Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New calibration method gets strong partnership interest from industry

A research commercialisation project for an innovative new calibration method has provided key end-user insights and generated enquiries from a number of leading meter manufacturers.

“Eight major companies have expressed an interest in being a partner on the project,” says NEL Flow Measurement Consultant Craig Marshall, who developed the new methodology and undertook the commercialisation research (which was supported through the ICURe programme). “My next step will be to go back to each of them to find out exactly how they would like involved.”

The development of the calibration methodology was supported under NEL’s Flow Programme and was done as part of an engineering doctorate Craig is carrying out with Coventry University. It will improve the accuracy of differential pressure meters.  The ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme, funded by InnovateUK and HEFCE, offers university researchers with commercially-promising ideas funding to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their ideas in the marketplace.

To optimise the commercialisation of this new approach, Craig visited and talked to a wide range of business people and other potential stakeholders.

“Over the last few months, I have spoken individually to well over 100 people,” Craig explains. “They included manufacturers, end-users and representatives from calibration labs. Another hundred-plus people, from a wide range of sectors and countries, have heard my presentation or taken part in my webinar on the new methodology.”

“End users are looking for a reduction in costs and are trying to find solutions that will allow them to do the same amount of work for less money,” he adds. “They are also looking for ‘plug-and-play’ and ‘fit-and-forget’ solutions that minimise installation times and maintenance. The new calibration approach will deliver against these requirements.”

A patent application has already been made for the new calibration method, which is specific for meters in single phase flow conditions that are characterised by low Reynolds numbers. A working prototype has been developed, this has successfully proved that the concept works.

For more information, please contact Craig Marshall.

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Supporting the next generation of flow measurement experts

An on-going drive to nurture world-class expertise in flow measurement is moving forward strongly with 15 doctoral students currently being supported by NEL. In addition to supporting five PhDs hosted across three leading UK universities (Coventry, Edinburgh and Glasgow Caledonian), NEL is also supporting 10 of its own engineers as part of its EngD initiative with Coventry University. This scheme has entered its second year and is allowing NEL’s employees to embark on high-impact, industry-focused research.

“This exciting programme of collaboration with universities and academics across the country underlines our commitment to bringing forward a new generation of flow measurement experts,” says Group Manager, Lynn Hunter. “To support the students we provide our facilities for experiments and mentoring from world-renowned flow measurement experts. Overall, NEL aims to continue building and developing a pool of scientific experts capable of dealing with all aspects of oil exploration and production to meet the growing challenges that industry faces.”

Much of the research addresses key technical needs. For example, the subject of a PhD in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University is the investigation of flow measurement for upstream natural gas production. The research aims to investigate the performance of a common wet gas flow measurement technology (Venturi tubes). The work should help improve the accuracy of production measurement and fiscal reporting (used for taxation and allocation purposes). The project aims to characterise measurement performance under realistic field conditions.

As well as investigating key technological challenges, NEL is also championing innovative research that could revolutionise industry practice in the future. For example, one piece of PhD research (being carried out in collaboration with Edinburgh University) is looking at alternative approaches to modelling multiphase oil and gas flows. This research is being carried out because the operating conditions in today’s complex oil and gas fields can be challenging for current simulation methods.

At Coventry University, NEL-supported PhD work includes research into one of the latest techniques of multiphase flow imaging using Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT) coupled with particle filtering computations. This could allow the accurate visualisation of oil and gas flows at the wellhead, which would be a game-changer for industry. Other research at Coventry University involves flow meter diagnostics. This could help solve the maintenance and calibration challenges associated with remote installations.

(Updated from 21 June 2017).

For more information, contact Lynn Hunter.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Launch of wet-gas Joint Industry Project to reduce uncertainties in wet-gas sampling

With the production of wet gas growing significantly over the past few years (it is estimated that 10 per cent of production is from wet gas), to meet some of the  measurement challenges, NEL is now initiating a Joint Industry Project (JIP). The aim of the project is to review and drive advancements in wet-gas sampling to reduce uncertainties and provide practical solutions

Sampling is a critical component for flow assurance mitigation, characterisation of reservoir behaviour and determining the condensate gas ratio for reservoir optimisation and wet-gas metering.  Obtaining a sample for analysis enables information on the composition of the fluids and potentially the liquid-gas ratio to be determined. This information is essential to know the value of the fluids, water content and flow optimisation.  There is a strong need for accurate sampling due to the increase in the handling complex multiphase fluids, exploitation of new resources, flow assurance risks and the drive to reduce expenditure whilst increasing production and enhancing oil recovery.  However the sampling of wet gases is challenging due to the large volume of gas compared to the very small amounts of liquid present. In many sampling applications the uncertainty of the measurement is actually unknown. There has been very little advancement in wet-gas sampling technology despite industry recognition of the benefits of accurate sampling.

For wet-gas sampling, obtaining a representative sample refers to either obtaining a sample that is representative of the chemical composition or representative in terms of the phase ratio.  The application and information required determine which type is appropriate. As sampling is essential to determine the value of the condensate and the gas, there is an industry need/driver to reduce the uncertainty of sampling.

The ideal option would be downhole sampling but the risk and cost have pushed industry towards sampling after the wellhead. In this case to achieve a representative sample the liquid and gas phases are taken separately and analysed before recombination, or isokinetic techniques are used. In all cases it is essential that samples are taken in a controlled manner in terms of pressure and temperature.

The JIP will aim to address the lack of accurate wet-gas sampling; ultimately this will impact on well performance from improved quality measurements; improved production allocation and reservoir monitoring and effective mitigation processes for flow assurance.

This JIP will cover both chemical composition and phase-representative sampling and will consist of physical testing, computational modelling (CFD), and PVT modelling.

Download the Wet Gas Joint Industry Project overview or to find out more, please contact Marc Laing.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

OTC 2017 highlights key issues for oil and gas industry

In May, offshore energy industry experts and leaders from around the world gathered in Houston, Texas for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) 2017.  NEL staff who attended the conference noted a number of key industry issues being raised by speakers and delegates, in particular the impact of US shale production and the growing importance of the digital oilfield.

“Over the last five years the entire business has been changing as a result of the revolution that has taken place in gas and oil production from shale,” says Senior Consultant, Dr Bruno Pinguet, who led NEL’s team at the conference. “Projections show that the USA will be energy independent by 2021 and that economics of production will continue to drive prices down.”

Bruno notes that the immediate consequence of these developments has been a large reduction in the workforce of oil companies and services companies. “Offshore, some companies have managed to reduce the cost to produce a barrel by removing almost 40% of their personnel over the last two years,” he reports.

“To meet the low costs, many companies have found it necessary to have fewer people at the well site,” he adds. “This makes it ever more important that the right information and data gets to the right decision makers and, as the conference showed, it is here that digital solutions, including remote monitoring and calibration, are coming into their own.”

“The need for cost-savings is also highlighted in growing demand for cost-effective multiphase meters that can be easily moved to new wells,” Bruno says. “NEL can play a significant role in this area of work through our consulting and metrology validation work. Over the longer term, our strong relationships with universities will also allow us to develop fresh ideas and solutions to meet any new challenges that industry faces.”

For more information, contact Bruno Pinguet.

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Third Flow Measurement Institute Conference open for registration

The third annual Flow Measurement Institute Conference is due to take place at Coventry University on the 11th of July. NEL staff will be presenting at the event, which will cover the latest research, technological developments and measurement techniques.

“The conference is an unmissable opportunity for researchers and those interested in cutting-edge research to meet and discuss the latest developments in flow measurement,” says Anne Farr, who is part of the FMI Secretariat. “It will be of relevance to a wide range of industry sectors and there will be the chance to listen to some of the leading voices in the sector.”

This year’s conference will cover a wide range of topics, including measurement and meter technologies, enhanced data capture and analysis and advanced calibration techniques and methodologies. Key note speakers will include Prof Andrew Hunt, Executive Director of the Flow Measurement and Fluid Mechanics Research Centre, and Dr. Simon Bittleston.

Dr. Bittleston is currently Vice President of Research for Schlumberger. He is responsible for research centers in Boston, Cambridge (UK), Moscow, Rio, Stavanger, Edmonton, Houston and Dhahran. These centers cover all aspects of oil-field activities.

Among the NEL delegates at the conference will be Control Systems and Software developer, Gordon Lindsay.

“My talk will focus on my engineering doctorate on Coriolis mass flow meters, which I am undertaking with the support of Coventry University,” Gordon explains. “The results of the project thus far will be of interest to anyone who is an end-user of the technology, as our output sheds light on the extent of meter-output drift in extreme industrial environments.”

The conference registration fee is only £50.  For more information, go to www.flowmeasure.com.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Recent meter testing highlights wet gas facility capabilities

A recent Wet Gas test programme involved metering equipment that was taken out of subsea operation for assessment and upgrading before being re-deployed. This work highlights the role NEL can play in supporting this type of life-extension project. It also supports the trend that more operators are looking at equipment repair and refurbishment as an alternative to replacement.

“We have undertaken several of these types of test projects in the last few months,” says Zak Latif, who is NEL’s Section Leader for Wet Gas. “However, it is unusual for us to see wet gas meters that have been previously deployed subsea.  We believe that this is a reflection of the operators’ requirements to reduce capex costs by maintaining subsea devices in robust working order over a longer time period.”

The most recent project involved the testing of a wet gas flow meter that had been deployed subsea for over a decade. The equipment was extracted from the seabed to update key sensors. Following refurbishment, the meter was delivered to NEL for verification that it was metering flows in accordance with the specification. The work was carried out for a leading meter manufacturer on behalf of a major Oil and Gas operator.

“We delivered the equivalent of a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) to validate the newly refurbished technology, testing it over a range of flows and conditions,” explains Zak. “The equipment was installed in our Wet Gas flow facility in East Kilbride and the work involved using a typical test matrix to validate the meter’s performance.”

The testing resulted in a report being produced for the meter manufacturer which subsequently facilitated the re-deployment of the metering system.

For more details, contact Zak Latif.

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Analysis for Innovators fund supporting work on business-focused flow measurement research

A new funding programme set up to enhance business competitiveness and productivity is supporting a wide range of research projects, including two that relate to flow measurement. NEL is one of the partners in the funding programme and is working with the companies behind the two successful flow projects to take their ideas forward.

“The Analysis for Innovators programme is all about helping businesses to improve their performance through the use of advanced analytical technologies,” says Project Manager, David Learmonth. “We were involved in the initial briefing events and helped applicants develop their proposals. We are now providing practical assistance and consultancy expertise.”

The first of the two flow projects relates to the testing and modelling of a drug delivery system which utilises the perfusion process. NEL is working with the company behind the system to help it develop an uncertainty model. This will give confidence that the system can deliver the correct amount of the drug to patients.

The second project is being carried out by a company that is developing an innovative low-cost clamp-on multiphase meter. The company is in the process of developing a prototype which they will bring to NEL for testing.

The Analysis for Innovators programme is a one-off scheme offering R&D, expertise and facilities (worth up to £6.5 million) to UK companies that want to solve an analysis or measurement problem from within their existing business. It is a government funded programme run by Innovate UK.

Alongside NEL, the other programme partners are the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and LGC (formerly the Laboratory of the Government Chemist). All of these organisations are making their facilities available to successful applicants.

Analysis for Innovators opened in January 2017, however Innovate UK and KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network) ran a special series of roadshow events around the UK in last two months of 2016 to publicise and explain the programme. Over 90 projects were submitted for funding.

For more information, contact David Learmonth.

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The impact of shale production and digital technology highlighted at OTC 2017

In May, offshore energy industry experts and leaders from around the world gathered in Houston, Texas for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) 2017.  NEL exhibited at the conference as part of the Scottish Pavilion, highlighting the technological and research expertise that the country offers.

Two key issues for policy makers were highlighted at the conference: the impact of US Shale production and the role that digital technology is playing to help the industry cope with the challenges that this brings.

“Over the last five years the entire business has been changing as a result of the revolution that has taken place in shale,” says Senior Consultant, Dr Bruno Pinguet, who led NEL’s team at the conference. “Projections show that the USA will be energy independent by 2021. This is a significant turn-around from recent years.”

Bruno notes that the immediate consequence of these developments has been a reduction in the workforce of oil companies and services companies.

“To keep the production price low, companies have found it necessary to have fewer people at the well site,” he says. “This makes it ever more important that the right information and data gets to the right decision makers and, as the conference showed, it is here that digital solutions, including remote monitoring and calibration, are coming into their own. This is happening at all levels from the drilling process to production monitoring and is helping companies to optimise their operating and production costs.”

For more information, contact Dr Bruno Pinguet.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Venturi meter research highlights challenges and opportunities for industry

Ongoing research into the performance of Venturi tubes has found that installation effects can cause significant errors and that current standards for the measurement of gas flows using such devices need to be reviewed and updated. Further research is underway to inform this process and to improve the accuracy of this type of technology.

“We have found errors in the region of 10%,” says the leader of the research team, Flow Measurement Engineer, Dr. Emmelyn Graham. “These findings pose challenges to end-users in terms of the management and optimisation of reservoirs and allocation, as the errors we’ve highlighted may be introducing significant discrepancies in flow measurement and financial accounting.”

The project began in March utilising NEL’s wet gas flow facility. The installation effects being investigated include the orientation of meters and up-stream conditions in the flow that is being measured. Although the research has highlighted potential problems for end-users and meter suppliers, it could also bring benefits.

“Venturi meters are a cheaper option than many commercial wet-gas meters,” explains Emmelyn. “If we can produce the data necessary to reduce and correct errors, then we’ll help industry to capitalize on the cost savings that such meters can deliver.”

“Current standards for the measurement of wet-gas flows by Venturi meters cover horizontal installations and two-phase flow,” Emmelyn adds. “However, three-phase conditions exist in the field, as do non-standard installations. Our initial findings indicate that the standards need to be reviewed. The next steps in our research will be instrumental in this process.”

The standards that the NEL team has highlighted for review are ISO/TR 12748:2015 and ISO/TR 11583:2012.

For more details, contact Dr. Emmelyn Graham.

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Industry webinar provides introduction to produced water waste issues

A recent webinar on produced water attracted significant interest from industry professionals from around the world. It provided a detailed introduction to the issue, which makes up the largest waste stream in the oil and gas sector.

“Produced water is a key challenge,” says Environmental Consultant, Dr. Ming Yang, who ran the webinar. “Worldwide for every barrel of oil produced, on average there are roughly four barrels of water co-produced. How produced water is managed directly impacts oil production and also the ultimate total oil recovery from a field.”

Over sixty people took part in the webinar event in May, which attracted participants from a wide range of regions, including the EU, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. Participants represented a variety of companies and organisations, including oil and gas operators, service companies and technology providers.

Delegates got a good understanding of produced water and related regulatory requirements, management options, treatment technologies as well as commonly available reference and field measurement methods.

Participants were encouraged to ask questions and a range of topics were discussed. Questions were asked about the risk-based approach to the management of produced water that is being implemented in North Sea fields and whether this would be extended to other regions. Further questions were also raised about the costs and benefits of the subsea separation of produced water.

The success of the webinar reflects recent increase in interest in NEL's Produced Water Club. This is a leading forum for discussing oil and gas water production management and measurement issues. The club’s next meeting and workshop takes place 12-14 June in Aberdeen.

For more details, contact Dr. Ming Yang.

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EIC briefing highlights key drivers and challenges in world oil and gas industry

In May, the UK’s leading energy industry trade association gave a briefing on the global oil and gas market to staff at NEL. The presentation covered new projects and key developments in production, including the recent OPEC agreement to continue reduced production, and the cost-constraints that are affecting the industry in many parts of the world.

“We were delighted to host the Energy Industries Council (EIC) at our East Kilbride Office,” says Head of Sales, Andrew Fisher. “The meeting was an opportunity to learn about the key drivers that are shaping the industry and the challenges that lie ahead.”

The EIC meeting highlighted that Russia and Saudi Arabia have supported the extension of the OPEC agreement to reduce production until March 2018. Although it is thought that this move will help oil prices recover as excess inventories shrink, it was also noted that this effect will be countered by the fact that shale production in the US is on the rise. It was reported that operators in the US have reduced costs substantially to make production profitable above $40-$45 and that, with recent price stabilization, the rig count in the US is increasing substantially.

“The US market is seen as a major growth opportunity for the industry as well as other markets including Iran, India and Western Africa,” says Andrew. “All of these areas have a large number of new developments underway and about to commence.”

“What came through strongly from the EIC briefing are the ways in which industry is working within a very cost-constrained environment,” Andrew adds. “To save costs companies are utilising simplified engineering with a lower headcount. Other approaches such as the implementation of standardised approaches for field development and production techniques are also returning operators to profitability after recent turbulent times.”

Aside from Upstream developments, the EIC also noted that significant opportunities are emerging within Midstream and Downstream operations, where the US and China are investing heavily.

The EIC is the leading Trade Association with a membership of over 650 UK-registered companies who deliver goods and services to the energy industries worldwide. It provides dedicated services to help members understand, identify and pursue business opportunities globally.

For more information, contact Andrew Fisher.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Press Release - New Flow Measurement Technique for Viscous Oil

NEL has developed a new method to improve the accuracy of differential pressure meters for high viscosity oil, which will help the oil & gas industry to reduce financial exposure and tackle the challenges involved in its measurement.

Approximately 70 per cent of the world’s remaining oil reserves are classed as ‘heavy oil’, while differential pressure meters account for around 40 per cent of all flowmeters in use worldwide. However, differential pressure meters are less frequently used due to current inaccuracies. NEL estimates that these inaccurate measurements could be costing millions of dollars per year, in addition to costs associated with the necessary physical property measurements.

Read the Press Release.

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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Venturi Meter research highlights need for standards review

Ongoing research into the performance of Venturi tubes has found that the current standards for the measurement of wet-gas flows using such devices may need to be reviewed and updated.

“We have highlighted that significant errors can occur with this type of meter due to installation effects,” says the leader of the research team, Flow Measurement Engineer, Emmelyn Graham. “Our initial findings indicate that two key standards need to be reviewed. The next steps in our research will help inform this process.”

The project began in March utilising NEL’s wet gas flow facility. The installation effects being investigated include the orientation of meters and immediate up-stream conditions in the flow that is being measured.

“We’ve found errors that are in the region of 10%,” says Emmelyn. “We are now modifying our test meters to enable further testing. We are also assessing the use of additional measurements to more accurately determine the amount of liquid in gas flows.”

“Current standards for the measurement of wet-gas flows using Venturi tubes cover horizontal installations and two-phase flow,” Emmelyn adds. “However, three-phase conditions exist in the field, as do non-standard installation conditions. It is clear that these issues must be addressed in any review.”

The standards that the NEL team have highlighted for reviewed are ISO/TR 12748:2015 and ISO/TR 11583:2012. ISO/TR 12748:2015 describes production flow measurement of wet natural gas streams. ISO/TR 11583:2012 describes the measurement of wet gas with differential pressure meters, including Venturi tubes.

For more details, contact Emmelyn Graham.

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Commissioning compliance project helps new Glasgow hospital go green

Emission measurements have been completed on a range of heating plant and energy equipment at the new Imaging Centre of Excellence within the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, the largest acute hospital in Western Europe.

Emission measurements were carried out on three boilers, a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit and a steam generator. The commissioning compliance work involved sampling, data analysis and reporting as well as the units being tested for emission concentrations of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO).

“It was found that all the installed units were operating as rated and within the relevant environmental standards,” says Service Leader John Galbraith, who led the test team. “It was part of the process the Imaging Centre had to go through to obtain the compliance certification it needs for its operator’s licence.”

“The Glasgow hospital’s project took two days and was relatively small-scale in comparison with other projects we have been involved with,” John explains. “It shows that we are capable of turning round a discrete project quickly and cost-effectively.”

“NEL carries out a significant amount of other commissioning compliance work,” John adds. “For example, we have just been providing a similar service to a large-scale municipal energy-from-waste power plant project.”

According to John, NEL’s commissioning compliance team gets a significant quantity of repeat business due to the quality of its work and the professional way in which it delivers its services.

“We can react quickly to changing customer requirements and deliver quick turn-arounds,” he says. “We have a number of loyal customers who trust us to provide the high level of service they require.”

For more details, contact John Galbraith.

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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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