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Production Well Testing Using Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters
a report by
CEO, Futuristic PetroSYS PVT Ltd
With the global volatility in oil and gas prices, technological advances are creating a tug of war as innovators, manufacturers and suppliers try to gain access to potential customers in the fastchanging business environment of the exploration and production (E&P) sector. Also, the world of business is shifting from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. In this scenario there is a need for a technological strategy to deal with the demand side. The main aim of this article is to inform the oil and gas industry about non-radioactive multiphase flow meter (MPFM) technology and to discuss its pros and cons. Multiphase Flow In general, a mixture of different phases is referred to as a multiphase flow. Unlike single-phase flows, multiphase flows are complex phenomena and cannot be predicted or modelled. As a resullt, characteristics such as velocity profile, turbulence and boundary layers cannot be used to describe such flows. Instead, multiphase flow structures are classified in terms of flow regimes, which are functions of varied parameters such as transients, geometry/terrain and hydrodynamics. The distribution of phases in space and time differs for each flow regime. The different types of flow regime can be grouped into dispersed flow (bubble flow and mist flow), separated flow (stratified and annular flow) and intermittent flow (churn and slug flow). The whole science of multiphase flow metering is now based on these types of flow regime. Since these flow regimes are dynamic in nature and not under the control of an engineer or an operator, it is challenging to adopt, adapt and improve multiphase flow metering. Types of Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meter Owing to the challenges associated with metering of multiphase flow, to date only a few brands (two or three fully commercialised) of non-radioactive MPFM are available. Each brand has its unique selling point, which is nothing but the utilisation of different permutations and combinations of technological building blocks, as described below:
• flow-rate/flow-velocity measurement building blocks: Venturi/ V-Cone/Orifice meters, cross-correlation; • composition measurement building blocks: capacitance, conductance, microwave, dual Venturi; and • calculation logic building blocks: single algorithm, library of algorithms, single empirical formula, neural nets (artificial intelligence), pattern recognition. These building blocks, in their various combinations, define nonradioactive MPFMs. Multiphase Flow Meters versus Test Separators The concept of multiphase flow metering was originally developed for the offshore oil and gas Industry to replace the conventional test separators used for well testing purposes. Conventional test separators are heavy; require lot of space; are expensive to fabricate, operate and maintain; need long stabilisation times (generally a few hours) prior to well testing; cause delays in well testing, resulting in abandonment of production, hence causing delays in generating revenue; and are not at all ideal for fast decision-making. In contrast, MPFMs (see Figure 1) are much lighter than conventional test separators; are cheaper; and need little or no stabilisation time prior to well testing, resulting in faster well test frequency without delaying production, thus allowing the generation of large revenues. Non-radioactive MPFMs provide substantial additional benefits, such as realtime measurement of oil, gas and water flow rates, gas volume fraction (GVF), water cut, gas–oil ratio (GOR), gas–liquid ratio (GLR), and so on. The biggest advantage of non-radioactive MPFMs is that they do not use any radioactive sensors, making them ideal for well surveillance, mobile and fixed production well testing, satellite station well testing, production optimisation, flow assurance, production allocation and bulk metering. Application of Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters Well Surveillance or Well Monitoring
• flow-conditioning building blocks: in-line separators, mixers, no conditioning (in-line full bore models);
Non-radioactive MPFMs are able to provide continuous well test data in realtime with a less than one-second delay. Therefore, the uncertainty related to well data can be significantly reduced and conditions of well instability (for instance gas lift wells) over time can be noticed immediately, thus allowing important decisions related to well work to be be made faster and more accurately. Production Well Testing Conventional test separators generate data from a single well test over a period of a few hours, whereas MPFMs can generate the same data within less than a second, allowing faster well tests. By increasing the frequency of well tests, production engineers are able to achieve
Rishi Arora is CEO of Futuristic PetroSYS Pvt Ltd. He has 12 years of experience in multiphase flow meter (MPFM) technology and has been part of various MPFM projects worldwide. Futuristic PetroSYS Pvt Ltd is the authorised and exclusive Indian representative of Petroleum Software Limited (UK), the manufacturers of the ESMER brand of non-radioactive multiphase flow metering systems. E: email@example.com
© TOUCH BRIEFINGS 2009
cd-adapco. Flow Assurance Flow assurance is a significant task when confirming the flow of fluid through the entire process facility from the well head to the sale point. asphaltenes. Production Optimisation Under conditions where artificial lift methods (such as gas lift.. Figure 1: Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meter at Offshore Platform Computational Flow Assurance Risk Mitigation & Performance Improvement Flow. Thermal. which will be of keen interest to the production engineer and the reservoir engineer in terms of maximising the usage of process facilities and increasing the efficiency and viability of operations. UK Aberd 55 Booth 11 Europe Offshore 8-11.cd-adapco. Categorisation of Non-Radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters In general.cd-adapco. Stress 3D Simulation Software & Services • STAR-CCM+ • STAR-CD • STAR-CAD Series at: Visit us 7. 2009 r0 For more information on Flow. non-radioactive MPFMs act like realtime scanners for determining the optimum injection of gas. water flooding. Texas Houston 05 Booth 58 OTC e Septemb een. 2009 May 04-0 .com Or contact: info@uk.Production Well Testing Using Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters tighter control of their field operations. Such a practice also allows early detection of water breakthrough. gas coning.com . This allows 100% unmanned operations and testing of remotely scattered wells. It is also important to mention here that mobile non-radioactive MPFMs can be used with ease for well tests during the fluid drilling phase for early production checks. sand and scales. • in-line meters. chemical injection. resulting in maximum oil production. without the need for any of the special safety requirements associated with radioactive MPFMs. in addition to good accuracy. or • wet gas meters.com www. Thermal & Stress Simulation. It is necessary for the facility engineers and production engineers to • separation meters. Under such circumstances. please visit: www. water or chemicals. an MPFM will be most suitable due to its fast response in providing readings with high repeatability. etc. etc. Satellite Station Well Testing Non-radioactive MPFMs are associated with modern supervisory control and data acquisition technology (SCADA) and can be linked via satellite or radio telemetry to the central control room. non-radioactive MPFMs are categorised as: identify potential blockages due to hydrates. where the use of expensive test separators cannot be justified. wax.) are utilised to lift oil from the wells.
Effect of Gas Volume Fraction As the GVF of the flow stream increases. please refer to the ‘Conclusion’ section of this article. as it takes at least three to 12 months to complete the process of delivery after innumerable clearances from different statuary bodies. The data are stored in a database. These savings can sometimes run into several millions of dollars. GVF. Since their commercialisation in 1990. these units have small footprints. as utilised by radioactive MPFMs. Low Cost – Most Suitable for Marginal Fields Non-radioactive MPFMs tend to be much cheaper than radioactive systems and conventional test separators. MPFM = multiphase flow meter. For performance data for this system. line temperature. based on field conditions. are much Field conditions In-line meter Separation meter Wet gas meter cheaper in terms of construction. water cut. Hence. Advantages of Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters Non-radioactive MPFMs are an example of the saying ‘all good things come in small packages’. safety and environment (HSE) requirements. Other advantages of non-radioactive MPFMs are outlined below. Capital Expenditure Savings – Light Weight and Small Footprint MPFMs weigh less than 10% of their conventional counterparts with equivalent capacities and also have a very small footprint. so even before you install an MPFM the justifications are there to impress your management. as it allows large capital expenditure (CAPEX) savings when installing these systems on offshore platforms. tracer techniques. the operational expenditure when operating a radioactive system can be enormous due to various health. MPFMs can be connected to an existing/future SCADA system through third-party interface protocols. MPFMs are cheaper and more beneficial for operations. generate daily/weekly/monthly/yearly reports. the level of accuracy of the liquid (oil and water) rate determination by a non-radioactive and/or even radioactive multiphase metering system is adversely affected. always keeping accuracy in mind. which is frequently the major focus of the measurements. ‘GVF versus time’ per well and ‘water cut versus time’ per well. This is a very important advantage of MPFMs. density and velocity. Also. weigh much less than conventional systems and have high mobility for fast implementation. major research and development (R&D) efforts have been made to extend their capabilities for the full range of 0–100% GVF and 0–100% water cut measurements with minimum or no need for auxiliary systems such as separators. and it is possible to transfer the data into a multitier system in a corporate database management system for easy information management. etc. as they do not use any additional gamma sensors. Irrespective of the type of non-radioactive MPFM system. allowing complete open connectivity and data exchange via any of the available communication backbones. MPFM software. Figure 3: ESMER Non-radioactive System Installed at Offshore Platform for Well Testing The categorisation of is based on the MPFM’s ability to handle GVF contents and water cuts. view historical data and trends (data archiving). which require specialised packing and clearance. and log files – nearly all of the well test information needed by a production and facility engineer for making quick and responsive decisions. In addition. Hence. gas and water flow rates. line pressure. Multitier Data Integration Effect of Water Cut As the water cut in the flow stream increases. The running costs for 88 EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION – VOLUME 7 ISSUE 1 . The Challenge In-line meters with no need for separation are predominantly referred to as true MPFMs in today’s world. probably only one (see Figure 3) – or very few – uses the advanced technique of intelligent metering coupled with other electromechanical sensors and has proved its performance in the full range of 0–100% GVF and 0–100% water cut. the rule of thumb for MPFM types shown in Figure 2 can be utilised. On top of the extra construction costs for the latter. it becomes more difficult for a multiphase metering system to achieve high levels of accuracy for the oil phase. it is possible to: view graphical trends of ‘flow rate versus time’ per well. Among the many highly accurate commercial non-radioactive MPFMs. Once these data are logged into the 0% GVF 100% water cut Oil Oil 100% GVF 0% water cut (Wide range of non-radioactive MPFM applications) GVF = gas volume fraction. as the platforms can be designed for smaller loads and can have extra space for other things. without sacrificing accuracy. Realtime Data Digitised data acquisition allows realtime on-line readings of oil. the cost related to the export/import of radioactive equipment is higher due to the nature 0% 85% 95% 100% of the goods. the intangible cost of handling export/import procedures for radioactive equipment can be very tiring in almost all countries. Additionally.Production Well Testing Using Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters Figure 2: Rule of Thumb for Multiphase Flow Meter Classification Cost–Benefit Analysis – Non-radioactive versus Radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters Non-radioactive MPFMs.
including early water breakthrough. temperature. A recent test on an ESMER non-radioactive MPFM system (see Figure 5) at TUV NEL in Glasgow. subject to terms and conditions. etc. • gas flow rate: ±6. making the oil company ‘burden-free’ from high-value investment costs. • The oil company pays for well test data per day only. on/off status. leading to reduced downtime and higher revenues.92%. gas coning. making them economical for marginal field operations. • It is possible to maintain efficient performance of facilities. as non-radioactive MPFMs do not require any stringent operating procedures. Specialised service providers provide complete operations. Performance Benefits – Fast Decision-making and Reduced Downtime MPFMs allow faster well tests with no abandonment of production. flow rates. • Realtime monitoring of pressure. which allows higher-frequency testing and thus more representative information of changing conditions and fast detection of abnormalities. • Mobile well testing using non-radioactive MPFMs overcomes the ‘residence time’ and abandonment of production associated with The above performance data were well within the required range of uncertainty defined by the Indian operator. and quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) team for data interpretation. which require separation before individual phases can be metered. thus delaying the downstream process and reducing production throughput. line pressure. As a rule of thumb. line temperature and even sand rate. water cut (0–100%). another way to look at MPFMs is that they are intelligent systems that are able to detect abnormalities and strike alarms for corrective action. • Non-radioactive MPFMs are robust systems that are resilient to theft and vandalism. Scotland. conventional test separators.Production Well Testing Using Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters operation and maintenance of non-radioactive MPFMs are also much lower. maintenance team. providing realtime oil. gas and water flow rates. • Interactive and intelligent systems are able to provide options for operators/engineers to support fast decision-making. GVF (0–100%). Minimal Maintenance and Calibration There is a strong notion in the industry that MPFMs are very maintenance-intensive and require frequent on-site calibration to maintain accuracy. but with subsea MPFM installations millions can be saved by doing away with these test lines. with minimum compulsory well tests per day. and • water cut: ±2. • There is a proactive mode of problem-solving: predictive maintenance planning. • ‘Accurate operations’ are provided through use of nonradioactive MPFMs for well testing. revealed the following performance data (errors) for the full range of 0–100% GVF and 0–100% water cut: Conclusion Non-radioactive multiphase flow metering is a revolution: most oil and gas field operators worldwide are in the process of implementing such systems because of their distinct advantages. as described above. 1km of subsea pipeline installation means more than US1 million of capital money. thus avoiding product deliverable losses. or on each well head if the wells are distributed over a greater area. which was supplied to an Indian operator. per week or per month under a minimum duration of the contract. Subsea Installations – Cost Savings Subsea MPFMs can be installed on subsea test manifolds if wells are in close proximity to each other. What would you prefer – a no-maintenance system with low accuracy requiring minimum calibration. • Non-radioactive MPFMs are able to find the sources of production failures much more quickly.25%. • • • skilled operators. etc.76%. is possible. or a minimal-maintenance system at the right time with high accuracy with up-to-date calibrations? The latter approach leads towards production excellence. Figure 5: ESMER Non-radioactive System Installed on the Test Production Line A B Figure 4: Mobile Well Testing at Test Station (A) and at Well Heads (B) EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION – VOLUME 7 ISSUE 1 89 . including: • skid-mounted non-radioactive MPMFs installed on a truck (for onshore operations) or on a client’s barge (for offshore operations) for well testing. Non-radioactive Multiphase Flow Meters – Breaking Traditional Barriers Non-radioactive MPFMs are being used for mobile well testing services (see Figures 4A and 4B) with the following factors in mind in order to meet production excellence in oilfields: • There is little or no CAPEX cost associated with such services. However. This allows fast remedial action to be taken. ■ • liquid flow rate: ±4. This is the first time that an Indian operator has used a non-radioactive system for its operations in India.
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