Flow and pressure monitoring are an essential part of an oil and gas company’s operations. These measurements can provide long term insight to equipment health and productivity, as well as inform reservoir management decisions and predictive maintenance plans.
Traditionally, flow and pressure have been read manually from pressure gauges and flow meters, however, new technology now allows for remote monitoring and provides the ability to collect a significant amount of data regarding past and present pressure and flow conditions. The use of remote pressure and flow monitors can reduce equipment failure and enhance equipment performance in oil and gas operations.
Applications for Pressure and Flow Monitoring
Compressor systems are a cornerstone in oil and natural gas operations. When a compressor is having pressure issues, this can indicate that it is time for maintenance to occur. For example, difficulty building up pressure can indicate a problem with the valves. Timely response to these conditions can prevent unexpected shutdowns or other forms of compressor part failures.
Flow and pressure monitoring in oil and gas pipelines can signal early warning signs for leaks. The faster you identify the presence of a leak, the sooner it can be taken care of, reducing the risk of damage to the surrounding equipment and environment. Flow sensors and pressure sensors will measure the flow rate, sudden pressure drops or pressure loss can help indicate a leak, allowing you to fix it faster.
Additionally, oil extracted from reservoirs can contain acidic gasses that can have corrosive effects on pipe networks. While this is a more complex calculation, research has shown that corrosion rate can actually be calculated using pipe diameter, flow rate, flow temperature, and pressure. Being able to predict the rate of corrosion can help to plan ahead for maintenance action to be taken.
3. Storage Tanks
Changes in liquid flow and temperature can alter the pressure in oilfield storage tanks. Consistent tank monitoring can help operators manage tank pressure conditions, preventing tank infrastructure failure. Storage tank failures can result in significant product loss and create a hazardous environment for on-site workers. Flow monitoring, especially when paired with tank level monitoring, can also prevent spills and damages to surrounding equipment.
4. Oil Well Drilling Processes
When paired with automated or remote pump controls, deploying flow and pressure monitors in various aspects (for example, downhole sensors) can help reduce wear and tear of equipment by starting/stopping operations only when there is product to draw out.
In addition, maintaining ideal pressure and consistent flow conditions throughout the drilling process can increase the longevity of equipment, and help them stay on track with their expected operating life-cycle, often estimated by the parts manufacturer.
How to Reduce Equipment Failure using Pressure and Flow Monitoring
With access to current and historical flow and pressure data, no matter the application, a baseline for prime operating conditions can be determined. By monitoring flow and pressure continuously, deviations from these optimal conditions can be identified rapidly, and timely maintenance can occur. Additionally, by analyzing trends in data, the expected time-frame of maintenance needs can be used to plan ahead for the future, and in the long run, prevent ultimate equipment failure and reduce system down-time.
Reduce Wear and Tear
Particularly in oil pumping systems, running pumps when there is low productivity can result in unnecessary wear and tear. With real-time flow and pressure monitoring (and ideally, paired with automated control systems), pump systems can be run when there is product to be drawn out instead of being turned off/on following a time-clock.
Having access to real-time flow and pressure conditions can facilitate a faster response to critical conditions. Being able to shut systems down quickly when an issue arises prevents further equipment failure and reduces the likelihood of downstream effects on other equipment.