Data, data, data. At Emerson, we talk a lot about the importance of data and what it can do for you. As we continue our deeper dives into all the operational benefits of choosing a Roxar 2600 Multiphase Flow Meter over a test separator system in unconventional oil, “data insights” is a topic that comes up again and again. When you look at all the data available with this newer, advanced technology, it can be challenging to grasp all the ways it could improve your overall performance. In many ways, we’re all still exploring how these insights can help with optimization and troubleshooting. There are definite advantages to replacing traditional test separators with Roxar 2600 Multiphase Flow Meters, but there are also more subtle ways data can be applied in unconventional oil to maximize the benefits of this innovative technology.
What Can Real-Time Data Really Do for You?
It takes time for test separators to produce useable data. But what does that lost time actually cost you? If we take a look at artificial lift techniques, we can explore how instant performance results transform well optimization for the better.
One method of ensuring the most return out of a reservoir is to inject gas into a well in a process known as gas lift. The gas lightens the oil so that it becomes more accessible. The aim is to put in enough gas to lift the oil without pumping in so much that it causes problems with production. If you over-inject, not only does it cause production issues, you’re also wasting a limited resource. In this process, you’re shooting for a “Goldilocks” zone, not too much and not too little.
When you depend on a test separator, analysis of the multiple variables involved to validate your gas injection rate takes time. So, whenever gas injection is increased, it takes an entire day to find out if your efforts had any effect. It can be up to a week or more before you find the optimal injection rate. When you have an entire field of wells to optimize, spending a week on one well is incredibly wasteful (in time, money, and resources).
Another artificial lift method is the use of electrical submersible pumps (ESPs). If you have ESPs, your flow rates are typically remarkably steady. If your flow rates become erratic, it’s a sign that something is wrong with the pumps. This occurred recently during a well inspection. The Roxar 2600 MPFM data was showing unsteady flow rates. When the well was checked, the operator found the ESP wasn’t functioning at all.
In both of these cases, instant upstream data insight results in faster process improvements. Truly efficient gas lift optimization is only possible with real-time production data provided by an MPFM solution. In our ESP example, the MPFM data enabled rapid mitigation of a major production upset. Without the MPFM’s ability to show the behavior of the well as it was producing, identifying the problem would have taken much longer, extending the downtime of the ESP and affecting the oil production quota expected from the field.
Test separators hide production issues because they buffer flow rate changes, only measuring the phases (oil, water, gas) separately via single phase metering. Immediate flow changes are smoothed out and easily missed. With multiphase flow metering, there is no separation and flow changes can be detected immediately. This allows for quick diagnosis of any issues occurring at the well. Artificial lift methods are a great example of how this increased level of insight can assist in production optimization efforts overall.
We’d love to hear more about how you use data to optimize your operation’s performance. Please add your thoughts in the comments below or visit Emerson.com/RoxarShale to learn more.