Sand constitutes a very difficult challenge for oil and gas producers, onshore and offshore, in terms of its effect on machinery and infrastructure. Fiona Butters from Emerson Process Management and Richard Munro of Stork explain how using wireless transmitters and sensor technology can help identify the dangers posed by sand.
Sand erosion is one of the most significant threats to oil and gas production. Sand can clog production equipment, erode completion components and interfere with infrastructure, which has a highly negative effect on production rates from a field.
Ageing assets in particular can suffer due to rising water production, more sand and increasing amounts of gas, leading to higher velocities and a greater risk of erosion damage from sand particles. With the need to make smaller fields more economically viable, predictive sand monitoring tools are crucial to ensure maximum production returns.
It is against this backdrop that the monitoring of erosion on essential lines is vital, as it contributes to the failure of equipment and loss of containment, as well as posing a risk to personnel and the environment. Operators need access to a complete production system, delivering intelligent, real-time information and operating alongside existing instrumentation.
Emerson recently introduced the Roxar CorrLog and SandLog Wireless transmitters in response to this industry challenge. The transmitters can be directly integrated within WirelessHart networks, a wireless-sensor networking technology, to provide a complete asset-integrity management system for operators. This is an example of how Emerson's automation, digital and smart wireless technologies can be combined with its Roxar corrosion and sand monitoring instrumentation to protect operators' upstream and downstream assets.
The operating principles of the new probe are based on an electrical-resistance corrosion-probe technique that relies on the erosive effects of sand particles on thin, non-corrosive elements mounted on a probe inserted into the pipe. When combining measured sand/erosion rates with flow rates and assumed sand particle size, sand production can be quantified.
The transmitters are wireless, resulting in a significant reduction in installation costs compared with wired online systems and also allowing continuous online monitoring in previously inaccessible areas. Additionally, the transmitters are highly accurate and reliable, and come with a low risk of signal loss in high-risk applications, with the sensitive sensors generating improved information for asset protection.
Stork, a global provider of maintenance, modification and asset-integrity services to the oil and gas, chemical, power and mining sectors, recently installed this Emerson sand erosion monitoring solution on a major North Sea operator's platform. The wireless devices will provide flexible, cost-effective and highly accurate online monitoring of sand erosion from the field, helping to extend equipment life and increase production from reserves.
The collaboration between Emerson and Stork also marks the first installation of the Roxar SandLog Wireless monitors in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), and combines Stork's broad monitoring solutions service offering, in-depth knowledge and track record alongside Emerson's sand erosion monitoring system.
With more than 30 years' experience and based in Aberdeen, UK, Stork's monitoring solutions department is ideally positioned to deliver a range of traditional and advanced techniques for monitoring the rate of corrosion, erosion, stress, temperature, strain or intrusion on pipelines on and offshore.
Now in its 20th lost-time-incident-free year, the team provides operators with the means to monitor the rate of erosion on their assets, identifying and continuously reporting on areas of concern, and enabling the planning of effective remedial action.
As operators look to deliver on the bottom line, incorporating greater intelligence and integration into production and sand monitoring systems is becoming even more pressing. With highly sensitive and accurate sensors, direct integration with a wireless network, and through the close collaboration between Stork and Emerson, it's encouraging to see sand erosion monitoring delivering greater insight and control over production operations.