Miniaturised solutions for Oil industry - Chilab

Miniaturised solutions for Oil industry












In the oil industry one of the key issues to achieve better well productivity and increased recovery factor is the possibility to  continuously and remotely monitor the reservoir behaviour so as to assess relevant formation and fluid properties and to foresee potential production problems. In this way hydrocarbon drainage could be optimized based on the knowledge of fluid flow in the reservoir. Furthermore, breakthrough of undesired fluids at the wells, and its consequences on the inflow performance, could be anticipated rather than faced after occurrence. Consideration should also be given to the modern integrated approach where surface facilities and pipeline network represent fundamental constraints to any development plans for new or existing fields, therefore monitoring should be extended to include fluid transport, treatment and disposal - if needed.


Furthermore, in a panorama of increasing interest for extreme exploration scenarios high-temperature, high-pressure reservoirs are becoming more and more attractive. However, sensors for reservoirs, wells and pipeline monitoring still suffer from several limitations, in terms of parameters they can measure, ability to transmit the acquired information to a collection center, average duration and working conditions (especially temperature) they can withstand. Data on instrument reliability are hardly available, but it is well known that several tools underwent unexpected premature cease of functioning.

The scope of this research activity is to carry out a technology development aimed at identifying potential miniaturised solutions and/or materials to be used for constructing innovative sensors and monitoring systems for different applicative scenarios: reservoir, well, pipeline and sub-marine environment. Different aspects are under investigation: sensors development, data communication and electronics, and energy harvesting.

The research and development activity is conducted in collaboration with other Research Groups of the Polytechnic of Turin belonging to the DIATI, DISAT and DET Departments and in the framework of the Osservatorio Tecnologico - Center for Petroleum Studies @ Polito, a technical center started by Politecnico di Torino in March 2008 with the support of Eni in order to promote research and innovation on strategic issues for the petroleum industry, making use of skills gained in different areas of science with the cooperation of other universities, both in Italy and abroad, with which the Politecnico has established links or simply because they are worlwide recognized authority in specific areas.

Several times a year round tables are organized to discuss and investigate new challenging topics.

So far we have developed a new, low-cost and low-risk foam pig with inspection capabilities similar to those of a multi-channel caliper pig (i.e. able to detect, locate and size inner diameter changes and deformations) together with additional features that allow to detect internal roughness changes useful for corrosion assessment purposes. One implementation of the new tool makes use of a foam pig “carrier”, providing the required push with a good capability to surpass restrictions, equipped with specialized sensors and modules for data acquisition and storage.

We also developed an instrumented pod for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for the spectrophotometric detection of potential contaminants which may generated close to an underwater production site. The current system has been customized for the detection of heavy metallic ions and tested in a real application scenario.

Contact information

Fabrizio Pirri
Tel. +39 011 090 7355





  1. "Is the oil industry ready for nanotechnologies", M. Cocuzza, C. F. Pirri, V. Rocca, F. Verga, Proceedings of the 10th Offshore Mediterranean Conference (OMC), Ravenna (Italy), March 23-25, 2011
  2. "Current and future nanotech applications in the oil industry”, Cocuzza M., Pirri C. F., Rocca V. and Verga F., Am. J. Applied Sci., 2012, 9, pp. 784-793, doi: 10.3844/ajassp.2012.784.793
  3. "A novel Smart Caliper Foam pig for low-cost pipeline inspection – Part B: Field Test and data processing", C. Ramella, G. Canavese, S. Corbellini, M. Pirola, M. Cocuzza, L. Scaltrito, S. Ferrero, C.F. Pirri, G. Ghione, V. Rocca, A. Tasso, A. Di Lullo, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2014, accepted for publication,
  4. "A novel Smart Caliper Foam pig for low-cost pipeline inspection – Part A: Design and Laboratory Characterization", C. Ramella, G. Canavese, S. Corbellini, M. Pirola, M. Cocuzza, L. Scaltrito, S. Ferrero, C.F. Pirri, G. Ghione, F. Verga, A. Tasso, A. Di Lullo, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2015, accepted for publication





  1. "PIPELINE INSPECTION APPARATUS FOR THE INTERNAL INSPECTION OF PIPELINES", Inventors: A. Di Lullo, M. Pirola, L. Scaltrito, J.M. Tulliani. Assignee: ENI S.p.A., WO2013102807 (A3), 24/10/2013