Since about 1990, the automation of flowmetering systems has been gaining
momentum. During this time, operations have been simplified by flow-system
automation, but the petroleum industry has been exposed to significant fiscal
losses arising from “teething problems.” This paper reviews the problems that
are yet to be addressed by the automation industry, based on field experience
over an extended period of time. The fiscal significance of these shortcomings
is presented, and measures are suggested to correct the problems. It is
expected that this work will prompt the automation industry to address the
existing limitations of metering systems when designing future flow
Automation of flowmetering systems is necessary in order to operate flow
valves remotely, track changes in operating flow conditions, minimize
measurement errors arising from human intervention, and increase fiscal
measurement and computational accuracy. For these reasons, the petroleum
industry wants to automate metering systems and has undertaken to do so.
However, constraints exist that prevent the complete achievement of this goal
at the present time. Unfortunately, the ease with which automated systems carry
out operations frequently prevents the users of automated flow computers from
noticing these deficiencies, which current systems cannot overcome.
Over the last 15 years, metering-system automation and the use of automated
fiscal systems in the Nigerian petroleum industry have been closely observed.
Field experience has identified certain shortcomings in existing flow
computers, which are capable of causing significant loss of credit to the
facility users. These shortcomings have their origins in certain fundamental
problems in the automation industry. It is assumed here that the shortcomings
of the metering systems in Nigeria can reasonably be assumed to represent a
situation that exists in the global industry, because the same companies that
operate in Nigeria also operate elsewhere in the world.
In this discussion, possible short-term solutions to these shortcomings are
proposed. The long-term solution of these problems is the major challenge
facing metering-system automation in the petroleum industry.
© 2007. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- Original manuscript received:
12 July 2005
- Revised manuscript received:
3 April 2006
- Manuscript approved:
10 April 2006
- Version of record:
20 February 2007