Technical Paper: Powering Through a Lateral Junction for ERC Wells—Is It Really a Step Too Far?

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 160856
Presentation Date: 2012
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Saudi Aramco and Schlumberger recently embarked on a phased field implementation to build “extreme reservoir contact” (ERC) wells. The paper presents the experiences on a recent trial well that deployed an intelligent completion through a multilateral junction in an openhole lateral. We present the conceptual design, tools, techniques, and learning associated with this test. 

The application of this technology lies in the construction of ERC well infrastructure to actively control segmented lateral inflow and improve reservoir sweep. A key stumbling block in realizing this vision is to branch the lateral junction with power and communication.

The well trial demonstrated the ability to deploy a completion assembly with umbilical to the bottom of an openhole lateral.

The major design and operational steps discussed herein include the following:

  • Installing and cementing an umbilical behind casing 
  • Milling the junction window without causing damage to the umbilical 
  • Drilling, cleanout, and fluids used in the lateral to reduce drag 
  • Dressing and drifting of the junction 
  • Installation and retrieval of a dummy lateral completion assembly with umbilical through a window and without rotation.

ERC is one of the key technologies in Saudi Aramco's vision of increasing recovery factors from its fields. ERC wells differ from the current “maximum reservoir contact” (MRC) practice in further increasing reservoir contact, while also increasing well compartmentalization with individual compartment control. Laterals can be instrumented with enhanced sensor systems to efficiently monitor hydrocarbon reserve drainage.

The reliable deployment of remote control valves and sensing devices through milled junction windows is a key step in realizing this vision. The full benefit of drilling these downhole well structures demands proactive control of reservoir fluid production and the mitigation of early water or gas breakthrough. Bringing emerging new intelligent completion technology into the laterals will significantly impact the industry in this regard.

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