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New way to stimulate flow, capable of operating in all conditions, developed as a life-of-well solution

Project Summary

NZTC launched a call for ideas that sought “new ways to stimulate flow”. Pragma presented their Variable Inflow Control Valve (now called Production Optimisation Valve) as a new and innovative solution to stimulate flow by overcoming the narrow operating range of existing inflow technology and reduce unwanted water or gas breakthrough in the well. Whist a variety of inflow control technology already exists, none have been able to operate in all conditions.

The valve can reduce unwanted production in two or three phase flow. Additionally, the capability for the valve to be adjusted for varying conditions means it can be used as a life-of-well solution and can minimise recompletion requirement when converting a well for other uses, such as injection or gas production.

The technology not only allows full control of the inflow characteristics of a compartmentalised reservoir, but also the ability to change, adjust, or tune the units once installed – without the requirement of mechanical shifting tools. It can be programmed to self-adjust based on a range of fluid parameters that it can detect, either immediately or later in its operating life. The unit can also have its modes changed once installed to restrict from one medium to another or adjust the amount by which it chokes flow.

NZTC supported the project to successfully demonstrate the technology to TRL 4.

Industry value:
Pragma has demonstrated a new tool for controlling reservoir inflow. The Pragma Production Optimisation Valve has discrete control of inflow, without the need for batteries or reliance on complex flow characteristics of mechanical solutions. The valve is a life-of-well, self-powered device that can sense several fluid parameters such as density, makeup, pressure, resistivity and also adjust the amount to choke flow, based on a range of parameters. The flow curves are not limited by a hard set, like mechanical counterparts, but can be completely non-linear and provide far greater operational efficiencies.

Key results:
Pragma delivered a fully-working, benchtop prototype – proven to choke back flow when its sense line was exposed to oil, or water, or an oil/water mix.

During the project, Pragma made several design iterations in three key areas:

  • The energy harvester
  • The low power valve mechanism
  • The electronics power storage, control, and fluid sensing capability

This enabled the team to find an efficient design and embodiment that would provide reliable operation in a range of flowing conditions. 3D printing proved to be a huge benefit for the prototype’s rapid development and is seen as the intended production method for a commercial product.

Pragma demonstrated the functionality of the system to NZTC demonstrating a working prototype in a test rig progressively shutting of flow when exposed to water or oil/water mixes. The demonstration also showcased the self-power generation of the valve. The system has shown its capability and demonstrated that it has applications out with the original scope as a ‘smart’ inflow control device. This includes enhancing well clean-up, staging flowback and managing bringing the well online, optimising water cut and changing the production profile throughout the life of the well.

Pragma has developed an entirely new type of completion tool which makes use of recent advancements in electronic capability and additive based manufacturing techniques. Subsequently, Pragma has renamed the technology Production and Reservoir Management Technology (PRMT).

Lessons learned:
The biggest development aid key to this project was in-house 3D printed prototyping. This allowed both a much faster development timeline and a greater understanding of real-world performance (and limitations) compared with purely analysis or simulation-based development.


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