SPE logo

Flow Assurance: Tackling Tomorrow’s Challenges

13 – 14 November 2013

Oslo, Norway | Radisson Blu Nydalen

Technical Agenda

Wednesday, 13 November, 0930–1100

Session 1: The Source—Connectivity With the Reservoir

Session Managers: Paul Masterson and Sally Thomas

Flow assurance issues may have their genesis long before a well is put on production. Formation damage can occur during the drilling and completion of a well and create flow assurance issues even before the well fluids move from the reservoir to the wellbore for the first time. “Slugging and plugging” concerns should be addressed from the completion into the separator. Slugging issues frequently occur during start-up operations, and may persist during normal operations in risers or in flow-lines that cover irregular terrain. Plugging may be due to hydrates, wax, asphaltene, scale, corrosion products, and/or biofilm deposition within the production or injection system. Operating practices, temperature, pressure control, and chemical treatment are the primary tools to manage good connectivity between the reservoir and the production facility. Topics to be discussed during this session include assessment of potential formation damage risks and mitigation options; hydrocarbon deposition, risks and mitigation options, scale deposition risks, and management practices. Assessments of steady-state and transient flow assurance issues and potential management choices will be discussed.


Session 2: Heavy Oil Processing and Transportation

Session Managers: Gareth Smith and Scott Wilson

Some of the remaining medium/large oil accumulations still undeveloped in the North Sea are heavy oil. Many of these were discovered 20 or more years ago, but remain undeveloped due to the difficulties of producing these very high viscosity fluids. This is particularly relevant when considering a restart from a prolonged shut-in period. The stimulation methods available can all be classified as either: thermal, chemical, or mechanical. The first two seek to reduce the effective viscosity of the fluids by either heating the oil, continuously adding water to assist flow or by chemically treating it. The mechanical method of boosting the drive pressure by pumping the oil is also best employed in combination with viscosity reduction.

This session will examine how flow assurance is supporting the definition of the stimulation methods and the required operating modes:

  • Production rate envelope,
  • Tie back length limitations,
  • Type of facilities needed at the hub,
  • Fluid and flow modelling of high viscosity oil and oil water mixtures.

Shortcomings of the current modelling methods will be discussed.


Session 3: Application of EOR/IOR Techniques

Session Managers: Ghada Bassioni and Aaron Sanders

The need for cutting-edge solutions for efficient extraction of fossil fuel resources is increasing. Industry recovers an average of around 35% of oil from reservoirs. IOR (improved oil recovery)/EOR (enhanced oil recovery) is an important part of improving total production, as the rest of oil remains trapped in the rock. According to the International Energy Agency, boosting oil recovery could unlock around 300 billion barrels of oil.

Over the next 20 years, fossil fuels will meet two thirds of global power demand. Successful introduction of new technologies to maintain the oil field’s constant production for the challenging exploration and production processes is vital. A range of different technologies for IOR/EOR, drawbacks, and lessons learnt are going to be discussed in this session.


Session 4: Operational Flow Assurance Issues

Session Managers: Andre Gokool and Hans Oschmann

The development of long distance tiebacks, Arctic frontiers, and complex gathering systems—in combination with complex fluids produced by multiple wells—has resulted in a new focus on operational flow assurances issues. New developments frequently encounter combined problems such as coprecitiation of paraffin, asphaltene, and hydrates as well as complex incompatibilities resulting in strong emulsions. This session will discuss current risk mitigation strategies for flow assurance at multiphase transport and provide an outlook on the future.

Thursday, 14 November, 0930–1100

Session 5: HP/HT Developments

Session Managers: Gareth Smith and Paul Masterson

The North Sea is a mature area for HP/HT developments with the first field (Erskine) brought online in December 1997. Since then 12 fields have been developed and brought online. During this time, many lessons have been learned. However there is still a reluctance to exploit some HP/HT fields. This reluctance can give rise to over-conservative assumptions around areas such as; Well Head Flowing Temperature (WHFT), annulus management, and hydrate mitigation philosophies— which can adversely affect the system design and impede and event halt the development of fields particularly smaller fields. As fields with even higher reservoir pressures and temperatures have since been found, this session will explore the following:

  • What is the current state of HP/HT flow assurance in the North Sea?
  • What key areas are now taken as “given” and based on these assumptions, how have the design flow assurance models matched reality?
  • What key areas of uncertainty still exist and how have these uncertainties been integrated into current and future system designs and system operational limits?
  • What is the future of flow assurance for small HP/HT developments in the North Sea?


Session 6: Flow Assurance Associated With Shale Unconventional Fields

Session Managers: Alberto di Lullo and Scott Wilson

Shale unconventional developments are extremely dynamic systems. Typically they are characterised by:

  • A high number of horizontal wells with comparatively short lifetimes and a fast evolution, heavily stimulated, and often temporarily assisted by artificial lift technologies
  • Connected by a mutable surface network and producing multiphase fluids

In this context, flow assurance can not only prevent show-stoppers but also has the potential to drive timely decision making, support troubleshooting, and optimise production and economics.

These objectives require a potentially novel combination of monitoring technologies, fast but accurate modelling, effective intervention, data visualisation, workflow integration with logistics and economics, and optimal usage of chemicals. All of this can be a driver for flow assurance advancements and has the potential to create benefits also for conventional fields. The session will discuss all the topics contributing to flow assurance effectiveness in shale developments.


Session 7: HSE Consideration in Flow Assurance

Session Managers: Agnes Molendowska and Sally Thomas

Health, safety, and environment (HSE) risks in flow assurance include personnel exposure, asset integrity concerns, and fluid/waste management.

  • Personnel exposure to all fluids should be considered and managed as part of overall flow assurance management
  • Asset integrity concerns include matching materials of construction with the fluids and conditions of operations
  • Environmental discharges should be minimised and monitored

Good engineering design and operating practices include HSE considerations. Issues specific to flow assurance include NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials) management; hydrate plug and wax deposition mitigation; and personnel exposure to reservoir fluids or treatment chemicals during maintenance activities (including H2S, mercury, solvents, acids, and EOR chemicals). This session will explore these HSE considerations in more detail.


Session 8: Future Technology for Flow Assurance Management

Session Managers: Alberto Di Lullo and Hans Oschmann

Novel technologies have allowed our industry to produce oil and gas in the most challenging environments. Frequently in remote locations which require transport over long distances. In addition, the physical properties and chemical composition of many of the new developments such as extreme wax or asphaltene contents resulting in high viscosities or low temperature restart risks, require a rethinking of flow assurance strategies and new ideas. The lack of abundance, being it of time, money, energy, commodities, etc. is always a great source of innovation. In this session, a number of novel or improved technologies will be presented and discussed.