Morgantown, WV – Honeywell International, Inc. has developed a Reconfigurable Processor for Data Acquisition (RPDA) – a reprogrammable, multi-functional device that can operate at temperatures up to 250oC (482oF). The system is housed in a rugged package suitable for deep down-hole oil and natural gas logging and measurement-while-drilling (MWD) operations, and permanent wellbore installation applications. The project was funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) under the Office of Fossil Energy’s Oil and Natural Gas Program.
Deep wells are generally defined as having a true vertical depth (TVD) greater than 15,000 feet, while ultra-deep wells are deeper than 25,000 feet TVD. Potential recoverable natural gas and oil resources from deep formations are significant, and deep wells tend to produce at much higher daily rates than conventional shallower wells.
The problems encountered in deep drilling are largely the result of escalating temperatures, formation fluid pressures, and rock hardness. Temperatures that can exceed 175oC (347oF) and pressures that can reach 10,000-20,000 pounds per square inch (psi) and higher seriously challenge the capabilities of down-hole equipmentÿparticularly electronic components.
At the heart of Honeywell’s RPDA lie highly reliable, co-fired ceramic Multi-Chip Modules (MCM’s) that can perform at temperatures up to 250oC (482oF). The MCM is similar to an electronic circuit board implanted in a single solid piece of ceramic material. The package is tailored to down-hole applications in terms of physical dimensions, wide operating temperature ranges, and the ability to withstand high shock and vibration environments.
Resource studies conducted by the Potential Gas Committee, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Mineral Management Service (MMS) estimate technically recoverable resources for onshore deep natural gas between 114 and 132 trillion cubic feet, and offshore, shallow water deep natural gas is estimated to be as much as 55 Tcf. A 2000 MMS assessment of deepwater and ultra-deepwater hydrocarbons indicated that more than 50 billion recoverable barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) remains to be discovered; and their 2006 report identified a gap of 9 billion BOE between proven reserves and the discovered resource base. Yet despite the vast resource and high production rates, only a small percentage of wells are drilled to 15,000 feet or deeper. Perhaps the leading reason for this is the very high costs involved in deep drilling.
The RPDA addresses a unique, previously unfilled need for flexible, reprogrammable digital electronics that can operate in extreme down-hole oil and natural gas drilling, exploration, and production environments. Honeywell plans to offer these components commercially to the oil and natural gas industry as well as to other industries that require data acquisition tools for extreme temperature applications.