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NEL tackles heavy oil

Written by  OE Staff Tuesday, 17 November 2015 02:58

NEL, the UK-based flow measurement research and development specialist, has launched a joint industry project (JIP) to meet an urgent industry requirement to address the challenges of accurately measuring highly viscous, multiphase flows. 

Until now, there have been no flow test facilities capable of reproducing heavy oil multiphase flows for the purpose of evaluating flow meters and other critical production equipment, according to NEL.

A successful heavy oil pilot project carried out in NEL’s multiphase flow test facility has delivered the world’s first capability for undertaking this type of complex testing. Consequently, very few flow meters have been evaluated to assess their suitability and accuracy for heavy multiphase flows. The new JIP will address this critical 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.”

Some 70% of the world’s remaining oil reserves are classified as "heavy." 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 UK 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. The Kraken field alone has the potential to release an estimated 137 MMbbl/d. Even at today’s low oil prices this one field is worth US$6.85 billion pounds (based on $50 per barrel),” concluded Hunter.

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