It is well-known fact that nowadays optical fibers are used everywhere, and very often it requires that they could maintain harsh environmental conditions. That is the reason why it is highly necessary to develop optical fiber systems, especially for land and undersea oil industry application, as most of them rely considerably on the temperature sensing to provide improved safety and functionality in harsh environments.
The main fields of optical fiber application are distributed temperature and acoustic sensing in which acoustic and temperature signal are registered along the optical fiber sensor cable. Thus, optical fiber sensing allows well and pipeline operators to control the whole wellbore or pipeline span, in nearly real time, combining with other techniques.
Herewith, optical fibers are able to operate under the following extreme conditions:
- high temperatures;
- high level of pressure;
- ionizing radiation;
- aggressive environmental chemicals.
For example, oil wells have temperatures that are able to reach 380 °C. And optical fiber systems must be mechanically solid with a minimum of added attenuation or signal loss to be used in such environments. The design of the most optical fibers includes a silica-based core and cladding because silica has high optical transmission, superior thermal stability, and mechanical robustness. Herein, the core and cladding in the fiber system are protected by a polymer coating.
Unfortunately, the failures of optical fibers are not excluded, and they are divided into two groups: increased optical loss and mechanical breakage. It should be mentioned that such failures identify the lifetime of an optical fiber and different criteria define different fiber longevity even under equal conditions.
Finally, it has managed to determine that the survivability of optical fiber systems under extreme conditions in oil industry applications on land and undersea rely on numerous factors such as:
- type of coating;
- usage time.
In addition, it was established that C/PI-coated optical fibers are the most stable in all environmental conditions, fibers with SA and Hyb coatings are the most thermally stable in IPA and paraffin oil.
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