Application Note

Automating Wellpad Operations In The Oil And Gas Industry

Source: ABB Measurement & Analytics

The advent of horizontal drilling and fracture techniques now permit the possibility of smaller environmental foot-prints for oil and natural gas production. Rather than spread many wells over a wide landscape, multiple well heads are being consolidated in a confined area. In this way, the many facets necessary for the production life-cycle–wellheads, separation equipment and tank storage along with production monitoring instruments and controls– are located in a geographically isolated area, reducing the physical and ecological footprint.

Typically, in newly drilled wells, the oil, water, and gas flow freely to the surface through the well’s Casing pipe with little or no wellbore augmentation required. When the flow of gas and liquids drops to a point knows as the Critical Flow Rate, it is common to install a second pipe in the well know as the production Tubing, which is a concentric pipe within the Casing. The narrower production tube increases the flow velocity above a critical level necessary to maintain a free flowing well. With time, however, the natural pressure within the well reservoir begins to fall. Production declines, following the well-known downward curve. Backpressure resulting from the buildup of oil and water liquids in the Tubing slows production and can eventually bring flow to a halt.