The prolific Permian Basin has been a part of many conversations this week at CERAWeek 2019. In a panel session, North American Gas Infrastructure: Keeping pace with gas production, Emerson’s David Tredinnick shared his perspectives on the current pipeline constraints and role of technology in moving natural gas through the supply chain.
One of the panelists noted that the infrastructure for natural gas is far behind production rates and should be thought of as its own area, much like Mozambique in needing infrastructure such as LNG to get the gas out to markets.
Dave noted that one innovation in technology that’s helping drive down capital costs for Permian Basin producers is multiphase flow measurements right out at the wellheads. This technology was originally designed for higher production offshore wells but has been scaled to meet the needs for onshore producers to avoid the costs associated with test separators and associated piping. The information is also more readily available to make decisions on the production of the wells.
He explained that Emerson has long been in Texas with 13 facilities in Houston area, one in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and another major R&D center for control systems and software in Austin. A new Permian Basin Service Center was opened to provide automation technology, expertise and training for local producers. Given that well pads don’t have mailing addresses, the Center includes smart lockers to provide on demand parts to meet the needs to get production online.
Through its Emerson Impact Partner, Vinson Process Controls, Emerson has a long history in the Permian Basin and now the Permian Basin Service Center brings the full range of technologies and expertise into a common area to support the oil & gas producers in the region.
In how Emerson helps the midstream segments, Dave explained that getting involved in pre-FEED phases can help optimize the design. For example, pipelines developed with corrosion monitoring designed in from the start along with pipeline integrity software can operate much more reliably and provide predictive information to reduce maintenance costs over their lifetimes.
What sets the Permian Basin apart from other gas producing regions is its proximity to the gulf cost infrastructure and export facilities. The business climate is also friendlier for producers in Texas then many other regions. One panelist noted that although there is quite a bit of infrastructure there is far less than what will be required as the Permian Basin production levels continue to grow. Storage facilities for gas will need to grow significantly as well.
From a pipeline construction standpoint, permitting issues are simpler for intrastate pipelines in Texas than from interstate pipelines that cross the Texas border. Lessons are learned from every pipeline that’s built to improve the capital performance on the next one.
Other infrastructure consideration are the export ports out of Texas and Louisiana to reach global markets and the Panama Canal, Suez Canal and other paths to Asian markets. It may make sense to add pipelines and LNG plants to the West coast of Mexico.
Combining multiphase flow meter simulation feeding the subsurface reservoir models can update the models to provide the producers a better picture of what needs to be done to the well to maximize production over time and make better decisions when rework is required.