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Smart fields fulfil their potential

Advanced technologies are helping to unlock complex oil and gas reservoirs. In Brunei, Shell has applied a powerful combination of innovative drilling and well control systems to produce oil from a field where conventional systems would have been too costly.

Aerial photo of Champion West platformChampion West field is located in shallow water, 35 km off the coast of Brunei. Discovered in 1975, it comprises a series of small deposits of oil more than two miles beneath the seabed scattered over a wide area.
As a result of the geologic challenge of recovery, Champion West has been lying dormant for 30 years because it was too expensive to develop this complex web of thin reservoirs.

After several failed attempts to open the field, Shell EP and Brunei Shell developed a Smart FieldsÒ vision that matched the unique challenges of the Champion West field. The vision included taking advantage of new drilling techniques, innovative technologies and new ways of working through improved communication, remote operations and the ability for increased collaboration and decision-making between partners, suppliers, and onshore/offshore staff, turning Champion West into a fully-fledged smart field.

The first challenge was to drill into the scattered oil zones. Conventional wells are generally drilled vertically, but this would have been a very inefficient way to develop Champion West field. The Shell snake well drilling method creates a well that “snakes” back and forth across the oil-containing zones. This innovative design allows the well to intersect separate targets, thereby increasing recovery from the reservoir and boosting production.

Once the drilling challenges had been overcome, Shell engineers placed sensors and remotely controlled inflow control valves throughout the field. This combination enabled them to monitor the temperature and pressure of the reservoir (including the produced volume and composition of the well fluids) and to control the fluid flow by using a link from the equipment to the surface. Using this smart design of better monitoring and control along the well line resulted in timely risk reduction and mitigation and enhanced recovery.

The snake wells at Champion West field are the most productive wells in Brunei Shell Petroleum’s history. By replacing several conventional wells with a single well that produces oil from two or more zones, Shell brought down development costs for the field by 60%.

Today, with the Smart Fields monitoring systems fully operational, shore-based personnel can monitor the reservoir and adjust operations quickly and simply to avoid or minimise problems. Working online through a secure IT system, petroleum engineers can test a well, shut it down and start it up again to optimise the oil flow. Removing the need for personnel on the platform makes operations safer and further reduces operating costs.

The integration of advanced technologies, tools, skills and workflows applied at Champion West field places it at the forefront of Shell’s Smart Fields operations. The performance improvement in Brunei proves that the approach is reliable and cost-effective and points to a bright future for the development of complex fields.

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