids such as oil and gas. Additionally, references to water should be construed to also include water-based fluids; e.g., brine or salt water. In accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure, the production control device 38 may have a number of alternative constructions that ensure selective operation and controlled fluid flow therethrough.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary open hole wellbore arrangement 11 wherein the production devices of the present disclosure may be used. Construction and operation of the open hole wellbore 11 is similar in most respects to the wellbore 10 described previously. However, the wellbore arrangement 11 has an uncased borehole that is directly open to the formations 14, 16. Production fluids, therefore, flow directly from the formations 14, 16, and into the annulus 30 that is defined between the production assembly 21 and the wall of the wellbore 11. There are no perforations, and open hole packers 36 may be used to isolate the production control devices 38. The nature of the production control device is such that the fluid flow is directed from the formation 16 directly to the nearest production device 34, hence resulting in a balanced flow. In some instances, packers maybe omitted from the open hole completion.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown one embodiment of a production control device 100 for controlling the flow of fluids from a reservoir into a flow bore 102 of a wellbore tubular (e.g., tubing string 22 of FIG. 1). This flow control may be a function of water content. Furthermore, the control devices 100 can be distributed along a section of a production well to provide fluid control at multiple locations. This can be advantageous, for example, to equalize production flow of oil in situations wherein a greater flow rate is expected at a “heel” of a horizontal well than at the “toe” of the horizontal well. By appropriately configuring the production control devices 100, such as by pressure equalization or by restricting inflow of gas or water, a well owner can increase the likelihood that an oil bearing reservoir will drain efficiently. Exemplary devices for controlling one or more aspects of production are discussed herein below.

In one embodiment, the production control device 100 includes a particulate control device 110 for reducing the amount and size of particulates entrained in the fluids, a flow control device 120 that controls overall drainage rate from the formation, and an in-flow control device 130 that controls the rate or amount of flow area based upon the presence of water content fluid in a flowing fluid. The particulate control device 110 can include known devices such as sand screens and associated gravel packs. The in-flow control device 130 may utilize power supplied by a power source, which may be downhole or at the surface, to selectively actuate a flow control element 132 that is configured to restrict fluid flow into the flow bore 102. The actuation of the flow control element 132 is based on the measurements of a water detector 134 that may be configured to measure one or more properties of the fluid. The property may be a material property (e.g., viscosity, density, etc.) or an electrical property (e.g., dielectric constant, conductivity, etc.). Other illustrative embodiments are discussed below.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown one embodiment of an in-flow control device 140 that may be used to control flow of a fluid into a flow bore 102 of a wellbore tubular, such as a tubing 22 (FIG. 1). The in-flow control device 140 may include a water detector 142, a flow control element 144, and a power circuit 146. The water detector 142 may be positioned downstream or upstream of the flow control element 144 and either inside or outside of the in-flow control device 140. In embodiments, the water detector 142 may be responsive to the presence of water in the fluid flowing through the in-flow control device 140. For example, upon detecting water or detecting a preprogrammed threshold amount of water, the water detector 142 may transmit a signal to the flow control element 144 or actuate a switch in a circuit containing the flow control element 144. The flow control element 144 may be actuated between an open position and a closed position after receiving the signal or after actuation of the switch. The flow control element 144 may be a sliding sleeve valve, a choke, a poppet valve, a throttle, or any similar device configured to partially or completely restrict flow from the in-flow control device 140 to the flow bore 102. The power circuit 146 may be configured to supply electrical power to the water detector 142 and/or the flow control element 144. The power circuit may include a downhole power generator such as a turbine 148 in the flow bore 102 that is energized by the production fluid flowing therethrough. In embodiments, the power circuit may include a conductor (not shown) that supplies power from the surface, a downhole battery, a piezoelectric generator or other like devices.

In one mode of operation, the flow control element 144 is initially set in an open position to allow fluid flow across the in-flow control device 140. As long as the water detector 142 does not detect water, the flow control element 144 remains in the open position. Upon detecting water, the water detector 142 transmits a signal or actuates a switch that causes the power circuit 146 to energize the flow control element 144. When energized, the flow control element 144 shifts from the open position to the closed position. The flow control element 144 may remain in the closed position permanently or may revert to the open position either on its own or upon the occurrence of a pre-determined condition.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is shown schematically one embodiment of an in-flow control device 160 for controlling the flow of fluid using water detection. The in-flow control device 160 may include a dielectric sensor 162, an electromagnetic valve 164, and a power circuit 166. The dielectric constant for water is much greater than that of hydrocarbons. Accordingly, the dielectric sensor 162 may be configured as a capacitive proximity sensor or other suitable sensor that measures, directly or indirectly, the dielectric constant of the fluid in the vicinity of the in-flow control device 160 to determine whether water is present. In one configuration, the dielectric sensor 162 may include a control device such as a switch 168 that controls the supply of power to the valve 164. The power circuit 166 may be configured to supply electrical power to the dielectric sensor 162 and the valve 164. In embodiments, the power circuit 166 may be connected to a downhole power source 170 such as a turbine, a battery, a piezoelectric generator or other suitable power source. The power circuit 166 may also include power storage elements 172, which may be capacitors. In one arrangement, the electromagnetic valve 164 may be configured to be in an open position to permit flow along the in-flow control device 160. The electromagnetic valve 164 may be shifted to the closed position by charging the power storage element 172. The electromagnetic valve 164 may revert to the open position after the power storage element 172 loses its charge. The valve 164 may be a sliding sleeve valve, a poppet valve, a throttle, or any similar device configured to partially or complete restrict flow from the in-flow control device 160 to the flow bore 102 (FIG. 3). Additionally, in arrangements, the electrical power may be used to activate a “smart material” such as magnetostrictive material, an electrorheological fluid that is responsive to electrical current, a magnetorheological fluid that is responsive to a magnetic field, or piezoelectric materials that are responsive to an electrical current. These “smart” materials also may be used to actuate a flow restriction element between an open position and a closed position.

In one mode of operation, the valve 164 is initially set in an open position to allow fluid flow across the in-flow control device 160. The downhole power source 170 by itself or in conjunction with the power storage element 172 may energize the dielectric sensor 162. As long as the dielectric sensor 162 does not detect water, the electromagnetic valve 164 remains in the open position. It should be understood that the in-flowing fluid may always have some amount of water. Thus, the dielectric sensor 162 may be configured to take an action upon measuring a dielectric constant indicative of a given quantity of water. Upon detecting water or a specified amount of water, the dielectric sensor 162 actuates the switch 168 to close the circuit 166. Thereafter, the downhole power source 170 supplies electrical energy that charges the power storage element 172, if the power storage element 172 has not been previously charged. The charged power storage element 172 causes the electromagnetic valve 164 to shift from the open position to the closed position. For example, the electrical charge of power storage element 172 may energize a solenoid associated with the valve 164. As discussed previously, the valve 164 may completely stop fluid flow. In other embodiments, the valve 164 is configured to permit a controlled amount of fluid in-flow so that the dielectric sensor 162 may continuously monitor fluid flow and detect changes in the amount of water in the fluid in-flow. For example, if water incursion has dissipated once the valve 164 has been closed, then it may be advantageous to re-open the valve 164. Providing a small stream of fluid flow enables the dielectric sensor 162 to detect water levels and thus to actuate the valve 164 to open, if needed.

In embodiments where the downhole power source provides sufficient power to energize all components of the in-flow control device 160, the dielectric sensor 162 may be configured to open the switch 168 to stop the flow of electrical power to the power storage element 172. When the power storage element 172 loses a predetermined amount of charge, the electromagnetic valve 164 returns to the open position. Thus, the electromagnetic valve 164 may be cycled between the open and closed positions in response to the measurements made by the dielectric sensor 162.

In embodiments where the downhole power source does not provide sufficient power to continually energize all components of the in-flow control device 160, the power storage element 172 will gradually lose its electrical charge. When a sufficient amount of charge has been lost, the electromagnetic valve 164 returns to the open position. This may be the case whether or not the dielectric sensor 162 is detecting water. If the dielectric sensor 162 is still detecting water, then the switch 170 remains closed and the downhole power source 170 recharges the power storage element 172. Once the power storage element 172 has a sufficient charge, the electromagnetic valve 164 returns to the closed position. Thus, the electromagnetic valve 164 may cycle between the open and closed positions until the dielectric sensor 162 detects no water in the fluid.

It should be understood that the present disclosure is susceptible to numerous variants. For example, the in-flow control device may utilize electronics programmed to periodically “wake up” the water detector to measure water content. For example, “wake up” circuitry may be programmed to operate a water detector periodically, e.g., every day or every week. Thus, power may be conserved by not continuously operating the water detector.

It should be understood that FIGS. 1 and 2 are intended to be merely illustrative of the production systems in which the teachings of the present disclosure may be applied. For example, in certain production systems, the wellbores 10, 11 may utilize only a casing or liner to convey production fluids to the surface. The teachings of the present disclosure may be applied to control the flow into those and other wellbore tubulars.

For the sake of clarity and brevity, descriptions of most threaded connections between tubular elements, elastomeric seals, such as o-rings, and other well-understood techniques are omitted in the above description. Further, terms such as “valve” are used in their broadest meaning and are not limited to any particular type or configuration. The foregoing description is directed to particular embodiments of the present disclosure for the purpose of illustration and explanation. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art that many modifications and changes to the embodiment set forth above are possible without departing from the scope of the disclosure.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8011432 *Feb 6, 2009Sep 6, 2011Schlumberger Technology CorporationApparatus and method for inflow control
US8220533 *Jul 17, 2009Jul 17, 2012Schlumberger Technology CorporationDownhole piezoelectric devices
WO2013139601A2 *Mar 6, 2013Sep 26, 2013Inflowcontrol AsA flow control device and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/66.6, 166/386, 166/250.15
International ClassificationE21B47/12, E21B23/00, E21B33/12
Cooperative ClassificationE21B43/12, E21B43/32
European ClassificationE21B43/32, E21B43/12
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 27, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: BAKER HUGHES INCORPORATED, TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CLEM, NICHOLAS J.;PETERSON, ELMER R.;CORONADO, MARTIN P.;REEL/FRAME:020567/0662;SIGNING DATES FROM 20080221 TO 20080222