Clear Downhole Sight Possible
With the rapid development of the digital oilfield over the course of the last 10 years, it seems likely that the industry would already have developed an advanced tool for downhole sight.
This, however, is not the case; only some simple models have been in play so far. With extremely difficult conditions and close to zero predictability this is not surprising, yet a modern version is in the works to improve the existing options.
The agents causing problems to the cameras of today are the fluids found inside the wells where they are used: oil, formation debris, mud from drilling and fracture fluids all contribute to obscuring the vision that the cameras should provide. Because of this the yielded benefit is very limited and this longevity is what is being fixed with the new potential modern version.
The drivers behind this project are a Canadian company, DarkVision Technologies, who think the next level downhole cameras are not only a necessity, but also possible to create. Their process started with identifying that most companies would take the opportunity of better vision down their wells; then, they spent three years working on high resolution, ultrasound-based imaging technology that can see through liquids. The cameras are also equipped with a sensor for 3D spatial data to allow for more informed decision making.
What makes the work promising is the background of the developers. Their previous creation, ClearVision, is an intelligent camera system that became the standard for cardboard packaging inspections in North America as well as Europe and shows the team’s capabilities when it comes to camera technology. They are also in partnerships with notable companies such as Suncor Energy and BDC, demonstrating the industry’s general faith in DarkVision.
For now, the company does not offer a commercial version and is only testing their tool in SAGD wells with partners. If all goes well, it should come to the market in one to two years, but at the moment serves as an inspiration for further research and innovation in the digital oilfield. Dashboard’s opinion on the cameras is very positive because of the clear benefit it has on drilling. The tool isn’t meant for one operator only and is therefore relevant to all companies in the field.