Multiphase Flow Metering: Current Trends and Future Developments
- G. Falcone (Enterprise Oil) | G.F. Hewitt (Imperial College) | C. Alimonti (U. of Rome La Sapienza) | B. Harrison (Enterprise Oil)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 2002
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 77 - 84
- 2002. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 2.3 Well Monitoring Systems, 4.3.3 Aspaltenes, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.3 Flow Assurance, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 5.1.5 Geologic Modeling, 3 Production and Well Operations, 7.6.6 Artificial Intelligence, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.4.3 Mutiphase Measurement, 3.1.2 Electric Submersible Pumps, 7.5.3 Professional Registration/Cetification
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Distinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptiverepresentations that summarize the state of the art in an area of technology bydescribing recent developments for readers who are not specialists in thetopics discussed. Written by individuals recognized as experts in the area,these articles provide key references to more definitive work and presentspecific details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to informthe general readership of recent advances in various areas of petroleumengineering.
Over the last decade, the development, evaluation, and use ofmultiphase-flow-metering (MFM) systems have been a major focus for the oil andgas industry worldwide. Many alternative metering systems have been developed,but none can be referred to as generally applicable or universally accurate.Both established and novel technologies suitable to measure the flow rates ofgas, oil, and water in three-phase flow are reviewed and assessed within thisframework. Technologies already implemented in various commercial meters thenare evaluated in terms of operational and economical advantages or shortcomingsfrom an operator's point of view. The lessons learned about the practicalreliability, accuracy, and use of available technology are discussed. Asoperators now realize, use of MFM systems (MFMSs) is essential in exploitingmarginal fields. A new approach to flow assurance, deepwater developments,downhole/seabed separation systems, and wet-gas fields is foreseen. The authorssuggest where additional research to develop the next generation MFM deviceswill be focused to meet the as yet unsolved problems.
The first commercial MFMSs appeared approximately 10 years ago, as a resultof several multiphase metering research projects in the early 1980s. Thedriving force to develop MFM technology was the forecast decline of productionfrom the major North Sea fields, accompanied by the necessity to tie backfuture smaller discoveries to existing infrastructure. Increasing gas and waterfractions, inherent in a mature producing province, would create more-unstableflow conditions in existing production facilities and require more-flexiblemultiphase solutions.
In less than a decade, MFM has become accepted in the field and is beginningto be considered as a primary metering solution for new field developments.
Within the oil and gas industry, it is generally recognized that MFM couldlead to great benefits in terms of the following.1,2,3
Layout of Production Facilities.
The use of MFMs reduces the hardware needed for onshore, offshore topside,and offshore subsea applications. Of primary importance is the removal of adedicated test separator for well-testing applications. Use of MFM (with itssmaller footprint) for topside applications minimizes platform space and loadrequirements for well-testing operations. Finally, costly well-testing linescan be stripped from the production facilities, which may be of vitalimportance for unmanned locations, deepwater developments, and satellitefields.
Conventional test separators are expensive and require much time to monitoreach well's performance because of the time required to reach stabilized flowconditions. It is particularly important in deepwater developments, because ofthe exceptional length of the flowlines. In such cases, production fromindividual wells connected to the same manifold may be monitored by use of adedicated test line to avoid shutting down all the wells, then testing them oneby one (with considerable production loss). However, the expense of a separateflowline may be prohibitive, hence the advantages of MFM installed in thesubsea manifold. Test separators have an accuracy between approximately 5 and10% (currently achievable with MFMSs) but require regular intervention bytrained personnel and cannot provide continuous well monitoring. Anotherdisadvantage of conventional well testing with conventional separators is thatwell performance suffers after shutdown cycles related to well testing. Often,wells tested on a regular basis require more-frequent workovers to maintaintheir production rates.
Use of MFMSs for exploration-well testing4 provides satisfactoryflow measurements without separation of the phases. It is claimed that they canbe used to monitor the well during its cleanup flow (traditionally, this flowinformation is lost because the well stream is not directed through the testseparator). Added value is represented by improved control of the drawdownapplied to the formation, the pressure transient, and shortened flowperiods.
MFMSs provide real-time, continuous data to enable operators to characterizefield and reservoir performance better and react faster. Changes in gas/oilratio or water cut can be detected and quantified immediately, whereastraditional test separators provide information about only cumulative volumesat discrete points in time.
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