Unfortunately reservoirs do not connect to a bank account. For the hydrocarbons to be converted into dollars they will have to flow to the export facilities, through wells and a gathering network. This pipeline network invariable introduces pressure loss resulting in decreased production and therefore delayed revenue. Predicting when, where and why pressure losses occur is the key to ensuring these losses are minimised. This is the task of the flow assurance expert who contributes to both design and optimisation.
Steady state flow assurance is relatively straightforward even though the task may be complicated by the fact that through life of field both the composition of the fluids and the environment will change.
The pressure drops and their effects on flow can be modelled with a variety of existing commercial software packages. These tools are an invaluable aid in designing and improving the pipeline and completion network provided that the models are run on a representative sample of life of field conditions. Ingen personnel are well versed in using a variety of flow assurance packages for designing completions and infrastructure.
Dynamic flow assurance, which aims to predict the changes in very short timeframes, such as a cold start up, is much more complicated. Most companies do not have the in house capabilities to do this but it is still a requirement during the design stage to ensure that the operating conditions remain within the design parameters. Moreover significant production losses can be incurred by dynamic behaviour such as slugging or gas lift valve cycling which again require dynamic expertise to analyse. Ingen uses OLGA software, which is the leading dynamic simulation software in the industry, for its unsteady state simulations
The traditional perspective on Flow Assurance is that before embarking on the development of a pipeline development tied back to a host facility, knowledge is required
For smaller subsea accumulations of hydrocarbons, where there is insufficient reserves to justify fixed facilities, subsea tiebacks are the natural means of development. The size of
Whilst Ingen agree in principle with this perspective we believe that this goal must be pursued within the context of developing the appropriate integrated conceptual solution
In addition to determining what the production network looks like, flow assurance has a key role in determining the appropriate temperature management strategy for the system
The field life, future plans, risks and opportunities play an important role in the decision making process.