What is Wireline in the Oilfield?

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Many oilfield operations depend wholly on wireline: a rugged, thin wire cable mounted on a powerful reel. Wireline technology is essential during the production and completion phases. Most vital oilfield operations, such as oilfield directional drilling, flow controls, gamma ray formation, and wrench retrieval, log on wireline. Wireline technology allows field operators to move equipment and tools through the casing, which is necessary to repair faults in the well and monitor conditions downhole. Oil and gas extractors may also use wirelines to cut paraffin, conduct surveys, pull tubing rods, swab fluids, and many other things.

What is a Wireline?

Wireline refers to the processes, technologies, and methods used to transport wires and cables up and down a wellbore during oil and gas mining. Wireline defines a robust and thin metal cable attached to a reel. Typically, wireline applications include a logging instrument or tool attached to a line that is lowered into natural gas reservoirs or oil well holes to collect data. Wireline describes the techniques, processes, systems, and cabling technologies used to perform oil well intervention activities.

Since it relates to critical oil and gas extraction activities, wireline undertakings play an essential role in oilfield operations. Without a doubt, the efficiency of overground operations relies significantly on the data collected through wireline technologies, especially during production operations and drilling activities. 

How Wireline Services Work

Wireline services is a common term in the oil and gas mining industry. The service involves lowering a logging instrument attached to a cable into an oil well to determine the health of the structure, the rock, and the fluids within the well. This technique was introduced in the 1920s when Marcel and Conrad Schlumberger ran the first wireline log in France. 

Wireline service companies aim to provide their clients with a clear understanding of the subsurface, which gives oilfield operators an accurate view of their reservoir. Oil miners often employ advanced technological solutions to optimize oilfield operations and maximize extracted quantities. These solutions ensure that oil well intervention practices collect and transmit accurate and precise data and that data collection equipment and tools are efficiently and safely deployed downhole. 

A top wireline company leverages an intricate combination of workflows and advanced sensors to prolong, restore, or boost oil production. For instance, once a well starts to record lower-than-average production levels, wireline service companies may replace old tubes to increase output. Wireline companies generally perform various intervention techniques, including remedial treatments and major maintenance activities. Such firms also undertake invasive procedures, including using explosives to open new channels, expand fissures, and fracture rocks. Wireline companies also punch holes into well casings by running perforating guns. This process involves connecting the reservoir to the wellbore, allowing hydrocarbons to flow easily into the wellbore. Without a doubt, such processes go a long way in improving efficiency and minimizing rig costs.

Other services offered by wireline companies

1. Wireline imaging

Borehole videos and high-resolution images help describe the formation’s fracture patterns, structural framework, and sedimentary features. Oil well images also inform perforation and design strategies. Additionally, wireline imaging aids in retrieving tubing measurements that can be useful in conventional core orientation and description. 

2. Borehole seismic services

Wireline companies hire skilled seismic specialists equipped with advanced seismic sensors to ensure that they only deliver accurate data. Seismic services help improve production and reduce field development risk and rig time. 

3. Zonal isolation

Gas and oil wells often have permeable formations where oil and other fluids are sorted by density, with gas on the top, and oil and water at the bottom. The process of zonal isolation attempts to segregate gas and water from production since oil is the most valuable and easiest to process. 

4. Production and well integrity logging

In the past, oil well operators could only detect productivity and well integrity issues once physical signs emerged. At this point, the problems had escalated into considerable safety and economic risks.

Wireline companies design thorough well, integrity surveys that can identify potential faults before they require costly remedial operations. 

5. Perforating services using explosives 

Wireline companies use perforating guns loaded with explosives to create tunnels and conduits through which oil flows from the formation to the wellbore. 

6. Mechanical intervention

Top wireline service providers execute mechanical intervention operations securely and safely. Whether you want to create clear-cut holes in your tubes or retrieve a stuck pipe, wireline companies leverage mechanical intervention technologies to cut a wide array of diameters without using ballistics or harmful chemicals. 

How Are Wireline Services Different From Slicklines?

Wirelines and slicklines are quite similar, mainly because they are both deployed into oil wells to fulfill logging and workover efforts. There are, however, glaring differences between the two. While a wireline is a solid electrical cable used to lower instruments that capture and transmit information about the wellbore’s health, a slickline refers to a thin wire dropped into a well to retrieve or deliver equipment downhole. Wirelines can also perform wireline logging. 

Slicklines are lowered from the surface to transport equipment, such as gauges, plugs, and valves, downhole. These non-electric single-strand wires may also be deployed to repair tubing located downhole or adjust sleeves and valves within the wellbore. Slicklines are particularly important because they allow operators to clear the well of hydrates, paraffin, sand, and such material that may cause blockages or significantly affect production.

On the other hand, wirelines are single-strand or multi-strand cables used during formation evaluation and well intervention operations. In simpler terms, wirelines are particularly useful in collecting and transmitting accurate information concerning the well. Wirelines use a tool called a sonde, which is placed at the tail end of the cable. The logging tool captures essential data as it is lowered into the well up to a prescribed depth. The device is then raised out of the well. Keep in mind that the sonde collects data continuously, even while on its way out of the well. 

Wrapping Up

When brothers Marcel and Conrad Schlumberger invented wireline, they intended to measure the electrical resistivity of formations within boreholes. The brothers understood that they could identify hydrocarbon-bearing formations by collecting electrical resistivity data within target boreholes. Wireline technology has grown severalfold since. 

Today, wireline logs not only measure resistivity but also estimate conductivity, temperature, hydrocarbon formation pressure, wellbore dimensions, and temperatures. Given the advances in logging technologies, wirelines can also capture properties like electromagnetic, acoustic and radioactive waves. These measurements allow engineers to gauge formations accurately and determine the potential for further exploration.

Oilfield operators look to wireline services to get valuable data and information regarding intervention needs, well diagnostics, and zone operations throughout the phases of exploration and extraction. Well perforation activities, which boost reservoir productivity by allowing hydrocarbons to flow into a wellbore, rely heavily on data captured by wireline logs. 

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