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Integrated Energy Solutions

The Evolution of Measurement

Energy producers in Western Canada are under increased expectations from provincial regulators regarding the accuracy and reliability of their production measurement. This is largely a function of public resource ownership and the government’s desire to ensure accurate allocation of royalties.

Producers need to know what hydrocarbons are flowing from which wellhead, via which processing facility, to which sales pipeline. They need to be certain of these amounts. Under the Enhanced Production Audit Process (EPAP) of Directive 17 from the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), executive officers must attest to their company’s measurement accuracy.

The ERCB specifies measurement accuracy and frequency, the type of measurement, tolerances for calibration and frequency, how liquids are measured and transported, who gets to see the data, and how the data is calculated. Companies are subject to audit and can be held liable for inaccuracies. The 95-page document is crucial, but not fully understood by many producers.

EPAC requires putting field metering and controls in place, monitoring the controls, documenting what the controls do, and documenting how the data is being calculated. This regulatory trend places pressure on producers to upgrade their field measurement at every stage: moving from manually-read circle-chart recorders to automated metering, from locally controlled to remotely controlled systems, and from simple field-level SCADA systems to sophisticated corporate systems with customizable reporting and auditable data.

A field measurement system includes wellhead or post-dehydration meters, water/condensate/oil tank meters, pipeline meters, multiple inlet plant meters and sales line meters. That is just the data recording component. A measurement system must also transmit the data, store the data and present the data in forms that are user-friendly to corporate users and acceptable to regulators. The ERCB pays particular attention to the liquids component in natural gas, and how the ratios change over a well’s producing life, in order to maximize royalty capture.

Of the several hundred thousand producing wells in Alberta, however, only 40 percent are believed to be on a form of remote monitoring, including those using SCADA systems. Many wells continue to record flows using circle-chart recorders. This requires them to be individually read at intervals (annually for sweet wells, semi-annually for sour wells) and forces corporate teams to rely on production estimates rather than regular hard data reports from SCADA systems that provide the further option of on-demand data polling.

At GlobalFlow, we are your measurement experts. To make that claim, the service provider’s capabilities must go far beyond installing individual meters or controls, or even the SCADA system itself. It requires understanding the details of the regulations, so that your production measurement system is fully compliant, as well as paying attention to the continual advances in measurement technology – software as well as hardware.

GlobalFlow has these capabilities and experience. We are able to help the producer at every level, from consulting on reporting needs to planning and installing the right SCADA system, including the reporting tools. We can work with your in-house specialists, or provide you with the complete package, including the production and reporting functions that will meet the ERCB’s expectations.