NEL forms JIP to address heavy oil challenges

Offshore staff

GLASGOW, UK NEL has launched a joint industry project (JIP) to address the challenges of accurately measuring highly viscous, multi-phase flows.

Until now, there have been no flow test facilities capable of reproducing heavy oil multi-phase flows for the purpose of evaluating flow meters and other critical production equipment. A successful heavy oil pilot project carried out in NEL’s multi-phase flow test facility has delivered the world’s first capability for undertaking this type of complex testing.

Consequently, few flow meters have been evaluated to assess their suitability and accuracy for heavy multi-phase flows. The new JIP will address the need for more accurate metering technologies to support heavy-oil extraction.

Lynn Hunter, group manager at NEL, said: “Accurate measurement of these complex flows is critical in order to safely control the production processes, optimize recovery, and avoid the onset of flow assurance issues, which can have a detrimental effect on plant and equipment. Furthermore, accurate measurement is essential to support government fiscal taxation reporting and allow allocation measurement when operators share pipelines.”

In order to better understand the science, and provide oil and gas operators with confidence going forward, NEL is inviting industry to join the JIP, which will evaluate metering technologies and support the implementation of practical, cost-effective solutions.

“This is very much a global issue and one which affects the UK, especially given that the government has recently sanctioned the development of heavy-oil fields, including Mariner, Bentley and Kraken, with the latter due to start production as early as 2016/17,” said Hunter. “The Kraken field alone has the potential to release an estimated 137 MMbbl (50,000 b/d). Even at today’s low oil prices this one field is worth 6.85 billion pounds [$10.4 billion] (based on $50/bbl).”


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