MTS and Nordic research specialist SINTEF co-develop next generation geomaterials modelling technology

Image: JWN

Working in conjunction with Norwegian independent research organization SINTEF, MTS Systems Corporation has completed the design and construction of a large-scale test system that can emulate the complex, high-pressure environments found downhole in oil wells.

The technology will help to ensure supply continuity and wellbore integrity as drilling goes to even greater depths, said the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company.

The new test system replicates the stress profiles present in different rock formations, as well as simulates fluid flow patterns and other factors that impact well integrity. Through these advanced modelling capabilities, oil recovery will be increased—with larger quantities being extracted from current reserves.

The technology will also play a decisive role in gaining access to more difficult to reach reserves as they are discovered, according to MTS.

Representing a major investment from the engineering resources of both parties, the MTS/SINTEF test system comprises a multitude of state-of-the-art sensors, actuators and pressurization systems, driven by highly sophisticated control software. Using the system, laboratory staff will be able to create detailed models that allow different drilling scenarios to be investigated in order to assure borehole stability is upheld—which translates into more stable and efficient oil production.

"The oil industry faces difficult challenges ahead. Given a scarcity of remaining assets but unrelenting demand, combined with growing environmental concerns, it is paramount that the extraction process is made as efficient and safe as possible," Jeffrey Graves, MTS president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"This can only be done through employing better analysis tools that accurately reproduce the relevant circumstances. Based on the data derived, oil engineers will be able to drill in the optimum places for maximum operational effectiveness," stated Graves.

The relationship between SINTEF and MTS dates back to the early 1990s. "This latest project is the most ambitious that our teams have worked on together, setting major obstacles for us to overcome and calling for close cooperation throughout the entire development cycle. Now that the test rig is completed, the benefits it will have to long-term oil exploration are unquestionable," said Lars Erik Walle of SINTEF.