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Flow measurement R&D specialist TÜV SÜD NEL opens new facility

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TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory (TÜV SÜD NEL) has officially launched a £16 million (€18.2 million) Advanced Multiphase Facility (AMF) to help oil and gas operators ensure production remains economically viable.

Located in Scotland, UK, the AMF offers a test range of operating pressures, temperatures, flow rates and metrology that surpasses that of any other laboratory in the world. Operating at pressures up to 140 bar, the AMF doubles previous test facility capabilities to meet current and future measurement challenges.

It offers a working envelope at least 20 times greater than any other multiphase or wet gas facility, and has the highest flow rate in the world, for both gas and liquid, within a single multiphase facility.

The facility contains a full production scale separator with an operating weight of 270 tonnes, offers a subsea choke, and is capable of testing the complete range of flowmeters. A range of sensors, including 2D, three-phase and X-ray tomography, deliver high definition images of complex flows, helping the industry to understand fluid behaviours and their impact on measurement.

Construction on the facility began in September 2017, and was officially opened in October 2019 by Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance at the Scottish Government. The AMF will focus on the global subsea sector and wet gas business, creating 17 jobs and futureproofing the delivery of technical services to the oil and gas production market for the next 25 years.

At the opening, Mackay said: “TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory’s £16m investment into this facility is great news for Scotland. The Scottish Government is working hard to establish stronger trading links between Scotland and Germany and this news is testament to Scotland’s ability to attract inward investment in spite of the continuing uncertainty around Brexit.”

“The AMF’s world-leading research facilities will support the global oil and gas industry with both current and future measurement challenges, from well optimisation to fiscal accounting,” added Dr Brian Millington, managing director of TUV SUD NEL. “While significant production opportunities exist in extreme environments, higher operating pressures and temperatures can impact the performance of multiphase flow measurement devices. The AMF will increase the viability of well exploitation by helping operators to more accurately measure multiphase flow and better understand the performance of production operations in these challenging but potentially profitable environments.”

Scottish Enterprise has supported the development of the facility with £4.9 million (€5.5 million) in R&D funding. In addition to the grant from Scottish Enterprise, TÜV SÜD NEL’s parent company TÜV SÜD invested £11.1 million (€12.6 million).

Professor Axel Stepken, chairman of board of TÜV SÜD, added: “Measurement of multiphase flows is a key factor in understanding the performance of production operations and production optimisation. Together, we have created the conditions necessary for ensuring that Scotland, and with it the TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory, will continue to set the pace of progress in flow measurement in the future.”

David Smith, director of national opportunities for Scottish Enterprise, concluded: “It’s fantastic to see the centre open and ready for business. Our £4.9m R&D grant was the catalyst for TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory to secure over £11m of funding from its German parent company. Doing this means we can anchor the skills and expertise in the East Kilbride facility for the long term and create more economic opportunity for the families and communities in the area.”