To meet the challenges of production, particularly of unconventional shale production, experts are beginning to move toward more sophisticated, high-visibility approaches to gain insight into what is happening in the field.

Implementing an automation strategy has a wide range of production applications. With the ability to transfer data immediately from the field to the office, companies can obtain the information needed to make quick, informed decisions based on easily accessible diagnostics and resource utilization numbers.

Real-Time Surveillance
Full transparency is key to begin building a foundation for transformation and optimization. Comprehensive installation of all applicable technologies and telemetry (simultaneously with surveillance equipment) can ensure thorough monitoring of processes in real-time or near-real time.

When considering applications, look for architecture that is flexible and scalable. Remember that wireless technologies will reduce costs and enable easier additions in the field as operations change and grow. Preconfigured software and hardware can facilitate faster production and increase standardization.

Some examples of surveillance include:

  • Monitoring wellhead integrity including casing, tubing pressure, temperature, chemical injection, and sand or corrosion
  • Checking separator/heater-treater production data and tank volumes
  • Automatically controlled custody measurement

Real-Time Separator
Putting into place reliable and efficient separator operations is key to maximizing production and yield while also meeting basic production goals. Every aspect must be accurate, from level measurement, level control valve performance, pressure control loops and flow measurement solutions. An optimized separator solution can make it easy to identify and diagnose a problem with any of these separator parts, while an opaque system can lead to lengthy attempts at problem solving, loss of valuable time and lower than desired production.

And the payback from these systems is not insignificant. Some operators estimate that the implementation of these tools could enable the recovery of 3.4 percent more gas production, which translates to the potential increase of gas sales by $3.3 million per year.

Gas Lift Management
Under or over-injecting gas can significantly reduce profitability by wasting resources, slowing down production, and putting unnecessary strain on equipment, by either overwhelming or starving it. When the structure uses carefully calibrated, automated software, injection flow rates can be optimized to accurately deliver fuel to each well, prioritizing those with the highest profitability, and protecting compressors from common failures that would further impact gas lift supply.

Ideally, these systems should be assessed through multiple variables across the field and integrated towards an end of more effective proving. When people and processes come together with technology that is sophisticated enough to translate between them, operators can see maximized efficiency.

Implementing surveillance is the first step toward transitioning to innovative business solutions. Knowledge is key, and to change the way that a field is managed and operated requires complete transparency as to what is happening on the ground.

For more information on automation strategies, check out the full white paper here.