Thursday, December 07, 2017

Successful Flow Course underpins Knowledge Transfer commitment

One of UK’s longest running and most widely respected flow metrology training courses had another successful run in November, attracting participants from leading companies and metrology organisations. The success of the Principles and Practice of Flow Measurement Training Course underlines NEL’s commitment to supporting industry through scientifically robust knowledge transfer, delivered in a way that is not biased towards any specific technology or company.

“This course is set-up as an introduction to the basics of flow measurement,” explains Consultant Craig Marshall, who delivered the course along with colleagues Neil Bowman and Marc MacDonald. “It has been developed to meet industry needs and is part of the graduate training scheme of a number of companies. It also attracts experienced technicians looking to get a refresher.”

The 2017 course received good feedback from participants, who particularly liked its mix of technical content and hands-on lab demonstrations. All participants gave it the highest overall assessment rating: Very Good.

“The course gave participants the opportunity to gain significant practical experience using our cutting-edge equipment,” explains Craig. “For example, they got to install an innovative clamp-on meter. They also got the chance to see our world-class facilities and the unique technology and capabilities that we offer.”

The course’s eight modules covered everything from the Basics of Fluid Flow through to Multiphase Flow Measurement. One very popular element was the unique Flow Measurement Game that participants played.

“This is a logic game in which we challenge participants to design a variety of metering system for an offshore oil platform,” says Craig. “They are presented with details of the platforms’ inputs and outputs and are given a working budget. This gets them to understand the commercial decisions that have to be taken when choosing and implementing metering technology.”

Companies that participated in the course included National Grid, Petrofac, Spirax Sarco Ltd, Suncor Energy Inc. and Yokogawa UK Ltd and the Norwegian Metrology Service.

The Principles and Practice of Flow Measurement Training Course has been running for over 30 years. It is usually run twice a year in May and November.

For more details, contact Craig Marshall.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Metering review to provide vital information for the future development of UK shale gas fields

A research project looking at the options for measuring the output of hydraulic fracturing wells has started. Over the next few months a team from NEL will be assessing the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential technology and researching how best to improve accuracy and reduce costs.

“If we get into a situation where there is medium to large-scale fracking in the UK, then our report will provide advice on the best way to accurately and cost-effectively measure the production of wells,” says Alick MacGillivray, who is the technical lead on the project.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, is a technique used in the extraction of gas from shale rock formations by injecting water at high pressure. It is moving forward in parts of the UK, although it has been rejected in Scotland due to environmental and political concerns.

The NEL research project is focusing on the measurement of the gas and oil mixture that comes out at the well head. According to Alick there are two main options for this type of measurement. The first is to adopt conventional single phase measurement approaches such as Coriolis or ultrasonic meters. The second is to use multiphase measurement technology, which can be a very expensive option.

“We think that the conventional approach is probably feasible in situations where the output of a well contains up to 5% gas,” Alick explains. “However, above this we think that multiphase is probably the best choice.”

To get the information they need for their study, Alick and his team will be speaking to a wide range of hydraulic fracturing operators. They will be looking particularly closely at the fast-developing American experience and hope to visit the Upstream Production Measurement Forum (to be held in Houston, Texas in the spring) to speak to those operating at the cutting edge of this technology.

The team’s overall target is to finish their research in Spring 2018. The project may lead on to a full-scale meter testing programme later that year.

For more details, contact Alick MacGillivray.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Trade Missions set to raise NEL profile in Egypt and China

At the start of 2018, NEL will be working to raise its profile and build new links in two important markets that have significant potential for British manufacturers and suppliers. At the heart of this push will be its participation in several high-profile trade missions to Egypt and China.

Egypt has one of the fastest growing offshore oil and gas sectors in the Middle East and offers excellent opportunities for UK companies. China is another extremely promising oil and gas market and there are close links between the Chinese and UK in this sector: Chinese National Oil Companies own 32% of the United Kingdom Continental Shelf production and 50% of UK refinery capacity.

In February, NEL will be taking part in the SDI Energy Trade Mission to Egypt and will be part of the Scotland Pavilion at EGYPS. In March, it will also be part of the Scottish Pavilion at the China International Petroleum & Petrochemical Technology Exhibition (CIPPE), due to take place Beijing and Tianjin.

“We are taking part in these events to export our expertise to operators and manufacturers and to position NEL as a flow measurement thought leader in the minds of business people and policy makers,” says Thomas McCudden, Head of Sales and Marketing, who will be representing NEL at all events. “These are relatively new territories for NEL, so there is significant scope for new work and to build networks for others in the industry.”

“I have already made some strong links for both events and have started to set up a series of meetings, mostly with companies from the mid-stream and up-stream segments of the oil and gas industry,” adds Thomas.

Thomas has confirmed appointments with the following companies: ENI, BP, Badr petroleum and several feed consultants.

For more details, contact Thomas McCudden.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop highlights growth of industry collaboration

The recent North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop provided an effective opportunity for attendees to network and learn about current challenges facing the oil and gas sector.

The 2017 event, which was organized by Tekna and took place in October in Tønsberg, Norway, attracted nearly 200 delegates from around the world with its focus on the practical application of flow measurement technology.

“This globally important event always provides an important platform for researchers and industry to get together, and this year was no exception,” says Dr Emmelyn Graham, who was one of a team from NEL which gave presentations at the Workshop. “What was particularly striking was the impression that operators are working together more than they have in the past to share their experiences. This collaboration will hopefully drive better metering performance for the industry.”

Emmelyn, who presented on the installation effects on Venturi tubes in wet-gas flow conditions, noted other indications of increased industry collaboration, especially in multiphase meter development, where users and manufacturers are now working more closely together than ever in an effort to enhance performance.

“It was also very interesting to get the operator experience of virtual metering,” adds Emmelyn. “It was good to get their perspective on this fast-growing technology and to hear directly from them about the challenges that must be addressed.

Other NEL participants included Bruno Pinguet, who presented on the use of multiphase flow meters and Asaad Kenbar, who presented a paper on behalf of Craig Marshall about research on a differential pressure meter for low Reynolds number applications.

The 2017 event included presentations and discussions on the latest metering technology. Around 30 exhibitors showcased their newest technology. The workshop’s programme addressed key issues and drivers, such as the new economic realities that industry is facing, the challenge of reducing cost, uncertainty and environmental pressures.

Next year’s North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop will be held in Aberdeen for the first time. As always when the workshop takes place in the UK, it will be organised by NEL.

For more information, contact Dr Emmelyn Graham.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Flowstudio enhancements on track for roll-out in 2018

The development of the new Flowstudio database management system has reached an important milestone with improvements to the system’s calculation engine and central data storage system now complete and the development of new peripheral user-interface elements underway.

“We will roll-out the system in early 2018,” explains Muir Porter, NEL’s Business Manager. “Its benefits will include a much quicker speed of operation. We will be able to sample data from our test rigs more often and capture a much larger data set. In addition, we’ll be able to look at performance over a longer timescale and interrogate that data to look at trends in, for example, meter performance.”

This phase of the Flowstudio software development programme, which will run until March 2018, builds on the initial work which was to create the system. Flowstudio will replace NEL’s existing, outmoded data acquisition and control software.

“In parallel, we are undertaking a separate collaborative project, with Datalab and Robert Gordon University,” Muir adds. “This project is developing data analysis tools for use when mining large data-sets. This is due to complete at the end of 2017, and it will directly support the aims of the wider Flowstudio project.”

The new Flowstudio system has a SQL Server database as a hub for data storage. This will allow object-orientated programming methods to be used to interrogate data. It will provide a robust approach to data management, one that will cater for fast, digital instrumentation.

The new data management system will facilitate the automation of uncertainty calculations, the seamless linkage to databases holding instrument calibration data and the creation of a platform for remote monitoring and certificate storage. It will greatly improve the capability of the National Standards and should provide a solid platform for the next 10 years of operation.

For more details, contact Muir Porter.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Meter testing highlights importance of flexibility and expertise

A recent programme of flow meter testing for a leading well flow management company has highlighted the value that clients place on NEL’s flexibility and expertise. The test programme, which assessed the performance of meter technology under heavy oil applications, ran smoothly and delivered positive results which the client found particularly interesting.

“Overall the client was very satisfied with the way the testing went and was keen to feed that message back to me,” says John Dods, Sales Coordinator. “Among the positive aspects highlighted by the client was the expertise of our technical team and the importance of our shift patterns, which allowed the required testing durations.”

“The client commented that our approach provided a much more flexible working environment,” says John. “This was in comparison with other labs that tend to work on a more restricted schedule. As this is the first time that this client has used us, it was very useful to get such positive feedback.”

The company has indicated that it is now compiling a matrix for further tests to be carried out on its meter, this time in NEL’s multiphase facility.

“Discussion about this second phase of testing underlines the positive experience the client had at NEL,” says John. “As with all our clients, we now look forward to establishing a long-term working partnership with them.”

For more details, contact John Dods.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Flow Programme moving forward strongly after positive Annual Review meeting

At the beginning of November, NEL met with representatives from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Programme Experts Group (PEG) to review performance of the Flow Programme over the last 12 months. This important strategic meeting also agreed the key issues that should be addressed as part of the new body of Flow Programme work to be undertaken from March 2018.

“The meeting was really positive both in terms of the feedback we got on past and current work and in terms of the direction we have mapped out for future research,” says Operations Director, Mark Roscoe. “Perhaps most importantly, we received a strong recognition that we are undertaking a solid portfolio of research work which reflects industry needs.

At the meeting, there was general agreement that NEL is heading in the right direction with its programme of modernisation for the National Standard facilities. There was also acknowledgement that NEL has done excellent work in developing co-funding for its research work and facility developments.

According to Mark, one other highlight of the meeting included positive feedback on the Eng. D programme that NEL runs with Coventry University. This currently supports nine NEL employees and three external students who are developing their flow metrology expertise through a programme of research. It was agreed that this programme should be further developed and that discussions should be had on the steps needed to move towards a Doctoral Training Centre.

NEL also presented impact roadmaps for ISO5167 (Differential Pressure) and Multiphase research, which were well received. These demonstrated how sustained R & D in these areas will have significant positive impacts for industry over many years.

The Flow Programme is part of the UK’s Engineering and Flow Programme, which underpins measurements of length, mass, density, force, gears and flow in the country. NEL is responsible for the flow measurement aspects of the Programme.  This involves a major programme of research, development and knowledge dissemination concerning leading edge flow measurement challenges.

For more details, contact Mark Roscoe.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Expert advocacy and research flexibility boost multiphase research

Over the last quarter, there has been significant growth in the number of projects going through NEL’s multiphase test facility.

“There are two main reasons for the increase in multiphase research,” says Phil Mark, Group Manager for Testing Services. “We have been enhancing our service flexibility and have improved our profile, expertise and approach to meet customer needs.”

According to Phil, a key contributing factor has been the recruitment of Dr Bruno Pinguet.  “Bruno’s connections in the industry and his strong advocacy of our expertise and world-class test facilities has helped attract clients from all over the world,” says Phil.

Dr Pinguet joined NEL earlier in the year to help the lab remain at the cutting edge of multiphase flow measurement. He has extensive international experience in multiphase flow measurement and is recognised as a world authority on this topic.

“We have always worked in a flexible, client-centred way,” Phil says, elaborating on the approach that has helped boost NEL’s multiphase research. “However, over 2017 we have given an even stronger focus to this aspect of our service delivery. Rather than being rigid in terms of the service we supply, we ask our clients what they are trying to achieve and then work to accommodate their requests.”

Phil highlights a recent project as one example of this flexible approach. This project involved a programme of meter testing for a leading oil exploration and production company from the Middle East.

“We were asked by the client’s team to use of sodium chloride salts in the test reference fluids, as they wanted to recreate the conditions that their meters would see in the field,” Phil explains. “Sodium chloride salts are not usually used because they can be corrosive and we usually employ magnesium sulphate salts, however, we considered our operating and cleaning procedures, rejigged them and were able to meet the client’s requirements.”

For more details, contact Phil Mark.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

New collaboration moves South East Asia Flow Measurement Conference forward

A new collaboration between NEL and two leading calibration and accreditation organisations is set to enhance the next South East Asia Flow Measurement Conference, due to take place in March 2018, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The collaboration is with Colorado Engineering Experiment Station, Inc. (CEESI), which performs calibration for numerous types of flow meters and fluids, and DNV GL, one of the leading global providers of accredited management systems certification and training. Petronas, Malaysia’s oil and gas multinational, will also be involved in the technical committee that reviews abstracts and selects papers for the conference.

The Flow Measurement Conference is an annual event that has been running for over 15 years. It has traditionally been organised by NEL in association with the Malaysian Oil and Gas Services Council (MOGSC) and the Malaysian Measurement and Allocation Working Group (MAWG).

This new partnership will bring a more rounded business perspective to the event, help deliver the strongest technical programme and provide access to a global network of flow measurement expertise and research knowledge. It has been put in place with the aim of growing the event and to help create more opportunities for joint working between US and European companies and their counterparts in South East Asia.

This conference is the only major forum dedicated to addressing the changes in flow measurement practice and technology which affect the region. It brings together individuals from the entire supply chain, including operators, service and supply companies, manufacturers, consultants and regulators. It delivers training, technical presentations, showcases new technology and provides excellent networking opportunities.

The 2018 conference will cover all aspects of flow measurement, including key industry-focused topics such as cost savings, field optimisation and multiphase metering.

For more details, join the Linkedin group or contact Craig Marshall.


Updated 22/11/17


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CFD analysis allows cost-effective metering improvements in North Sea

Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis of flare lines aboard a major offshore oil and gas facility in the North Sea, has provided its operator with a cost-effective and fast mechanism to improve the accuracy of its metering.

“NEL was contracted by the client to investigate potential metering errors due to installation effects in an ultrasonic flare gas metering system,” says CFD Team Manager, Marc Laing, who led the research. “We have supplied the client with correction factors that they can program into their flow computers to improve the accuracy of their measurements. This removes the need to make any costly and time-consuming engineering changes such as removing and re-positioning meters.”

According to Marc, the challenge facing the operator is a common one for many offshore installations where there are space constraints. The solution provided could therefore be of relevance to many operators.

“It is often the case that meter installations cannot be optimally positioned and this leads to problems such as asymmetry and swirl being present at the measurement point,” he explains. “This is a particular problem for ultrasonic meters, which are known to be sensitive to distortions in the velocity flow profile. Potentially, this can result in a reduction in measurement performance and accuracy.”

The CFD analysis involved evaluating the mean axial ultrasonic transducer path velocity in the installed system. This was then compared with the mean path velocity in an ideal setup where the meter has been given the required upstream length to allow the flow profile to fully develop.

The analysis was performed for both high and low pressure flare lines. A range of scenarios were modelled that represented the range of flow conditions that were experienced in the system. These were based on flowrate data and fluid properties, supplied by the client.

For more details, contact Marc Laing.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Louisiana Expo allows international links to be made

The recent 2017 LAGCOE Exposition provided superb networking opportunities to reach a diverse range of international oil and gas professionals.  This resulted in the identification of several research projects and joint ventures. The event was held between the 24th and 26th October in Lafayette, Louisiana, which is home to thousands of companies in the energy supply chain.

“Talking to people at the conference, there seemed to be a renewed confidence in the market which was encouraging to see,” says CFD Team Manager, Marc Laing, who represented NEL at the event and helped staff the Scottish Development International (SDI) stand. “Alongside lots of enquiries about our capabilities, a significant number of business opportunities arose. For example, we are now following up a function-testing project for new valve technology and talking to a manufacturer who is interested in supplying instrumentation to our new multiphase test facility.”

For Marc, one of the key strengths of the Expo was the opportunity to meet flow measurement professionals from all over the world.

“For example, there was a SDI networking event,” he says. “This attracted lots of international interest, including a delegate from the Turkish oil and gas sector who was discussing the joint venture and other opportunities that are flowing from the country’s current investment in his sector.”

Marc also held discussions with Global Scot members. “They highlighted key channels of entry to the US and other countries,” he says, explaining that Global Scots are international business people who have a link or affinity to Scotland. “We discussed what opportunities existed within their companies to use NEL and other Scottish businesses.”

LAGCOE is one of the world's pioneer oil and gas industry expositions. It was established in 1955 and is held biennially to showcase onshore and offshore energy industry products and services. LAGCOE 2017 welcomed more than 10,000 attendees from 21 countries and across the U.S. Attendees had access to more than 360 exhibitors, and enjoyed keynote presentations and technical sessions from world leaders in the onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry.

SDI offers tailored support to companies looking to invest in Scotland. It is the international arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies and offers significant financial incentives and other assistance.

For more details, contact Marc Laing.


Friday, November 10, 2017

New flow measurement courses to bring UK expertise to Malaysian engineers

Starting in early 2018, five new flow measurement courses will be offered to engineers in Malaysia. Developed by NEL consultants who have significant experience of the region, the courses will constitute an important channel for knowledge transfer between the British and Malaysian oil and gas industry.

“We have been putting together this new range of courses over the last year,” says Alick McGillivray, who, until recently, worked as a consultant in NEL’s Kuala Lumpur office. “They are designed to be practically focused, rather than full of equations and theory, and as relevant as possible to the needs of metering engineers working in the oil and gas industry in South East Asia.”

The courses will cover the fundamentals of flow measurement and provide an introduction to measurement uncertainty, custody transfer measurement systems, flow calculations and hydrocarbon allocation. They will be run in Kuala Lumpur and it is hoped that funding support from the Malaysian government will be available for participants from the country, which will significantly reduce their costs.

“There is significant demand for this kind of knowledge transfer,” Alick explains. “Our agent in the region, Cekap Technical Services, has already heard from a significant number of parties who want to participate.”

The five courses have been designed to help people in the industry keep up-to-date with the latest developments in both technology and research. Delegates will be provided with an unbiased view of the various technologies available and the basic knowledge required to make informed choices. Key measurement techniques will be discussed and the importance of each explained.

Participants will have the choice to attend all the interactive training courses, or they will be able to choose only the courses that are most relevant to their professional development.

The courses will be delivered by a team led by Alick MacGillivray. He is a senior consultant with over 25 years of experience in consultancy in the oil and gas and process industries. Alick is also NEL’s Service Leader in measurement uncertainty and has extensive experience in the development of software for a range of industrial clients.

For more details, contact Alick MacGillivray.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

Test protocol to facilitate delivery of new waste-to-energy gasification plant

A test programme is being developed for a new waste-to-energy gasification plant that is under construction in the south of England. The plant will use biomass fuel, sourced locally from both the commercial and industrial sectors, and will make a significant contribution to the UK’s renewable energy mix.

“The plant is being developed by a leading energy provider from Europe,” says Service Leader, John Galbraith, who is heading the test project team. “The client contacted NEL and we are now in the process of drafting a test protocol and procedures for demonstrating the plant’s performance. The work will involve a mix of testing, witnessing and demonstrations of the plant’s operability.”

NEL’s testing programme will be crucial to the successful delivery of the plant because, before it can be handed over to its eventual owner, there are several performance guarantees that must be met. The tests will prove that this has been done.

“The thing that makes it an interesting project for us,” says John, “is the fact that the plant will use processed, pelleted fuel for the gasification process. This technology has significant handling and efficiency benefits over the use of unprocessed fuel, so it will be fascinating to see how it functions and performs.”

“We have extensive experience of working in this sector and have successfully completed projects at a number of major energy-from-waste facilities around the UK,” John adds. “For example, we have provided Reliability and Performance Guarantee Testing for Veolia Environmental Services, Hitachi Zosen Inova and Keppel Seghers.”

NEL has the capabilities to assess multiple performance characteristics of energy facilities, including reliability, thermal capacity, waste throughput and environmental compliance with the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU. All testing is carried out in accordance with FDBR, European and British standards.

For more details, contact John Galbraith.


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

EMPIR JRPs aim to improve real-world metrology performance

Three industry-focused research projects involving NEL have been submitted as Joint Research Projects (JRPs) to the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR).

The proposed projects, which have already made it through several review steps, focus on wet-gas meters, domestic water meters and uncertainty research. They will involve collaboration with National Measurement Institutes (NMIs) across Europe, as well as joint working with end users and regulators. All three have been designed to make metrology more applicable to real-world situations.

NEL is leading the first JRP, which will provide data and models to allow a revision of the ISO standards for the use of wet-gas meters. It is hoped that the project will deliver a three-fold reduction in well production measurement errors and deliver substantial productivity gains.

“Currently there are two ISO standards relating to the use of wet-gas Venturi meters,” says Flow Measurement Engineer, Emmelyn Graham. “However, they have limited application for actual field conditions as they are constrained to two-component conditions and ideal installations. This is a real barrier to the uptake of this important measurement technology.”

The second JRP, of which NEL is a partner, has been designed to promote the harmonized evaluation of measurement uncertainty. “The project will provide useful examples to apply the current standard for uncertainty evaluation in real-life situations,” says Dr. Michael Reader-Harris, who is a Principal Consultant at NEL.  Reliable statements of uncertainty are needed in many diverse areas of measurement, including metrology in the environmental and energy sectors.

The third JRP, of which NEL is also a partner, is aimed at providing European water meter manufacturers and water suppliers with the capability to assess and calibrate domestic water meters at close to real-world conditions. “There are many situations in which meters experience flows that fluctuate significantly, such as when a washing machine fills in three-second bursts,” says Dr. Reader-Harris. “There are indications that these affect meter accuracy. We aim to look into this to improve regulations and standards.”

The EMPIR programme is run by EURAMET, which is the Regional Metrology Organisation (RMO) of Europe.

For more information, contact Emmelyn Graham and Dr Michael Reader-Harris


Updated 10/11/17


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

PPDS consultation helps inform software development roadmap

Over the past month, Senior Flow Consultant, Konrad Kuczynski has been meeting representatives from a wide range of companies to discuss NEL’s innovative PPDS software. This system is currently used by many leading companies to determine the physical properties of fluids. The feedback Konrad has received will help with the planned development of the software system.

“It was exciting to see the diverse ways in which the system is being used and I am pleased with the very positive feedback we received,” says Konrad. “Overall, the consultation has given us an excellent understanding of what the market wants and allowed us to focus our development work. We will be incorporating the points that have been raised and hope to roll out key improvements to the PPDS system in the first quarter of 2018.”

Among the enhancements that are being considered as part of the PPDS development road map are enhancements to the system’s Windows 10 interface and to its SQL server module, DIPPR database import and Intranet server. Plans are also in place to update the Pure Components databank and to add new petroleum fractions and new functionality for the upstream oil market.

Konrad found that many users were not aware of the system’s full capabilities and that it could already do the things they wanted it to do.

“As a result, we have delivered some enhanced training to allow clients to harness the full power of the system,” says Konrad. “We have also made some immediate changes for some users, for example, fine-tuning the user interface to meet specific client needs.”

The PPDS suite of software packages and databases draws on more than 30 years of fluid physical properties research at NEL. Regularly updated and enhanced, it provides quality-assured physical properties of fluid data (numeric values with associated uncertainties) on more than 1,500 chemicals for a wide range of process engineering applications.

Another boost to NEL’s PPDS section occurred in mid-October when it successfully passed its LRQA audit. LRQA is a world leading, independent provider of Business Assurance services.

For more information, contact Konrad Kuczynski


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NEL is a world class provider of technical consulting, research, measurement, testing and programme management services to clients across many industries including oil & gas, renewable and sustainable energy, process and government.

NEL also holds the UK National Standards for flow measurement and has an international reputation in key engineering areas such as flow measurement, computational fluid dynamics, environmental and thermal engineering.

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