With the Allocation Meter, Total has come up with an alternative to standard production allocation methods. The innovative concept is based on organic geochemistry. Although its potential has been recognized for over 20 years, organic geochemistry had never been applied at production sites until now. The payoff: continuous, direct measurement of production by reservoir level and well.
Production allocation is vital for monitoring producing fields. It helps optimize their development by focusing on well performance and reserves management. It also helps operators answer certain production-related questions for tax purposes. This is especially true when:
- Wells are producing commingled flows from different reservoirs.
- Wells producing from different clusters are connected to common flow lines.
- Production from several fields is routed through shared installations.
Standard allocation methods are based on production logging tools (PLT). Organic geochemistry, used for 20 years in the laboratory, offers enormous potential to improve safety conditions, prevent production shut-ins, trim allocation costs and measure production continuously in real time. However, problems involving sample forwarding and the time between collection and final analysis hindered development for many years.
So the challenge Total's teams faced was to devise an easy-to-transport tool compliant with production site HSE regulations, based on robust technology, with limited human intervention from sampling through analyses, and a small physical footprint.
Allocation Meter: An Innovative Concept
Our prototype perfectly illustrates our ability to innovate and create value. It consists of two modules:
- A sampler, which can be connected either to a wellhead or any sampling point at the production site. It separates the liquid hydrocarbons from the water and gas using an innovative device called a double Cartesian diver. The fluids are identified by their density, then the liquid hydrocarbons are transferred to an analyzer. The sampler complies with European Union ATEX (EXplosive ATmosphere) regulations.
- An analyzer, which uses gel permeation chromatography coupled with an ultraviolet detector (GPC-UV) to analyze the liquid hydrocarbons. The differences in chemical composition between the samples analyzed are used to allocate production. The principal innovation is the size of the equipment housing the components. The analyzer complies with ATEX zone 2 regulations.
A Promising Innovation
Developed in the last several years with very positive results, the Allocation Meter will be optimized going forward:
- An initial prototype was successfully field-tested on the AKE platform on the ABK field in the United Arab Emirates in 2015.
- The analyzer was upgraded in 2016. Two production allocation studies in the U.A.E. and Qatar were conducted on samples previously collected from 28 and 25 wells respectively.
- Several Total affiliates — among them Total E&P Angola, Total Austral and Total E&P Norge — also conducted tests.
- Future developments will look to miniaturize and automate the meter for remote, automated operations.
However, the Allocation Meter already cuts production allocation costs by a factor of five in offshore environments and of 50 in the deep offshore. It also eliminates production losses and the well intervention risks associated with standard methods.
The new meter technology also offers opportunities to improve safety, since it sharply reduces human exposure during sampling and analysis.
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