|Publication number||US3854323 A|
|Publication date||Dec 17, 1974|
|Filing date||Jan 31, 1974|
|Priority date||Jan 31, 1974|
|Also published as||CA1001747A1|
|Publication number||US 3854323 A, US 3854323A, US-A-3854323, US3854323 A, US3854323A|
|Inventors||D Hearn, T Perkins|
|Original Assignee||Atlantic Richfield Co|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (30), Classifications (19)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent 191 Hearn et al.
1111 3,854,323 [451 Dec. 17, 1974 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MONITORING THE SAND CONCENTRATION IN A 'FLOWING WELL  Inventors: Daniel P. Hearn, Richardson;
Thomas K. Perkins, Dallas, both of Tex.
 Assignee: Atlantic Richfield Company, Los Angeles, Calif.
 Filed: Jan. 31, 1974 21 Appl. No.: 438,382
52] us. (:1. 73/61 R, 73/155 51 1111.0. E21b 47/00 581 Field ofSearch..... 73/155, 61 R, 194 A  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,2lU 4l7 8/1940 Kinley 73/155 X 7/l972 4/l974 Bertelson 73/61 R X Primary Ii.\'aminer.lei'ry W. Myraclc 57] ABSTRACT The sand concentration in a flowing well is measured quantitatively by anapparatus and method wherein an acoustic noisedetector of wide band frequency response is placed in the flow stream. The output signal of the detector is selectively amplified at two frequencies, the lower of which is relatively unaffected by sand concentration in comparison to the higher, and the resultant signals are combined electronically on an analog computer whose output is virtually a unique function of sand concentration and nearly independent of fluid velocity.
19 Claims,"3 Drawing Figures Fahrbach 73/]94 A X PATENTEC 55B! 3, 854. 323
SHEET 10F 2 I SIGNAL PROCESSING .22
CIRCUITS 2o 20 RECORDER ALARM r0 I I 24 26 -17 FIG. 1
43 55 /I WIDEBAND J30 AMPLIFIER 42 PowER PREAMPLIFIER I Sl'JPPLY 32V FILTER FILTER 1 2a 41 AMPLIFIER AMPLIFIER 34$ 36 v AC-DC AC-DC CONVERTER CONVERTER 39 \J\ FIG. 2
COMPUTER PAIENTEQ m1 7 I974 SHEET 2 or 2 mm mm 1 I METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MONITORING THE SAND CONCENTRATION IN A FLOWING WELL BACKGROUND OF INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention r This invention relates generally to the detection of acoustic noise in the flow stream of a producing well and more particularly to a method and apparatus for quantitatively monitoring the sand concentration in such flow stream.
' 2. Description of the Prior Art -It is well-known in the oil industry that the fluids recovered from certain incompetent hydrocarbon proorder to detect the critical'flow velocity marking the onset of sand production. Exemplary of such techniques and apparatus is the invention disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,563,311 The basic hypothesis of such a technique is that a fluid carrying sand particles will impart. more energy to its surroundings than the same 2 importance inassessing the probability of severe damage depending upon the extent to which tolerable sand concentrations'are being exceeded.
1 SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A It is, therefore, a general object of this invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for detect I the concentration of sand in the flow stream'ol a proing the presence of sand in the flow stream of a producing well.
It is a further object of this'invention to provide a method and apparatus for quantitatively determining ducing well.
' it is yet another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus for measuring the sand production in the flow stream .of a producing well independent v of flow velocity. I
The acoustic noise generated by the fluid stream in a producing well is'known to have a complex frequency spectrum. However, the position of the spectrum peaks does not appear to change appreciably with velocity or gas/oil ratio. The present invention is based, at least in fluid flowing without sand, and further'that with in-" creasing velocity the averageamplitude ofthe noise will also increase. In this prior art invention, a sound detector is positioned within a well at the level of a producing formation of interest so that it monitors the sound produced by the flowing fluids. An electrical signal generated by the detector is amplified and recorded at different flow rates.1The onset of sand production marks apoint at which there is a change in the slope of a log-log plot of sound level versus flow rate.
One of the disadvantages of techniques such as that tically sensingthe noise generated by the flow stream in the well, producing an electrical signal of a known described above lies in the factthat the accuracy of. the
critical flow rate determination is dependent upon the number of flow rates at which the-formation concerned is produced; In addition,-the assumption is made in such a method that by producing the formation at a flow rate below the critical value, sand will not be produced. However, changes can occurthat will invalidate such assumption. For example, if water should come into a producing formation, the well tends to sand up rapidly without any apparent increase in the flow veloccontinually re-establish .the' critical flow rate by means of a new series of flow rate measurements.
Attempts have also been made to continuously monitor, the condition of a well by simply providing a warning signal when the level of an electrical signal generated by an acoustic detector exceeds a predetermined threshold value. Thistype of indicator is unreliable because there is no way of tellingwith certainty whether the increase in signal value is the result of a change in flow velocity, gas/oil ratio,or, more importantly, the concentration of sand.
. A further disadvantage of all such techniques is that they are not able to give a quantitative determination of sand concentration, which may be of corisiderabl-e ity. Under such circumstances, it becomes necessary to the order of 700 kilohertz, result in a significant part, on the discovery that the introduction of sand in the flow stream and subsequent changes in' the volume fraction thereof have relatively little effect on the amplitude of .the noise at lower frequencies, sayon the order of 100 kilohertz, but at higher frequencies, say on mcrease in noise amplitude. Y
In summary, in accordance with a preferred embodi-' ment' of this invention, a method for detecting and monitoring the. sand concentration'in the produced fluids in an oil well comprises generally the steps of acousfrequency. spectrum responsive to said noise, selectively amplifying the signal at a first higher frequency at which such amplitude is significantly dependent upon both flow velocity and sand concentration and at a second lower frequency at which the amplitude depends only on flow velocity and is substantially independentof sand concentration, and thereafter electronically combining said first and second frequency signal components in an analog computer to produce an output indicative only 'of sand concentration and substantially independent of flow velocity.
Additionally, in another preferred-embodiment this invention comprehends apparatus for carrying out such method wherein an acoustic sensor of wide band frequency response is supported within an oil filled probe positioned at thewellhead in the flow stream so as to provide an electrical output signal continuously representative of the acoustic noise generated by the fluid flow. The electrical output of the transducer is passed through a filter network which selectivelyfilters two tion of emperically determined functional expressions nate flow velocity between these functions. Means are provided for directly reading or continuously plotting DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a view partly in sectiona nd partly diagrammatic of the apparatus of this invention.
FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating the electronic components of the signal processing circuits of this invention, and
FIG. 3 is a graph of a typical frequency spectrum for an acoustic sensing element as employed in this invention plotted against output signal amplitude for both sand-free and sand-producing flow stream conditions.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In accordance with a preferred embodiment of this invention an acoustic probe as seen in FIG. 1 excurrents and other unwanted noise, and may convetends within a flow line 12 at the wellhead of a producing well, preferably downstream of a choke (not shown). For example,this-may be accomplished by in setting the probe 10, which may be of hollow metallic constrqction, within a vertically extending T-joint 14 connected in the line 12 so that the upper end of the probe 10 is engaged thereby, as by threading, and its niently be fixed to the probe 10 in a downhole location or at the wellhead. The output of the preamplifier 28 may be applied with appropriate impedance matching to a further wide band amplifier 30 which serves to step up the signal to a range of several volts. At this point, the acoustic noise responsive signal is filtered by means of a pair of networks 32 and 33 designed to pass two preselected narrow band frequency components, generally at the higher and lower ends of the frequency spectrum of the signal. The outputs of the filters 32 and 33, after suitable amplification in amplifiers 34 and 36, are rectified by means of a-c/d-c converters 38 and 39 to provide a pair of high and low frequency d-c signals V, and V A d-c power supply 41 is adapted to provide-necessary operating voltages for preamplifiers 28 and amplifiers 34 and 36. The power supply 41 may conveniently be located remote from the preamplifier, 28 and incorporated in the same electronic package as the other processing circuit 22. In order to isolate the-power supply 41 from the signal output of the preamplifier 28,-an inductor 42 and capacitor 43 are introduced as shown and selected topresent highand low impedances respectively to such signal output. I
The selection of the two frequencies for V and V is based upon the observed fact that the effect of sand concentration onthe noise amplitude of the flow stream is much more pronounced at high frequencies lower end extends within the flow stream. A sensing element 17 may be positioned within the probe 10 surrounded with a bath of oil 18 to insuresuitable coupling with the acousticnoise of the flow stream impinging on theexternal surface of the probe 10. Alternatively, the element 17 may be cemented directly against the probe 10, which in that event may be solid rather than oil filled. Asa further alternative, the probe 10 may be formed of thin flexible rubber supported by a rigid frame to provide improved coupling to the sensing element 17 and may have the collateral advantage of combating the corrosive effects of sand on a metallic surfaced probe.
The sensing element 17 may consist of a piezo electric disc or cylindrical shell having a wide range electro-acoustical response characteristic, preferably extending from 100 to I000 kilohertz.- A pair of insulated electrical leads 20 are suitably fastened to the opposite flat surfaces of the sensing element 17 and extended therefrom to the upper end of probe 10. This enables transmission of the signal output of the sensing element 17, responsive to the. acoustic noise of the flow stream,
to a group of signal processing circuits 22. In a manner to be described, the signal is there operated upon to provide a further output representative of the volume fraction of sand in the flow stream, and such'output may be still further applied to a continuous recorder 24 and/or an alarm device 26.
The signal processing circuits 22 may be better understood by reference to FIG. 2. Since the alternating current signal produced by the sensing element 17 will typically be in the microvolt range, it is necessary to. pass it through a preamplifier 28 before further processing. The preamplifier 28 may be housed' in a fashion to provide suitable electrical shielding against stray than it is at low frequencies. At the same time, the effect of flow velocity and gas/oil ratio on noise amplitude is relatively constant over the entire frequency spectrum. It has been-hypothesized, based on a consideration of the kinetic. energy of sand particles and liquid flow and verified by experimentation, that these ef- While the presence of any signal output from the computer 40 at all is indicative of the onset of sand production, the level of such signal may be used to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable levels 0 sand production in the oil well flow stream.
The frequency dependent effect of sand concentration on acoustic noise in the flow stream of a well can be better appreciated by an inspection of the chart of FIG. 3. Here there are plotted values of signal output such as are obtainable from the sensing element '17 with frequencies varying from 100 to 1000 kilohertz. It will be understood that these curves are illustrative of the general character of this frequency spectrum. In a particular installation, the location of specific spectral peaks and the amplitude of the signal output of the sensing element 17 are affected not only by its geometry, resonant frequencies, and method of mounting, but
ized frequency spectra in which the arbitrarily varied parameter is sand concentration. For example, in curve 30 no sand has been intro'cluced in'the flow stream. Curves 31, 32, and 33represent the addition of increasing volume percentages of sand in the total flow.
it should be carefully noted that at the low frequency end of the spectra, for example in the neighborhood of 100 kilohertz, there is relatively little change in amplitude with increase in sand concentration as compared, for example, to the increase observed at a higher frequency spectral peak, such as at 780 kilohertz. This difference has been found sufficiently pronounced so that a preselected higher frequency spectral component may vary more than five times as rapidly with increased sand concentration as the preselected lower frequency component within the same spectrum. There is no intent, however, to assert a lower limit or establish a specific minimum frequency within the signal spectrum at which the effect of sand increases becomes pronounced. As shown in the illustration of FIG. 3, other intermediate spectral peaks, for-example at approximately 350 kilohertz and 480 kilohertz, may be equally indicative of the desired effecLYet, it can be observed that lower frequency components clearly exist at which the effect diminishes substantially. The important point to grasp is'that there is a hitherto unsuspected and yet consistent frequency interdependence of sand concentration and acoustic noise level which runs counter to the uniform effects of flow velocity on such noise. This invention, therefore, takes specific advantage of this particular frequency dependence.
For the values of amplitudes of frequency components of the signal output of the sensing element 17 for which substantial dependence upon sand concentration exists, the following general function may be stated:
V K v kgv s where V, is the amplitude of a preselected higher frequency component; v is the flow velocity; S is sand concentration expressed as a volume fraction of the total fluid volume; and k k a, b, and c are experimentally determinable coefficients and exponential values respectively.
Conversely, for lower frequency components which are substantially or relatively independent of sand concentration, the corresponding general function may be expressed as:
V k3v where k, and d represent respectively further experimentally determinable coefticient and exponential value.
If now the signals .V, and V are applied to the analog computer 40, a simultaneous solution may be provided for the functional expressions for V, and V for sand concentration independent of flow velocity, to wit:
Prior to the operation of this method and apparatus V, and In order to do this, the frequency response characteristics of a particular sensing element 17, if not already known, is first established by techniques wellknown in the art. Examination of this spectrum willdetermine the location of appropriate spectral peaks such as have been previously discussed in connection with FIG. 2. ldeally, the sensing element 17 is thereafter installed in the probe positioned in the manner described for this invention. Filters 32 and 33 are then adjusted to select a high and low frequency component of the output signal of sensing element 17 as described,
7 preferably at widely separated spectral peaks, to innent-an alternate signal V is then available such as in conjunction with a particular well, an empirical determination may be made of the coefficients and exponential values in the above recited general formulas for crease the signal strength. The well is produced over a range of several flow velocities and with small varying concentrations of sand. Component output values of V, l
and V are read and graphical or numerical methods used to fit the data to the general functional expressions for V and V so as to obtain discrete values for the coefficients and exponentials in those generalexpressions. It is believed, however, that the values of these coefficients and exponents a'repredictable for a given type of installation within an acceptable margin of error. Thus, the described calibration steps may not be essential in all cases.
It will be understood that the analog computer 40 may be designed, by employing techniques well-known to the art, to perform' the necessary simultaneous solution of the particular functional expressions now available for the quantities V and V so that the output represents the quantity S independent of variations in flow velocity. The computer 40 mayconveniently incorporate a plurality of amplification stages whose gains are adjustable in accordance with the particular values assigned to the coefficients and exponentials in the general formulas. In this fashion, therefore, the computer 40 may be easily accommodated to the requirements of a particular installation.
In the manner described above, an apparatus may be constructed using a single acoustic probe 10 that will measure the sand concentration in the flowing stream concentration may-be made by means of a separate flow velocity sensor such as a turbine flow meter or through the pressure drop across an orifice plate (not shown). in such case the circuitry 22 incorporates only a single filter channel for the high-frequency component signal V and the lower frequency component V is eliminated. In place of the lower frequency compofrom a flow meter proportional to the first power of flow velocity. This again enables analog computer 40 to compute from the signal V and the flow-meter output signal V a solution for the quantity S independent of flow velocity. Clearly, appropriate changes would be made in the design of the computer 40 to perform the intermediate steps in the computation if desired, the signals V and V or the alternative flow meter output signal V may be digitized and with suitable programming the computation for S perfonned digitally using a mini-computer or a microprocessor.
It will be understood that what has been described and illustrated herein is representative of a particular will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, the features of which are more particularly set forth in the claims appended hereto.
What is claimed is:
1. The method of determining the sand concentration in the produced fluids of a well comprising the steps of:
a. deriving from the acoustic noise generated by the flow stream of said fluidsa first broad band electrical signal;
b. filtering said first electrical signal to obtain therefrom at least one preselected narrow band frequency component whose amplitude approximates a first known function of the flow velocity of said fluids and the sand concentration therein;
c. deriving a second electrical signal responsive to the movement of said flow stream whose amplitude approximates a second known function of said flow velocity and said sand concentratiom and d. computing from said at least one frequency component and said second signal an output signal responsive thereto whose amplitude represents a simultaneous solution of said first and second functions for said sand concentration independent of said flow velocity.
2. A method as in claim 1 wherein the step of obtaining said second signal comprises further filtering said first electrical signal to obtain therefrom a second preselected narrow band frequency component lower in frequency than said first preselected frequency component, the amplitude of said second frequency component being less sensitive to sand concentration than the amplitude of said first frequency component.
3. A method asin claim 2 wherein'the center frequencies of said first and 'second frequency components are selected to coincide with respective spectral peaks of said first electrical signal. g
4. A method as in claim 3 wherein the sensitivity to sand concentration of said second frequency component is at least five times that of said first frequency component.
5. A method as in claim 1 wherein said step of obtaining said second signal comprises directly measuring said flow velocity by means of a flow meter.
6. A method as in claim 1 wherein said step of deriving said first electrical signal comprises positioning sounddetection means in theflow stream of said producedfluids at a predetermined location. 1
7. A method as in claim 6 wherein said sound detec tion means is an eleetro-acoustical transducer.
8. A method as in claim 1 wherein said at leasto'nefrequency component and said second signal are combined in an analog computer.
9. A method as in claim 1 wherein said at least one frequency component and said second signal are combined in a digital computer. I
10. A method as in claim 1 comprising the additional step of continuously recording the output signal of said a. sound detection means adapted to provide a first wide band electrical signal responsive to the acousquency component and said second electrical signal a simultaneous solution of said first and second known functions for said sand concentration independent of said flow velocity.
13. Apparatus as in claim 12 wherein said means for deriving a second electrical signal is a flow meter adapted to provide a direct measurement of thexflow velocity of said flow stream.
14. Apparatus as in claim 12 wherein said means for deriving said second electrical signal comprises means for filtering said first electrical'signal to obtain a second preselected narrow band frequency component thereof lower in frequency than said first frequency component and having an amplitude less sensitive to said sand concentration.
15. Apparatus as in claim 14 wherein the amplitude of said first frequency component is-moresensitive to sand concentration than the amplitude of said second frequency component by a factor of at least five.
16. Apparatus as in claim 14 wherein said first known function comprises the general formula V k v k S"v and said second knownfunction comprises the general formula V k v wherein V and V represent the respective amplitudes of said first and second frequency components, v represents flow velocity, S represents the volume fraction of sand in the fluids, and k k k a, b, c, and d represent experimentally determinable coefficients and exponential .values respectively.
17. The apparatus of claim 16 wherein said computing means is-an analog computer provided with a plurality of amplification stages whose gains are individually adjustable to accommodate specific values of k k k;;, a, b, c, and d.
18. Apparatus as in claim 16 wherein said computing means is a digital computer.
19. A method for detecting and monitoring the sand concentration in the produced fluids in an oil'well comprising: a
a. acoustically sensing the noise generated by the flow stream of the well;
b. transducing said acoustic noise into abroad band electrical signal;
c. selectively filtering said broad band signal at a first higher frequency to provide a first component signal whose amplitude is dependentupon said sand concentration and on the flow velocity of said fluids and at a second lower frequency to provide a second component signal whose amplitude is dependent on flow velocity and is substantially independent of said sand concentration;
d. rectifying said first and second component signals;
e.- thereafter electronically combining said first and second componentsignals in an analog computer adapted to provide therefrom an output indicative only of sand concentration and substantially independent of flow velocity.
Disclaimer 3,854,323.Dam'el P. H earn, Richardson, and Thomas K. Perkins, Dallas, Tex. METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MONITORING THE SAND CONCENTRATION IN A FLOWING WELL. Patent dated Dec. 17, 197A. Disclaimer filed June 2, 1975, by the assignee, Atlantic Richfield Uompany. Hereby enters this disclaimer to claims 1, 5, 6, 7 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of said patent.
[Ofiicial Gazette July 22, 1.975.]
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|U.S. Classification||73/61.75, 73/152.31, 73/152.32|
|International Classification||G01N29/04, E21B47/10, G01H3/12, G01H3/00|
|Cooperative Classification||G01N2291/2693, G01N29/046, G01N2291/02416, G01N2291/014, G01H3/12, E21B47/101, G01N2291/02836, G01N2291/02408, G01N2291/02809|
|European Classification||G01H3/12, E21B47/10D, G01N29/04H2|