In an American Oil & Gas Reporter article, Production Optimization: ‘Systems’ Approach Optimizes Pad Production And Storage Operations, Emerson’s Michael Machuca describes the importance of taking a holistic approach to this effort.
An overall systems approach to continually monitoring, controlling and optimizing critical operations on well pad facilities can help operators minimize lost and/or unaccounted for production. Specific technical solutions associated with critical operations include tank vapor control, vapor recovery units (VRUs), inventory monitoring and management, manual tank gauging, custody transfer, and remote operations.
Taking a piecemeal approach to these processes and workflows:
…may not fully address operator needs for capital efficiency, standardization, reliability, or effective field support.
A systems approach begins with a focus on solving field asset challenges to improve overall reliability and production availability. Technologies play a role in the solution:
Improved sensing technologies make it easier and more cost effective to monitor and control critical parameters. At the same time, the expanded functionality of remote operations control platforms, scalability, and distributed architectures reduce the complexity associated with system integration. Packaged-application solutions consolidate monitoring and control data to enhance the optimization of process units and modular skid systems. Turnkey application software provides configurable software modules to support customization, standardization, and automation of critical operations.
Production management includes operations associated with:
- Inventory, allocation and custody transfer management;
- Inventory and fiscal transfer measurement;
- Vapor control; and
- Vapor recovery.
Production level uncertainty can come from many sources:
Manually gauging the accuracy of tank “in” and “out” volumes is highly dependent on operator competency and consistency in sometimes challenging weather conditions. Rounding off open- and end-level measurements to ensure contractually compliant haul volumes introduces unaccounted-for errors. Poor insight into actual oil shrinkage and oil losses in water storage tanks also contributes to overall production uncertainty.
This uncertainty can be reduced by:
Deploying tank management software and remote operation control technology…to manage and minimize production uncertainty. It allows automated integration of truck hauling operations and reporting, well production measurements, level-based gross volume inventory and custody transfer measurements.
From an inventory measurement perspective, top concerns include:
…ensuring containment, managing oil and water inventories, and measuring intertank and off-lease volume transfers.
Wireless technology can be applied:
…for continuous and point-level monitoring improves production management by enhancing operations in all three categories. Continuous insight into actual inventory levels helps avoid reactive operator events associated with high level alarms, well shut ins, or tank overfill situations.
Michael shares project economics associated with the combination of continuous well production flow measurement with level-based tank volume inventory, which:
…has allowed a number of operators to shift to comingled allocation versus dedicating a line of tanks to each producing well. The potential reduction in tanks varies from 20 to 55 percent, depending on the facility architecture. In one case, well-pad tankage was reduced from 24 to 19 units. Based on the installed cost of the tanks, piping, valves and monitoring equipment, this equated to a potential capital savings of $70,000 a pad.
Read the article for additional areas to apply systems-level thinking to vapor control and vapor recovery to further optimize operational costs. Michael concludes:
Integrating and automating critical operations associated with pad-production storage management while supporting the need for standardization and production optimization can be challenging. Advances in remote automation and sensing technology, combined with modular applications software, provide turnkey solutions to minimize the challenges in a cost-effective manner.
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