In this article, Andreas Hessel Emerson Process Management looks at how the benefits of wireless technology have been extended to level monitoring in wellhead and separator installations, helping to speed installation, reduce maintenance costs and enhance safety for operators.
Automation managers are more than familiar with the implications of trying to simultaneously maximise oil and gas production from existing wells and deploy new wells as rapidly as possible. Their teams are understaffed, while the size of the field expands daily – generating even more work orders, and more field trips that take even longer to address. Meanwhile routine maintenance takes a back seat to newer, higher producing wells. This generates conflicting priorities in the field that are difficult to resolve.
To make matters worse, as new operators are recruited, the average skill level of field workers is diminishing, just when automation managers need to rely on them more. As a result, problems take longer to resolve and this can add up to lost production, increased delays and a greater potential for accidents and spills that can result in fines and poor public relations.
Poor automation, the lack of the right instrumentation in critical areas, inefficient maintenance practices and unreliable measurements can all lead to a shut-in, stopping production and diverting valuable time and manpower to restore the facility to operation. Unscheduled shut-ins are the bane of production and can lead to damaged wells, hazardous work environments and spills.
So how can these issues be addressed? Installing an integrated wellhead automation solution enables centralised management, reduces time spent on field trips to remote facilities, improves safety and environmental performance and increases production efficiency. These systems include remote intelligent operations that connect the field with the back office in real time, helping to reduce overheads, increase data reliability, and reduce the need for field personnel to collect measurements manually.
Wireless makes installation quick and easy
Automation installations at wellheads, flow lines, and separation areas have traditionally used wired solutions which involve significant commissioning time and lengthy installation of wiring, trenching, conduit runs and wiring trays. Now, the latest wireless technology, with its easy-to-install devices and easy-to-configure hardware and software, will improve data collection and management with a high level of accuracy and reliability. Wireless technology helps operators get to first oil sooner, and helps prevent serious incidents while lowering maintenance and diagnostic time. Well production is optimised without manual intervention.
Wireless technology eliminates the need for wire-related installation activities, In addition, factory-commissioning, remote configuration and diagnostics, and simple set-up procedures make commissioning of wireless devices faster and easier, even for those with less experience. In general, automation significantly reduces the number of trips into the field, but the now well-proven reliability of wireless technology such as WirelessHART ensures there are minimal trips to “fix” unreliable equipment.
Studies have shown that wireless technology provides a cost effective solution enabling savings of 30 per cent or more over the installed cost of a wired alternative. In addition, once a wireless network has been established at a site, additional wireless-enabled instrumentation can be installed quickly to provide continuous monitoring or used temporarily to identify particular issues.
The use of wireless technology at the wellhead is rapidly increasing, encouraged by the development of a broad range of wireless transmitters for flow, pressure, and temperature monitoring. However, many applications require accurate level data to be available from the wellhead and this has highlighted the need for reliable wireless-enabled level measurement devices.
Responding to this need, manufacturers such as Emerson have developed wireless-enabled vibrating fork point level sensors for high and low level alarms and wireless Guided Wave Radar (GWR) transmitters for continuous level monitoring. These devices have all the functionality and features of their wired equivalents - including advanced diagnostics, with the added benefits associated with wireless technology.
Edited by Katie Woodward
Read the article online at: https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/special-reports/28052014/emerson_wireless_level_technology_part_one/