Recently my Emerson RSS news Feed alerted me to a wireless application on a North Sea oil and gas platform. I sent a note to the team involved with this project asking about their perspectives.
I received great notes back from Jeremy Fearn, a Smart Wireless Specialist based in the United Kingdom and Rolf Jenssen, a manager in our Norwegian Asset Optimization organization.
The overall challenge this oil and gas producer faced was the desire to measure annular pressure of the wells remotely by replacing the local pressure gauges. These measurements monitor the integrity of the tubing and annulus in the area between the production tubing and well casing.
Now, from my days on oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, I recall that adding pressure measurement around the wellheads can be difficult and cost prohibitive. As Jeremy points out, this requires cable tray, cables, installation, drawings, man-hours, transportation and accommodation of the team to do all this. Also, the areas around the wellheads are classified as hazardous areas.
The team found the easiest and least disruptive way to replace the existing local pressure gauges was to use a gauge adapter with the Rosemount wireless pressure transmitters. This provided a direct replacement of the manual gauges with the wireless devices.
Another challenge was the distance between the wireless gateway and the room with the automation systems and AMS Device Manager software. Jeremy described their solution to use the fiber optic option for an Ethernet connection to the gateway. A short length of fiber optic cable was used to connect from the wireless gateway to a nearby cabinet room. This room contained spare optical fibers, which allowed the team to connect through to the process Ethernet backbone.
The platform already had AMS Device Manager software used for on-line diagnostics of 125 valves equipped with HART DVC controllers. AMS Device Manager also included an AMS OPC server. This software pulled in all the wireless pressure readings from the wireless gateway. From here, the data was passed to an OPC client on the host automation system. The AMS software also tagged all the parameters in the wireless HART transmitters, making it easy to select a parameter showing the overall quality of the measurement. This meant the quality of the measurement also could be transferred to the operators on the automation system. For detailed information about the status, configuration and health of the wireless transmitters, AMS Device Manager with EDDL files is used, clearly showing any failures.
Rolf also noted that the automation system’s OPC client during the set up uploaded all of the values and parameters available from the AMS OPC Server, taken from all the platform HART devices including the wireless devices. After the selection of the pressure, temperature and the overall quality value, the team deleted the whole upload, but the selected values for the OPC links were now updated continuously to the operators, included the annular pressure measurements.
Initially, the staff engineers thought that two wireless gateways would be required, due to the density of the platform and production equipment. It turned out that only one gateway was required. All devices were able to communicate with the gateway. In fact, the device mounted furthest from the gateway still found a direct path! As more devices are added in the future, the strength the self-organizing network will be increased from additional wireless signal pathways.
The team took two days less than expected to complete the installation, and the oil and gas producer’s staff has performed similar installations on other platforms without help from Jeremy or the other wireless consultants.
The real benefit is that the annular pressured is monitored continuously by the operations staff rather than twice a day through manual readings. Pressure drop in the annulus might indicate a problem with the well. These continuous measurements provide operators an opportunity to take corrective action much earlier to help avoid well rework and lost production.