Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Call for response to Green Paper on UK’s future industrial strategy

The government’s Green Paper, Building Our Industrial Strategy, addresses many vital issues, but needs as much input as possible from industry and the research community.

“We have put in our response to the paper,” says Operations Director, Mark Roscoe. “We’d now like to encourage as many other research agencies and businesses to have their say. This is the only way to ensure that the strategy fully reflects the priorities of their sectors and the challenges they face."

NEL’s response highlights that whilst it is positive that further investment and focus is planned, the strategy should go further in supporting and investing in science, research and innovation to ensure that the UK remains globally competitive.

“Taking the UK Oil & Gas market as an example,” Mark explains, “new innovations are continually demanded by industry to ensure that we remain globally competitive. More focus is required on how we can take the talent and innovation that resides within our academic community and start to apply that to industry practice.”

The Green Paper sets out a new vision for a modern British industrial strategy and aims to address some of the challenges thrown up by BREXIT. It identifies 10 pillars that the government believes are important to drive forward an industrial strategy across the entire economy. These pillars include science, research and innovation and business growth and investment.

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), that is co-ordinating the consultation on the strategy, the paper sets out how the Government proposes to build a modern industrial strategy. It is not intended to be the last word, but to start a consultation.

BEIS welcomes comments as part of a broad discussion on the approach and ideas that are set out in the paper. Responses should be submitted no later than 17th April 2017 using the CitizenSpace online consultation platform.

For more information, please contact Marc Roscoe.

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New Singapore collaboration highlights important developments in the monitoring of fuel bunkering

NEL has recently signed an agreement with Mogas Flow Lab (MFL) to provide a commercial dispute resolution service for fuel bunkering in Singapore.

“This exciting development has been driven by recent changes in the country’s regulatory framework,” says NEL’s Business Development Manager in the Region, Gilbert Tonner. “Singapore is taking the lead in improving accuracy and transparency in this area. There is a good chance that similar moves may be made in other ports around the world, including in Europe.”

Following changes made by Singapore’s Marine Ports Authority (MPA), all fuel transfers in the country have now to be carried out using Mass Flow Meters (MFM). As a result, bunkering tanker owners that use the port have installed Coriolis meters. Under the new regulations, all MFMs must have a measurement uncertainty of no larger than ±0.5% and must be recalibrated every three years.

It is expected that various disputes relating to these regulations will arise. NEL’s Southeast Asian team will work with MFL to provide the necessary technical expertise to resolve these disputes. Together, they will review MFM compliance and, where appropriate, will review ships’ measurement systems, data and procedures. They will also serve as expert witnesses in any disputes arising from the use of MFM in fuel bunkering activities.

The bunkering fuel industry in Singapore has a value of around $13.67 billion per annum and is supplied by approximately 240 independently operated bunkering tankers. These tankers collect and purchase fuel from local refineries and terminals and sell it to vessel operators.

Since 2001, MFL has been actively engaged in the business of providing traceability and certification metrology services.

For more information, contact Gilbert Tonner.

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Nigerian Regulator visits NEL to discuss CFD project

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has been used to model the performance of a key piece of metering technology being designed and manufactured for a global oil company as part of the Egina project. Located in Nigeria, this is one of the world’s most ambitious ultra-deep water offshore fields. The project was undertaken to check that the planned equipment would comply with relevant operational standards.

“There was a lot of interest in the approach we took from the authorities in Nigeria, to the extent that a member of the country’s Regulator for oil and gas came to visit NEL in December,” says CFD Team Manager, Marc Laing. “The Regulator met with managers at NEL’s East Kilbride headquarters to discuss project findings and to get briefed on the CFD approach and the work we had carried out, work that will ultimately be deployed in his country.”

“The regulator wanted to speak with our experts to get an understanding of the calculations that had been undertaken and how this would affect operations in Nigeria,” Marc adds. “Overall he was very happy with the analysis carried out by NEL and recommended that work should begin to construct the rig as planned.”

The project provides a good example of the way in which NEL is bringing UK expertise to countries in West Africa and other regions where oil and gas exploration calls for innovative technological solutions.

“We ran analysis on the two system configurations proposed for the project,” says Marc, who explains that the metering skid under assessment will be located on a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. "We found that both design approaches would meet these requirements.”

For more details, contact Marc Laing.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Research to develop a virtual metering system to help improve measurement accuracy

A new research project has been launched to develop a virtual meter system (VMS) that will be validated using NEL’s traceable flow facilities. The aim of this work is to lay the foundations for the development of universal VMS software which will help industry to improve measurement accuracy and reduce expense. This is an issue that has been identified as a priority for industry by the UK’s Flow Measurement Institute.

“Although the benefits of using VMS are well understood, there has been little research carried out to advance the approach and to instil greater confidence in its use,” says Group Manager Lynn Hunter, who explains that a virtual meter system uses mathematical models and process conditions to estimate flow rates.

The project will develop a condition-based virtual metering model for estimating flow rates in real time without the use of a physical flow meter. Multiple dynamic statistical models will be developed to predict flow rates, which will take full advantage of the instrumentation already installed at NEL. The project will feed into the development of VMS software that can be used to support industry.

The demand for VMS is driven by the fact that it is challenging and expensive to measure water, gas and oil in changing flow regimes. Current multiphase flow meter systems can also exhibit high measurement uncertainties when installed in the field.

“VMS can help drive measurement uncertainty down by providing additional data to cross reference multiphase flow meter performance,” says Lynn. “It has been reported that the use of a VMS in conjunction with flow metering can half the measurement uncertainty.”

“VMS can provide a cost effective approach to metering, as well as back-up and redundancy in the event of flow meter failure,” Lynn adds. “It can also provide valuable data to help identify operational problems in pipeline networks and inform preventative maintenance programmes.”

For more details, contact Lynn Hunter.

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Oman conference highlights future business opportunities

A recent industry conference in Oman provided an excellent forum to share British metering expertise and highlighted a number of important business opportunities for UK firms.

“This was a great chance to promote NEL and strengthen our links with researchers and companies in the country,” says Environmental Consultant, Dr Ming Yang, who delivered a well-received presentation at the 2nd Middle East Oilfield Produced Water Conference and Exhibition.  This was held in Muscat in February.

“The theme of the conference was the treatment and reuse of produced water from oil and gas operations and all of the talks and discussions showed just how important this issue is in this water-scarce region,” Ming explains. “The oil and gas industry in the region produces nearly a million cubic metres of produced water a day. In the past this water has been disposed of by injecting it deep into the ground but companies are now looking at different technology options to treat and re-use it.”

Ming highlights reed-bed filtration as an approach that is already being used in Oman. The leading oil exploration and production company in the country, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), is using this approach to treat well over 100,000m3 of produced water a day.

“PDO is now looking for technology to further treat the water coming out of the reed beds so that it can be used for irrigation and other agriculture purposes,” Ming says. “PDO is also looking for technology that can treat hypersaline produced water so that it can be used for steam generation.”

The Oman conference was attended by about 60 people from around the world. NEL is now following up a number of new training and consultancy opportunities in the region.

For more details, contact Ming Yang.

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Service condition calibration webinar attracts international audience

A recent webinar on meter calibration proved to be a hugely popular event, attracting a large audience and generating a lively on-line debate.

“I spoke about the importance of calibrating at service conditions including increased pressures and temperatures,” says Project Engineer, Chris Mills, who presented the webinar. “My aim was to show that service conditions can have a significant impact on meter performance and that it is something that technicians should take into account. I also looked at the performance of various flow meters that are commonly used in the oil and gas industry.”

The webinar, which took place in February, was viewed by people from all over the world, including the Middle East, South America, the USA and Europe. Participants were mainly drawn from the oil and gas industry but process and other industries were represented too.

“The people who viewed the webinar were particularly interested in NEL’s real-world experience covering different meter types and sizes,” Chris explains. “Although the webinar focused on elevated conditions, I was also asked about the calibration of meters that will be used at Arctic conditions so we went to both ends of the temperature spectrum.”

Amongst the key issues that Chris highlighted was the fact that Coriolis flowmeters cannot simply be calibrated at ambient conditions and then deployed to elevated service conditions. Among the types of meters covered were twin-tube Coriolis meters and multipath ultrasonic meters.

The webinar was part of NEL’s knowledge transfer programme, which is continuing throughout 2017. For more information on the webinar schedule and other training and knowledge transfer, contact Marietta Hughes.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Multiphase test facility performance improvements announced

Significant improvements have been made in the performance of NEL’s multiphase flow facility.

“Recent tests have shown that, over the past few years, the facility has significantly reduced overall uncertainties in liquid volume flow, gas volume flow and water-liquid ratio,” says Flow Measurement Engineer, Terri Leonard. “This means that meter manufacturers and others in industry and academia can have even greater confidence in this reference system for meter testing and verification.”

Uncertainties for liquid volume flow have dropped from 1% to 0.5%, uncertainties for gas volume flow have dropped from 1.5% to 0.5% and uncertainties for water-liquid ratio have dropped from 1% to 0.25% absolute.

These findings have come out of work done as part of a European Joint Research Project (JRP) that incorporates the world’s first comprehensive intercomparison study between three leading European multiphase flow metrology laboratories.

“The improvements have been achieved thanks to the expertise and experience of the technicians and researchers who run the facility, as well as our participation in the JRP,” says Terri. “The steps we’ve taken include reviewing the test rig’s uncertainty budget and making necessary updates, revising drift uncertainty values for all reference instruments and calibrating the gas and oil reference meters in-situ.”

The JRP is jointly funded by the European Commission and participating countries within Euramet and the European Union and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

NEL’s Multiphase Flow Facility is currently the only facility accredited to ISO17025:2005 in the world by UKAS [Testing Laboratory No. 0432]. The facility has recently been upgraded to operate at an elevated pressure of 100bar and, as the reported findings show, this has been done without impacting on the uncertainty of reference measurements.

For more information, contact Terri Leonard.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Flow imaging technology offers exciting potential for multiphase flow research

A prototype design for a novel device that visualises flows within pipes offers significant potential benefits for multiphase flow research.

“The device allows us to see what’s going on at multiphase process conditions,” explains lead researcher, David Millington. “These conditions include complex hydrodynamic fluid interactions, such as slug flows, that are not yet fully understood.”

According to David, the further development of this device should enable a technology that can withstand the pressures and temperatures found in modern multiphase flow loop facilities. This will support current research into multiphase flow dynamics and extend it into the higher pressure environments that are typically encountered within oil and gas systems.

The prototype tomography sensor uses eight electrodes positioned around a pipe. The information these sensors provide is used to create an image of the cross-sectional flow structure at a given moment in time. This is performed at very high speed, which allows the data to be collected and displayed in real-time.

“From a research point of view, this will open an exciting opportunity to identify multiphase flow patterns that we have previously been unable to see,” explains David. “Some exciting research has already been published, revealing that liquid ‘slugs’ within a pipe might have several structure variations.”

The NEL study is supported by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Intellectual property on the sensor is owned by Professor Andrew Hunt of Coventry University, who is collaborating with the NEL team. The sensor is currently a clamp-on device but the team are now hoping to develop a spoolpiece dedicated to research into multiphase flow patterns.

For more information, contact David Millington.

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Flow measurement training about to start in Brazil

Companies in Brazil will soon benefit first-hand from UK expertise in flow measurement thanks to a programme of training that is due to be run in the country over the next month. This work is part of NEL’s knowledge transfer remit and builds on work done in South America several years ago.

“This is a great opportunity to promote NEL and British expertise in Brazil,” says Environmental Consultant, Dr Ming Yang, who is running the training. “We’ll be able to support companies in this oil-rich country and establish new links with operators and services companies across the continent.”

Ming is being supported by local training organisations in Brazil and also by Scottish Enterprise. He will conduct workshops on the subject of oil-in-water and solid-in-water measurement in Rio and São Paulo towards the end of March.

Local operators and service companies including Petrobras, Statoil, Chevron, SBM and MODEC are expected to be among the attendees. Concentration measurement and particle size will be among the issues covered at the planned workshop events.

As part of the trip, Ming also intends to visit SENAI (the National Service of Industrial Training). He will discuss a potential oil-in-water measurement project that already has the support of the multi-national energy company Petrobras. Ming is planning to conduct an informal lunch-and-learn meeting for SENAI’s staff and will take the opportunity to strengthen UK links with this important national body.

For more information, contact Dr Ming Yang.  For more information on NEL training, see our Training Course Programme 2017.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Research reveals errors in widely used oil density calculations

Researchers have highlighted potentially significant errors in the calculation methods that are widely used to account for the effects of temperature and pressure on the density of hydrocarbons.

“We have a research project underway which has shown that errors become significant when large differences in temperature and pressure are involved,” says Principal Consultant, Dr Norman Glen, whose team has found errors of about 0.25%. “We are currently quantifying the inaccuracies for a range of oils and conditions and believe that the results will have significant implications for real-world operating conditions.”

“0.25% is the limit on uncertainty for the measurement of oil for fiscal purposes in the UK,” explains Norman. “If a company is introducing a substantial percentage of this uncertainty through inaccurate density calculations then it won’t come in under its overall uncertainty threshold.”

The calculations Norman and his team are studying are based on American Petroleum Institute (API) figures and are widely used to take into account temperature and pressure differences in measurement systems that measure different aspects of flow at different locations.  An example of this would be in systems that have a flow meter and a densitometer in different locations.

The calculations are also used to convert density at operating conditions to standards conditions. This has implications in a range of situations. For example, if a compact prover is used to calibrate a device and this is operating across an extended range of temperatures and pressures then the limitations in the calculations highlighted by Norman’s team could cause significant errors.

The research is scheduled to be finished in March 2017.

For more information, contact Norman Glen.

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New strategic training programme designed to meet industry needs

A new programme of monthly training courses has just been announced. The courses, which begin in March, are focused on meeting the training needs of the oil and gas industry. They cover all the key elements of flow measurement science and engineering, including multiphase and wet gas flow measurement, the importance of calibration, flow calculations and custody transfer measurement systems.

“At NEL we’re now seeing an increase in demand for measurement guidance and advice as exploration levels and investments pick up,” says Consultancy Group Manager, Andrew Fisher. “In light of this demand, we have expanded our planned training events for 2017 to share NEL’s decades of flow measurement experience.”

“Our new training programme takes a focused approach to meeting industry needs,” Andrew explains. “It’s been developed in response to the challenges now facing the industry which, over recent years, has had to adapt to a lower cost base. Although this downward trend seems to be stabilizing, there has been a substantial loss of expertise both in the UK and overseas where expat communities have been significantly reduced.”

“We have also expanded our range of free Expert Lunch and Learn events,” Andrew adds. “These more informal events will help industry fill in specific knowledge gaps that we’ve highlighted through our ongoing programme of industry engagement and consultation.”

The new training programme will be delivered at NEL’s headquarters in East Kilbride and in Aberdeen, however the training team is available to deliver in-house courses from any aspect of the programme to companies around the world.

The training builds on the work NEL delivered in 2016. This featured a range of well-received training and knowledge transfer events, conferences and workshops in numerous locations in Europe and in many other countries, including Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

For more details, see our training page or contact Andrew Fisher.

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SWIG Workshop highlights opportunities and challenges in upcoming water reforms

The recent Sensors for Water Interest Group (SWIG) workshop drew attention to the upcoming market reform in the English water industry and highlighted the multiple opportunities that the change will offer to instrument manufacturers, data analysts and others linked to the water supply chain.

“The workshop showed that this is going to be a challenging transition period for new wholesalers and inevitably there will be some teething problems,” says Consultancy Group Manager, Andrew Fisher, who presented a talk at the workshop. “However, it also showed that the rewards will be there for companies and organisations that engage early.”

The event, which took place in Birmingham in February, attracted a number of water retailers and wholesalers. It looked at the impact and opportunities from full deregulation of the English water industry through the government’s Open Water programme. Under this initiative, from April 2017, non-domestic water customers in England will be able to choose their retailer for the first time.

The workshop highlighted the fact that the market operator (MOSL) has completed and tested the set-up of the core IT systems to facilitate an operational market. Attendees heard that retailers are ready for full market opening and customers are slowly becoming aware of the changes, although there are questions whether OFWAT’s planned marketing budget of £300,000 is enough to stimulate awareness.

“There is a danger that wholesalers may be swamped with demand given challenges around customer data accuracy,” says Andrew. “Wholesalers will have to balance managing complex and aging networks with retailer and customer needs and often these are conflicting priorities. However, there will be lots of opportunities for manufacturers to support wholesalers by supplying technology such as data loggers, sensors, smart meters and other instrumentation. This advancement in technology will also generate a huge amount of Big Data so there will be opportunities for analysts to spot trends to help proactively manage customers and networks.”

NEL are experts in flow measurement technology, modelling and network uncertainty management and are available to recommend the best monitoring equipment to water wholesale companies to help them optimise their investments.

For more details, contact Andrew Fisher.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

International Science Review’s positive findings made public

The results of the 2016 International Science Review of the UK's National Measurement System have recently been made available to the public. The review assessed the quality of science performed by the three UK National Measurement Laboratories.  It found that the Flow Measurement work that NEL delivers is 'internationally leading' and that the level of engagement NEL has with industry is at the same high level.

“This is a terrific outcome which can only help the UK measurement science community in the challenging times ahead,” says NEL’s Managing Director, Brian Millington. “Overall, the review was highly complimentary of the quality of science being undertaken. This is especially gratifying given the funding challenges UK measurement science has faced in recent years relative to its international peers and competitors, notably in the US and Germany.”

The International Science Review assessed the quality and relevance of the science output of NEL along with that of NPL (National Physical Laboratory) and LGC (formerly Laboratory of the Government Chemist).

The review was based primarily on written evidence prepared by senior scientists and assessments completed by a group of 26 Expert Reviewers. The Expert Reviewers were drawn from National Measurement Institutes, industry, academia and other research and technology organisations. Half of the Expert Reviewers were from outside the UK, ensuring that the exercise delivered truly international conclusions.

The review highlighted that the National Measurement laboratories are able to clearly elucidate the good benefit of their work to the UK and global economy, and that they can claim international leadership in a number of targeted areas. It also noted that the laboratories demonstrate considerable value for money

For more information, contact Brian Millington.

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Key standards and calibration research to be presented at fifth European Flow Measurement Workshop

New research on the development of flow measurement standards and meter calibrations will be presented at the upcoming fifth European Flow Measurement Workshop. The findings, which follow on from recent work at NEL, have important implications for industry, academia and regulators.

The first workshop paper will look at tests that have been carried out on the ISO Standard ISO/TR 11583. This standard covers two-phase flow through Venturi tubes and orifice plates.

“We’ve shown that the standard could be extended in two interesting ways,” says Michael Reader-Harris, who led the project. “It could be enhanced to cover the three-phase flow of a mixture of gas, oil and water. This would extend its applicability in real-world conditions for industry.”

“The applicability of the standard could also be enhanced in a way that would make the development of a relatively inexpensive three-phase wet gas meter possible,” Michael adds. “This would be a first in the industry. It is an exciting idea that should be taken forward.”

The other NEL paper will highlight the importance of calibrating flow meters at service conditions.

“Due to diminishing conventional oil reserves and the need to secure future energy supplies, the exploitation of more challenging oil fields is increasing,” says Chris Mills, who led the research and will deliver the paper. “As the development of these reserves grows, so too will the requirement for accurate flow measurement at elevated temperature and pressure.”

Chris will talk about the work NEL has done to build and commission a fully UKAS accredited elevated pressure and temperature (EPAT) liquid flow test facility [calibration laboratory No 0009].

The European Flow Measurement Workshop is due to take place between the 4th and 7th of April in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

For more details, contact Chris Mills.

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Korean delegates learn about smart grids and renewables on Scottish islands

A group of South Korean researchers and engineers have visited the Myers Hill wind turbine test site near East Kilbride to learn about Scottish expertise in the field of smart girds and renewable energy for island communities.

“We were very pleased to host the delegation in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde,” says NEL’s Energy & Environmental Services Business Leader, Leon Youngs. “The visitors toured the windfarm site and heard a couple of great presentations about the cutting-edge work that’s taking place in Orkney and Shetland.”

The 16 Korean delegates came from a wide range of organisations, including Seoul National University, LG Electronics Ltd and Lotte Chemical. Their interest in the Scottish projects stemmed from the fact that Korea has many island communities that face similar challenges to those found in Scotland’s more remote areas.

The delegates were introduced to the NINES project. This initiative has been developed by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSE) to introduce new methods to manage Shetland’s electricity distribution network more effectively and to allow renewable energy to play a greater part in meeting the island’s energy needs. They also heard from Smarter Grid Solutions and the ground-breaking work the company is doing to integrate isolated renewable systems into the grid that supplies the island of Orkney.

“This was an exciting meeting, which covered a lot of innovative ground and highlighted Scotland’s leading role in this area,” says Leon. “At NEL, we hope to build on this and are already moving forward with an energy storage project with Lotte Chemical.”

For more information, contact Leon Youngs.

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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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