Fiber is hot! (July 2014)

Optical cable used in seismic acquisition (OGC), well monitoring (Ziebel), gas flow (Pittsburgh).

Fiber optical cable is seeing uptake in a variety of oil and gas domains. Careful measurement of backscattered light can provide information on pressure and/or temperature along the length of the cable. Speaking at the EAGE last month, Flavio Poletto of Italy’s OGC research establishment showed early results from tests of Silixa’s intelligent distributed acoustic sensor (iDas). DAS technology replaces point receivers (geophones) with continuous recording of a seismic pressure field along the cable and has application in massive borehole arrays and conventional seismic recording. Tests comparing iDAS with single and multicomponent geophones and were said to ‘confirm the quality of the iDAS signals for seismic purposes.’

A recent deal between Stavanger-based Ziebel AS and ConocoPhillips heralds the use of distributed fiber optic (DFO) acoustic and thermal real time monitoring of horizontal unconventional wellbores. The truck mounted Z-System will be deployed to visualize unconventional wellbores while drilling.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated the use of fiber for gas flow rate measurements. The active ‘smart’ optical fiber sensor uses an all-optical high-temperature flow sensor based on ‘hot-wire anemometry.’ Reliable gas flow measurements were demonstrated between 0.066  m/s and 0.66  m/s from room temperature up to 800C.

Baker Hughes reports that its CoreBright optical fiber has been reliably transmitting downhole data for four years in a Canadian steam assisted gravity drainage well. Baker’s SureView system has been monitoring an electrical submersible pump and supplying condition data to the company’s Scada network. CoreBright is claimed to be particularly resistant to hydrogen darkening, a potential downgrader of optical performance over time.

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