UK-based Cambridge Consultants has developed a new particle analysis technology for the oil and gas offshore sector.

The technology can measure, in real time, droplets of oil or particles of sand and wax in produced fluids at offshore and remote production sites.

It enables produced water to be safely reinjected into a well or disposed of overboard.

Produced water is a sizeable by-product of the extraction of oil and gas, with modern oil wells producing as much as ten barrels of water for each barrel of oil.

Treating and disposing of this water is a major expense for many operators and, in some cases, production is limited by how much water can be handled.

"The technology can measure, in real time, droplets of oil or particles of sand and wax in produced fluids."

The technology uses a novel combination of optical measurements and signal processing techniques to measure the size distribution of droplets, ranging from sub-micron to tens of microns in diameter at typical production flow velocities.

In addition, the technology uses hardware that lends itself to being deployed online in remote locations. From there, the results can be sent directly to an operator to allow remedial action to be taken before a situation becomes critical.

Cambridge Consultants associate director of oil and gas, Frances Metcalfe, said: "There is a general need to be able to check for the levels of sand, oil and additives in produced water that is to be reinjected into the well."

"If a well exceeds certain limits, for example due to a failure in processing equipment, particulates can block pores in the rock, causing production to stop – and even render the well beyond economic use," Metcalfe added.

"There is therefore a real need to be able to analyse very tiny droplets and particles in a pipeline in real time in order to speed up reaction time to correct potential issues."

Image: Cambridge Consultants building in the Cambridge Science Park. Photo courtesy of Cmglee.

Nri energy