Improving Capital Efficiency in Well Pad Automation

by | Dec 12, 2014 | Industry, Oil & Gas

A colleague pointed me to an article with an in depth analysis on the reasons behind the drop in oil price over the past several months. This economic climate makes oil & gas production project and operational efficiency even more important.

Michael Machuca Upstream O&G Industry Marketing Manager

Michael Machuca
Upstream O&G Industry Marketing Manager

At last summer’s Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC), Emerson’s Michael Machuca presented a paper, Well Pad Automation Improves Capital Efficiency and Reduces Fiscal Risk. His abstract:

Well-Pad-AutomationOil and gas operators in shale production face many challenges in developing well pad facilities. The rapid development and deployment of assets, accelerated production decline, and an evolving regulatory environment leave little margin for error and require effectively leveraging technology to achieve economically viable production and yield.

This paper examines best practices for implementing an automation strategy for well pad facilities in order to access insight into key variables that impact the health of the reservoir and optimize the custody transfer of oil and gas off the well pad. Field-proven solutions will be examined on how to fully utilize available measurement and control technologies to get beyond a “it works and is good enough” approach to effectively manage facilities. By utilizing innovative technology in a more systematic and cost-effective approach, operators can improve oil and gas process unit operations and reliability.

Michael described a tiered automation strategy that many oil & gas operators are implementing:

  1. Surveillance – obtaining real-time data to improve day to day asset management
  2. Analysis – adding automatic data validation and analysis to migrate data to actionable information in real-time
  3. Optimization – implementing intervention in real-time with automatic event detection and handling
  4. Transformation – transforming operations with innovative business solutions

For shale production, in order to maximize economic viability, this automation strategy helps with the business goals for faster and lower cost first production, reduced operating, maintenance & compliance costs, sustained optimal production and maximized yield and ensure health, safety and environmental performance.

He gave some application examples where real-time surveillance can improve day-to-day management and where preconfigured software and hardware helps to increase standardization and faster first oil:

  • Wellhead integrity monitoring (casing, tubing pressure, temperature)
  • Chemical injection monitoring
  • Sand / corrosion monitoring
  • Separator / Heater Treater production data gathering
  • Tank volumes
  • Fiscal measurement / LACT

Michael shared some examples of well pad automation best practices in the areas of wireless surveillance, sand monitoring, heater treater data analysis, fiscal measurement assurance data analysis, real-time separator optimization, and gas lift management.

I’ll highlight one of the examples around the heater treater. He noted that many shale fields rely on the heater treater measurements for allocation accounting. Sometimes the heater treater downcomer level has control performance issues resulting in gas exiting the downcomer and over registration of volumes measured due to this gas. If the flow is measured with Micro Motion Coriolis meters, the diagnostics can recognize an issue.

A spike in oil production, combined with a drop in density and increase in drive gain indicates that gas is escaping with the oil during the dump cycle. One oil and gas operator estimated they could recover an additional $72,000/day in lost gas revenue on their field of 1200 wells by using flow data dump cycle analysis to minimize lost gas to flare.

You’ll want to read the paper for more on one or more of these examples to see how technology and expertise come together in an integrated automation strategy to improve capital efficiency and reduce risk.

For more, visit the Produced Fluids Management section of the Emerson website. You can also connect and interact with other oil & gas experts in the Oil & Gas group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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