For natural gas producers, meter runs are the cash registers that measure the volume of gas produced. Accurate and repeatable measurements are critical for business operations and compliance with regulatory bodies and international standards.
At the upcoming October 24-28 Emerson Exchange conference in the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas area, Emerson’s Karl White will be joined by a gas producer in the Western United States to share their success story on applying Rosemount measurement technology to improve their capital project and ongoing operational costs. I caught up with Karl to get a preview of what they’ll discuss in this podcast.
Listen to our discussion and visit the Rosemount 9175 Natural Gas Flow Meter page on Emerson.com for more on this fully AGA-compliant custody device in a complete, integrated package and available in a style that is accepted by the Bureau of Land Management here in the U.S.
Jim: Hi, everybody. I’m Jim Cahill and welcome to another “Emerson Automation Experts” podcast. Oil and gas producers are challenged with effectively measuring their production levels from each oil and gas well. One onshore gas producer was challenged to lower operational costs as they brought new wells online and assembled production metering runs for these new wells.
Today, I’m joined by Karl White to discuss how this gas producer overcame these challenges. And if you’re going to the October 24th through 28th Emerson Exchange Conference in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, you can hear this story firsthand from the customer and Karl. Welcome to the podcast, Karl.
Karl: Thanks, Jim. I’m happy to be here, my friend.
Jim: Well, it’s really great to have you with us sharing a bit of this story. So, let’s begin by asking you to share your background and path to your current role with us here at Emerson with our listeners.
Karl: Sure. I spent about 15 years as an automation tech, and then it occurred to me one day that maybe my future lay in sales. So, I’ve spent the last 22 years doing outside sales for automation equipment. I’ve been with Emerson now just a little over eight years, and I have really enjoyed this role. It’s been challenging and fun, and taking care of the customers is something that really gets me up and going in the mornings.
Jim: Well, that’s great. You get to hear firsthand the challenges and what are some of the solutions that we can have to help address some of those. So, thanks for that bit of background, Karl. So, today we’re going to discuss how this particular gas producer addressed these challenges. Can you give some more insights into the challenges they faced?
Karl: Sure. Like so many producers, you know, these guys were being tasked with doing more with less, less money, less people, and less time. Then when it came to the meter runs, managing multiple orders to multiple vendors just added to the complexity. And there were fewer staff to assemble meter runs. And then the support staff, that level was lower than had been previously. So they weren’t able to offload those tasks.
Jim: Wow. That sounds like trying to do more with fewer people will produce those kind of challenges. So, for the benefit of some of the folks maybe not in oil and gas production, can you explain what a meter run does and what the AGA 3 and other applicable standards are all about?
Karl: Yeah. So, a meter run is the cash register for the operation. This is where the sales measurement is made on the volume of gas. A meter run measures the pressure, differential pressure, and flow rate running through the meter. There’s a temperature measurement also made, and that is used to help calculate a standard volume metric flow.
All this information is then sent back to an RTU, which is a remote terminal unit or a PLC to do the calculations from the raw data that we send to it from the meter run. AGA is the American Gas Association, and they publish standards for the industry. And that goes to serve purpose of ensuring consistency in physical custody measurement, among other things. Bureau of Land Management, BLM, and state local standards can also apply to measurement calculation standards.
Jim: So, these measurements are critical because ultimately, it’s how the producer gets paid. So that is pretty critical. What are some challenges with traditional meter run approaches?
Karl: Well, so a meter run is the physical thing is composed of multiple parts and pieces, components, such as there’s a length of steel tubing, two, three, four-inch diameter typically. There’s flanges on the ends of that pipe for fastening it into the overall pipeline. There’s flow conditioners, test ports, and typically a multi-variable transmitter. And then there’s piping and tubing connect the meter run to the transmitter. There’s an orifice plate inside the pipe to develop a differential pressure where we can calculate the flow rate from. All together, there’s a lot of parts and pieces. So, all this stuff needs to be obtained, either welded together or bolted together, and then pressure leak tested. And this all takes time and considerable degree of talent.
So, the tube needs to meet AGA and other specifications for straightness, the interior polish, consistent diameter, and a circular profile during the entire length of the tube. Pressure and leak testing is also critical to prevent faulty equipment from being installed.
Jim: Well, that sounds like a lot of components, a lot of things, a lot of work to get it all just the way it needs to be to meet the stringent requirements for metering. You shared with me an alternative approach using a Rosemount 9175 AGA 3 compliant meter run. Can you share more about this approach with our listeners?
Karl: The 9175 arrives as a complete solution. It’s fully assembled, configured, inspected, and pressure-tested. That reduces your on-site installation time and the costs associated with installation. It comes fitted with a Rosemount 4088 MultiVariable. This multivariable can communicate with Fisher ROC [Remote Operations Controller] or you can switch it in the field to communicate Modbus to other brands of RTUs or PLCs.
So, these multivariable capabilities allow you to calculate fully compensated mass and energy [volumetric] flow from the measurements that we do. This includes the integral Rosemount temperature measurement equipment. You can achieve compliance with the latest AGA 3 standards and with the latest BLM standards. We constantly monitor those things and incorporate that into the design as we move forward.
Jim: Well, that sounds like a simpler approach with those couple of meters and the multivariable providing what’s needed for the compensated mass and energy [volumetric] flow. So, I guess using this alternative approach, what are some of the benefits this gas producer realize?
Karl: Well, so because we use a Simplex Single-Chamber Orifice Fitting, that allows them to reduce the downtime during orifice plate replacements and inspections, which is a requirement of the various standards that we adhere to. There are several brands of fitting bodies available to match whatever the customer desires. Like I’ve mentioned, it’s available in a configuration that’s accepted by the Bureau of Land Management.
We offer it in 2, 3, and 4-inch line sizes with raised face flanges in the 150, 300, and 600 class. The flow conditioners that I mentioned earlier, we can supply those either pinned or flange style depending on the customer’s preference. And then if you use our enhanced for flow option on the 4088, that actually allows you to keep the same orifice plate in place for a longer amount of time from initial production through to eventually plunger lift, which a lot of operators use to enhance their recovery of gas from the well.
That enhanced for flow option gives you a measurement that is a percent of reading accuracy rather than a percent of span. So, that makes it very tight in that spec of accuracy. And it gives you a 14 to 1 turndown on your flow rate, which is fairly substantial. And then with that option, you also get a 15-year stability and a 15-year warranty on defects. If it fails to calibrate, just return it. And if it’s an issue with the transmitter, we’ll replace it.
Jim: Well, that sounds like you can really over the life of the producing well with that 14 to 1 turndown, so that can cover quite a bit of difference in production rates there. So, that seems like good from a life cycle standpoint. So that’s great. So, what about the economics of this particular customer’s project?
Karl: So, the customer wanted to really track the costs on this, and after they brought all their numbers together and everything, they came back to me and told me that they had achieved a nearly 11% overall cost reduction on their meter runs from buying the components and assembling themselves and everything. Plus they didn’t have testing facilities. So, it was kind of luck of the draw on that.
By using the enhanced for flow option, like I said before, it allows them to keep the same orifice plate in place for longer. That reduces their costs. And then they told me that they’re very confident in placing an order with us knowing that there’s a warranty on the entire assembly. And it turns out that our meter run is a drop-in replacement for practically any of their existing meter runs. They might have to add a small spool piece here and there, but that allowed them to reduce their spares and stuff that they kept in inventory for maintenance and repair on meter runs.
And another key point, they didn’t actually calculate out the clerical costs associated with placing 9 or 10 orders with 9 or 10 different vendors and the time that it took to manage those orders, coordinate deliveries to match their production schedule and that sort of thing. So, there were some significant savings there, but they weren’t able to capture that in a dollar amount.
Jim: Well, that sounds like some really positive economics from the documented 11% savings and not to mention some of the intangible ones, you know, the warranty, just all the clerical time and purchasing and everything else in there. So, it sounds like it was a really great project for them.
Well, I invite our listeners to check out. We have a Rosemount 9175 Natural Gas Flow Meter page on Emerson.com, and I’ll add a link to it in the transcript. You can also use the Contact Us section to help you find the sales office in your area to help you with your particular projects and specifications.
And finally, I know Karl you’re out there on LinkedIn and don’t mind people reaching out and connecting with him with all Karl’s experience. So, we invite you to look him up in LinkedIn and connect with him. So, Karl, thank you so much for sharing this success story and an alternative solution for gas production meter runs with our listeners.
Karl: Well, it’s been my pleasure, Jim. And it’s always good to visit with you.
Jim: Well, likewise. And Karl and I hope to see everyone at the October 24th through 28th Emerson Exchange Conference for more on this particular success story and many, many other best practices that are being shared by other customers, Emerson experts, and all kinds of things going on there. So, we hope to see you there.
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