Wednesday, April 26, 2017

High viscosity multiphase flow research underway to support the development of heavy oil fields

A detailed technical review of the metering technology currently used for heavy oil multiphase and emulsified flows is currently underway. The aim of this work is to lay the foundations for future research to reduce metering uncertainties and support the development of heavy oil fields in the UK and around the world.

“This is an area that has been identified as a high priority by industry,” says Group Manager Lynn Hunter. “The study involves a number of key stakeholders directly involved in metering and oil and gas production. They have highlighted a range of problems caused by the current lack of verification and evaluation of existing multiphase metering technology in more challenging field conditions.”

The research is important because, although multiphase flow measurement technology is well developed, uncertainties of greater than 20% can be observed under well-controlled laboratory conditions. This equates to significant levels of financial exposure in the field. To put this financial exposure into perspective, for three recently approved heavy oil fields on the UK Continental Shelf – Kraken, Mariner and Bentley - every 0.1% measurement uncertainty equates to around £29.8m (based on a low oil price of £50 per barrel).

“Alongside the meter review, we’re also carrying out a fundamental experimental investigation into the fluid properties of viscous oil, the formation of emulsions and the effect of chemical additives,” says Lynn. “This is another area that needs far greater fundamental understanding. NEL is currently the only independent test facility worldwide with the capabilities and expertise to perform emulsified flow tests.”

“The impact of more viscous oil conditions and related challenges, such as the likely formation of tight emulsions, is not well understood,” says Lynn. “It must be evaluated to allow further improvements to be made.”

An important output from this project will be a well-defined research programme to test and evaluate multiphase metering systems with viscous fluids and emulsions.

For more information, contact Lynn Hunter.


Dubai well-testing workshop highlights cost-saving techniques and approaches

The recent Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Workshop in Dubai on well testing highlighted a variety of important issues, including the use of wireless technology.

“This was a very worthwhile event for us as it highlighted a number of techniques and technologies that are of relevance to our research,” says Project Engineer, Shaun Johnson, who represented NEL at the workshop. “It also showed how the region is now at the forefront of the exploitation of heavy and unconventional oils and that companies operating in this part of the world are pioneering new techniques to exploit these types of fields.”

The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for networking and discussions with delegates from around the region and from further afield. Among the topics on the table were the use of well test data to maximise reservoir production potential.

“Technology is moving to the wireless transmission of data,” says Group Manager Andrew Fisher, who also attended the event. “There has been an increase in this type of innovation to target cost reductions, including the quantifications of real-time cost flows.”

“One very interesting approach discussed at the workshop was the use of a chemical technique to determine how much hydrogen sulphide there is in a well,” Shaun adds. “This involves taking a small rock-core sample from the roof of a well.”

“Overall,” Shaun says, “the workshop showed that companies in the Middle East are facing the same financial challenges as companies elsewhere and are looking at ways of streamlining and optimising their sampling and testing technology.”

For more details, contact Shaun Johnson.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Commercialisation of innovative calibration method underway – industry input now sought

A new software package that can reduce errors associated with differential pressure meters used with high viscosity fluids is being proposed.

“We have a proof of concept for our approach,” says Flow Measurement Consultant Craig Marshall, who has undertaken the work as part of the engineering doctorate he is carrying out with Coventry University. “We are now working out how to best package it for industry.”

“Over the next few months I will be drawing together the information I need to shape the product to meet market needs,” Craig explains. “I’ll be working with end users and manufacturers in the oil and gas, petrochemical, refinery and bunkering industries. I am also approaching the medical, pharmaceutical and food sectors. In fact, I am interested in getting input from any industry that uses high viscosity fluids. So, I’d like to encourage anyone with an interest to get in touch.”

Differential pressure meters account for around 40% of all flow meters in use worldwide today, however, they are designed for low viscosity applications.  By extending their use to high viscosity flows, manufacturers will have a significant opportunity to grow their market share.

The project has received an ICURe innovation grant of £35k.  As part of this, Craig attended an ICURe training course in March.

“The course included a series of presentations, lectures and participatory ‘games’ that taught different ways of thinking to help participants learn the entrepreneurial mind-set,” says Craig. “As I work at NEL, I had a bit of a head start, but I still found the training very useful, as it provided lots of practical information and made me think about the right questions to ask when I visit potential customers. This has helped to shape my strategy and approach.”

Craig has completed a number of initial meetings and is hoping to attend the Middle East Heavy Oil Conference in Bahrain in April and the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas in May to ensure a global perspective is gained.

The ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme, piloted by the SETsquared Partnership and funded by InnovateUK and HEFCE, offers university researchers with commercially-promising ideas up to £50k to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their ideas in the marketplace.

For more information and to be involved in the consultation, please contact Craig Marshall.


South East Asia Flow Measurement Conference focuses on industry challenges

The recent South East Asia Flow Measurement Conference, which took place in Kuala Lumpur, drew in delegates from a wide range of countries and companies and provided an effective forum for the dissemination of the latest research, techniques and technology.

“Based on the feedback from the delegates and exhibitors this event was very successful,” says Gilbert Tonner, who is NEL’s Business Development Manager, Asia Pacific. “The importance of this annual event is now widely recognised in the region, while NEL’s continued hosting of the conference demonstrates our commitment to the region and to knowledge transfer.”

Organised in conjunction with the Malaysian Oil and Gas Services Council (MOGSC) and the MOGSC Measurement and Allocation Working Group, the Conference provided a mixture of presentations from local operators and international organisations. It covered key industry challenges, focusing on the need to reduce both capital and operating costs and highlighting the way in which accurate flow measurement can help ensure company needs are met with as small a financial exposure as possible.

Among the main themes and topics discussed at the conference were Coriolis meters, fluid analysis, differential pressure meters, calibration and multiphase verification. NEL’s Craig Marshall, the Conference Chairman, was also one of the speakers at the event delivering a presentation on a differential pressure meter for low Reynolds numbers.

One innovation that proved successful at the conference was the use of an online app to set questions and get responses, which was well received. The event’s open panel discussions were also lively sessions, generating good debate and information sharing in subjects such as well meter monitoring and diagnostics. The Conference was preceded by two training courses which covered measurement uncertainty and multiphase and wet-gas flow measurement.

For more information, please contact Gilbert Tonner.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The UK Measurement Strategy launched to support UK industry

The UK Measurement Strategy was launched by Lord Prior, Parliamentary under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), on a visit to Huddersfield where he met companies who have benefited from measurement support from the UK's National Measurement System (NMS).

Lord Prior said:  "The UK is a global leader in science and innovation which is why we've committed to placing the sector at the heart of our Industrial Strategy. We want to build on our existing strengths and get even better at commercialising British research, supporting the sector while creating high-skilled jobs up and down the country."

The UK Measurement Strategy strongly supports the UK Industrial Strategy Green Paper, as highly accurate measurement will provide the foundations on which the UK's future industrial success will be built.

It will support the UK's regulatory environment; improve the UK's measurement skills that can increase productivity and provide the confidence to innovate or invest; and respond to the challenge of the data revolution through confidence in data provenance, storage, transmission and inter-operability that measurement can bring.

On the Strategy, Lord Prior said:

"The pioneering Measurement Strategy will revolutionise the way we live, capitalise on our expertise in setting measurement standards and provide opportunities to develop solutions to modern day challenges both in the UK and around the world."

The strategy sets out major priorities to deliver impact and states:

  • To contribute to the UK's rich tradition of knowledge creation, we will continue to invest in a world-leading measurement infrastructure that will put the UK in the most advantageous position, both economically and to ensure quality of life for our citizens.
  • To enable wealth creation, we will ensure the appropriate measurement infrastructure to: support policy, standards and regulatory environment; get better connected to our end-users to deliver impact; lead the improvement of the UK's measurement skills that will support increased productivity and innovation; and respond to the challenge of data revolution through confidence in data provenance, storage, transmission and inter-operability that measurement can bring.

Through measurement and standardised protocols, we want to bring confidence to invest, to trade, to innovate, and to deliver national services in the UK that ensure our citizens are healthy and secure within a sustainable environment.

To deliver our vision we have identified five strategic themes:

  1. Ensure a national approach to measurement capabilities that drives effective investment in the UK measurement laboratories in partnership with the UK science base and business to deliver a world-leading measurement infrastructure.
  2. Champion measurement across government to ensure good policy, standards, and regulation.
  3. Work smarter and get better connected to end users to increase awareness, access, and uptake of best practice measurement.
  4. Improve the UK's measurement skills across all sectors of the UK to accelerate new technology uptake and fully exploit the benefits of a high tech economy.
  5. Bring together the diverse communities to understand the new capabilities in data science and develop a framework to deliver confidence in the intelligent and effective use of data based on measurement traceability and uncertainty analysis.

The UK Measurement Strategy will be delivered by the UK national measurement laboratories:

  • NPL (National Physical Laboratory) – the UK's National Measurement Institute
  • LGC (formerly Laboratory of the Government Chemist) – designated for chemical and biometrology
  • NEL (National Engineering Laboratory) – designated for fluid flow metrology
  • BEIS - Regulatory Delivery – designated for legal metrology
  • NGML (National Gear Metrology Laboratory) – designated for gear metrology
  • NIBSC (National Institute for Biological Standards and Control) – designated for bioactivity metrology

Article republished from NPL Weekly Bulletin 31st March 2017

For more info, contact Marietta Hughes.


New data management system rollout to significantly boost research capabilities

A new data acquisition and storage management system is due to be rolled out across all flow facilities at NEL. The new system will significantly improve the current data capture, storage, interfacing and mining abilities and will enable high-volume and high-speed data acquisition and analysis.

“From a research and technology development perspective, this represents a big plus for our team and our customers and research partners,” explains Muir Porter, NEL’s Business Manager. “We started the painstaking development programme for this new system about a year ago, it is currently being tested and we are planning a phased introduction over the next six months.”

The project has involved the design and implementation of new data capture and calculation software combined with a modular database management system (DBMS). In the new system, raw data is read from process instrumentation and written to the DBMS using data acquisition software running on a facility acquisition computer.

According to Muir, the new system will deliver a wide range of benefits. For example, it will improve the speed and efficiency of high-volume data acquisition and storage. It will also be automatically integrated with other key functions such as traceability and reporting.  The new storage structure will facilitate the large-scale mining and analysis of historical data and create a platform for remote monitoring and certification storage.

The development will allow NEL to address key future challenges that involve the capture and analysis of large volumes of data. These include the growing demand for elevated pressure and temperature testing of fluids of different phases and physical properties and the development of technology requiring real-time 3-D image-mapping and large instrument arrays.

For more information, contact Muir Porter.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Unique £16m Centre of Excellence to cement Scotland as subsea global leader

A new £16 million Centre of Excellence (CoE) for subsea development, which will be unrivalled anywhere else in the world, is to be established in East Kilbride positioning Scotland as a world leader in multiphase flow measurement.

Led by TÜV SÜD Limited (NEL), a leading provider of research and development, consultancy and testing to the international oil & gas industry, this investment will provide Scotland with a unique global capability, build on its position as a leader in subsea engineering and oil & gas innovation and make a significant contribution to growth ambitions of companies operating within the oil & gas sector.

TÜV SÜD AG has agreed to invest £11.1 million in its NEL site in East Kilbride to develop the CoE for subsea development, thanks to a £4.9 million research and development grant from Scottish Enterprise.  The project marks the largest capital investment to date in the company’s UK business and, in addition to creating at least 17 new jobs, will safeguard a further 82 existing jobs in Scotland.

Designed to provide a new, best-in-class, high pressure multiphase flow test facility, with a test range beyond anything currently available anywhere else in the world, the CoE will enable NEL to provide world leading fluid flow technical services to the global oil & gas production market over the next 25 years.

The centre will provide opportunities for company-led industrial projects, development work with SMEs, hands-on training for the industry and academic research.

Focussed predominantly on the £50 billion per annum global subsea sector, which is already home to approximately 370 companies in Scotland, the CoE will also offer potential benefits to companies in other sectors such as nuclear power, food and drink, aerospace and renewable energy.

The announcement comes during a visit by Economy Secretary Keith Brown to the Scottish Enterprise Technology Park in East Kilbride where the new facility will be built over the next two years.

He said: “Today’s announcement is great news for Scotland and its oil and gas sector. I recently returned from a trip to Germany to establish stronger trading links between ‎Scotland and Germany. While there, I met with company executives from another division within the TUV SUD group.  Therefore, it gives me particular pleasure to announce this total investment of £16 million, which includes £11 million from TUV SUD AG in Munich, NEL’s parent company. This will help to create at least 17 jobs and protect 82 more in the Scottish Enterprise Technology Park in East Kilbride.

“It is a testament to the international standing of the oil and gas sector in Scotland that the company has chosen to make this investment. It also reflects the bright future that the oil and gas industry and its supply chain can enjoy, especially when supported by innovations such as this Centre for Excellence for Flow Measurement and Fluid Mechanics‎.

"When complete, the Centre will place Scotland as a world leader in this exciting field. This will not only help the oil and gas sector to maximise economic recovery, but could have wide-ranging benefits for the food and drink, renewable and aerospace industries, supporting sustainable growth across the Scottish economy.”

Managing director of strategy and sectors at Scottish Enterprise, Linda Hanna, said: “In February last year we committed to supporting more oil & gas firms to deliver new innovative projects to help protect and sustain the future of the sector in Scotland.

“Our £4.9 million contribution was the catalyst behind NEL securing over £11 million of funding from its parent company, ensuring the skills and expertise at NEL are anchored in Scotland for the long term.  This new facility will offer research facilities and a breadth of capability unmatched anywhere else in the world, supporting Scotland’s oil & gas sector to maximise its global competitiveness and position Scotland as a global leader in multiphase flow measurement.  It will play a key role in the delivery of our subsea action plan launched earlier this year.

“NEL, part of the TÜV SÜD Group, is a forward thinking, ambitious organisation which, through our account management support, we are working intensively with to help deliver its growth ambition.  This latest support builds on our previous assistance around financial readiness, organisational development and management training and I look forward to continuing to working closely with the management team to realise future growth plans.”

Brian Millington, NEL’s Managing Director, said: “This is fantastic news for NEL and the investment from both Scottish Enterprise and our parent company, TÜV SÜD, demonstrates their confidence in NEL’s future and that of the oil & gas sector. This will be an enormous boost for NEL’s business given all the oil & gas sector challenges of recent years, and will represent a superb opportunity to maintain and enhance NEL’s profile of a genuine world-leader in flow measurement.”

Michael Valente, CEO of TUV SUD UK’s overall business, said: “This new technology centre will help NEL foster  its worldwide reputation as leader in multiphase and wet gas flow measurement testing, operating the only global facility offering full range of flow rates and high pressure capabilities.

Our new investment will underpin technological advancement in this industry and will also bring competitive advantage to the very strong UK flow measurement instrumentation sector as it seeks markets beyond the borders of the EU. We appreciate the ongoing support which Scottish Enterprise provides to our business to achieve our aims.”

Welcoming the announcement, Colette Cohen of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, added: “Subsea is a core area of excellence in the UK and it is great to see continued investment in the facilities and capabilities supporting this key area of expertise.”


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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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