Plains Exploration & Production Company anticipates significant benefits from wireless installation.
In the San Joaquin Valley located in the heart of central California where the nutrient-rich soil supplies an estimated 12% of the nation’s agricultural products, also happens to be the largest petroleum producing region in the state. These vastly different industries converge in the South Belridge Field just outside of Bakersfield, where the sight of cattle grazing between wells can be seen. It is here that Plains Exploration & Production (PXP) Company transformed its steam injection metering and data acquisition systems into a highly sophisticated, automated process comprised of a large network of WirelessHART transmitters and industrial broadband radios.
PXP’s Hopkins Lease, located in the South Belridge Field, consists of over 200 wells distributed over approximately one square mile. As an enhanced oil recovery project, continuous steam injectors play a critical role in the amount of oil produced by a given well. Placed adjacent to each producing well, steam is injected into the surrounding reservoir to help mobilise the oil toward the well.
Originally, each injector was fitted with a chart recorder, which metered and recorded steam. To track these readings, operators were required to visit each of the approximate 120 injection wells every day to visually interpret the chart recorders’ graphical readings, log them on a clipboard, manually convert this measure to a flow rate, key it into a spreadsheet, and send to the office in Bakersfield where a data entry clerk keyed the figures into a database.
This steam metering method was very manpower intensive. The chart recorders themselves required recalibration every three months, and it was difficult to accurately interpret their readings. Secondly, concerns existed about data integrity from potential recording errors during the several handoffs and manual entry steps required. Lastly, the process consumed much of the operators’ time and provided only one data point per day, so should a problem arise at a well, PXP suffered response lag times in dealing with the issues.
The Project Facilities Engineer at PXP saw these inefficiencies as another opportunity to improve processes for PXP. After equipment investigation, analysis and discussion with operations, he was able to implement a new wireless metering and monitoring system, employing the latest technologies to deliver a real-time system, resulting in substantial benefits to PXP. The opportunity to implement a wireless solution made deployment quick and economical. Without these technologies, separate power and communication lines would be run to each well making the retrofit project very costly and time consuming. Additionally, maintenance of the system without the miles of power and communication lines is eliminated.
Readers wanting to learn more about the solution implemented using ProSoft Technology industrial radios can visit http://instrumentation.co.za/+C14222A
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