Coriolis Meters Eliminate NGL Meter Failure Headaches and Reduce Maintenance

by | Apr 19, 2016 | Flow, Measurement Instrumentation

Marc Buttler

Application Innovation Director for Measurement Solutions

When moving and storing natural gas liquids (NGLs), every step in the chain from initial production wells and processing plants to the final fraction matters to the bottom line. But for many companies, too-frequent meter failure and constant need to pull and maintain meters leads to lengthy delays and costly interruptions in material flows.

So the consequences of one company’s decision to install Micro Motion Coriolis custody transfer skids as replacements for their problematic metering system had a big impact. As the provider of gathering, pipeline transportation, and cavern storage for a number of processing plants and NGL-based products made by those plants, a lot depended on their ability to deliver.

The Challenge

For this midstream company, a combination of turbine and positive displacement meters was used to manage the transfer and inventory of hydrocarbon liquids. But it was an inefficient process. Dirty fluids and low-lubricity characteristics of the NGLs were causing meter failure and issues left and right. Additional problems with maintaining accurate and reliable slip-streamed density measurements that were needed to convert volume measurements to mass confirmed the need for a change in procedure.

Additional pressure to meet governmental regulations required this facility to prove all flow meters on a regular basis to demonstrate compliance with industry standards, regulations and contractual obligations. The answer had to be a system that provided transparency with low measurement uncertainty.

The Solution

Over a two year period, the company installed 16 new Micro Motion custody transfer skids to replace their old metering systems. Problems associated with meter failures were immediately eliminated, as Coriolis meters operate smoothly without any mechanical parts that would wear out or break down. Consequently, they achieved a higher level of sustained measurement confidence, which was followed by a reduction of settlements with downstream processing facilities.

In proving comparisons between a turbine and a Micro Motion Coriolis meter, the Coriolis meter improved the meter factor to 0.998, from the turbine meter average of around 0.95, and with the added benefit of eliminating the frequent interruptions needed for the cleaning and maintenance of the turbine meter.

Measuring with Coriolis meters provided a full stream density and mass measurement as an alternative to the slip-stream systems that were constantly getting plugged. This eliminated the cost of the complex installations for the slip-stream systems. Without meter failures, without the constant need to pull and clean meters, and with less time wasted in maintaining the slip-stream systems, annual maintenance costs were greatly reduced.

Adjustment to the new process of proving Coriolis meters took some time, but in the end it was a completely successful transition. Because the Coriolis meters provided flow measurements in either mass or volume; the end user ultimately had greater flexibility for the proving method once the transition was complete.

Overall, the gain/loss ratio for the distribution and inventory system was reduced to 0.2%, down from 0.5%. That translated into $547,500 annual improvement for a 30,000 bpd pipeline.

One company’s success story, combined with the dozens of other plants successfully saving time and money with Coriolis meters, could be just what your business needs to lead you to a better way. Stop struggling with inefficient, high-maintenance systems and consider the streamlined benefits of installing Micro Motion Coriolis flow meters.

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