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New flow measurement technique for ‘heavy oil’ could save the industry ‘millions’

NEL's laboratory in East Kilbride
NEL's laboratory in East Kilbride

NEL, a company specialising in flow measurement research and development, has announced a new method to improve the accuracy of differential pressure meters for high viscosity oil. The company claims its new technique will help the oil and gas industry reduce financial risks on investments while addressing challenges around flow measurement.

With approximately 70% of the world’s remaining oil reserves classed as heavy oil, measuring flow accurately can prove a problem. 40% of the world’s flowmeters are differential pressure meters which according to NEL were not built for the demands of heavy oil applications. NEL estimates that the inaccurate measurements provided by differential pressure meters could be costing the oil and gas industry millions of dollars a year.

Craig Marshall, Flow Measurement Engineer at NEL, who has worked on the new technique as part of his engineering doctorate at Coventry University, said: “As the world produces ever more heavy oil, accurate measurement is critical in order to safely control the production processes and optimise recovery, as well as meet sales and pipeline agreement requirements. It is also essential to support taxation reporting and allocation measurement when operators share pipelines. This method has the potential to benefit multiple industrial sectors where viscous fluids are processed.”

NEL’s new solution still uses differential pressure technology, but according to the company it removes performance errors by providing a corrected coefficient in real-time. In addition, NEL’s new method also provides a measurement of the density and viscosity of the fluid, two key parameters for the calculation of mass or volume flow and pipeline entry criteria.

According to a statement from NEL: “This potentially removes the requirement and associated costs for sampling systems, inline densitometers and inline viscometers, providing a powerful all-in-one measurement solution.”

NEL's laboratory in East Kilbride