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Multiphase Flow Metering: Current Trends and Future Developments

Article  in  Journal of Petroleum Technology · April 2013

DOI: 10.2118/71474-MS


55 5,269

4 authors, including:

Gioia Falcone Claudio Alimonti

University of Glasgow Sapienza University of Rome


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Distinguished Author Series

Multiphase Flow Metering:

Current Trends and Future
G. Falcone, SPE, Enterprise Oil; G.F. Hewitt, Imperial College; C. Alimonti, SPE, U. of Rome La Sapienza;
and B. Harrison, SPE, Enterprise Oil

Abstract Layout of Production Facilities. The use of MFMs

Over the last decade, the development, evaluation, and use reduces the hardware needed for onshore, offshore topside,
of multiphase-flow-metering (MFM) systems have been a and offshore subsea applications. Of primary importance is
major focus for the oil and gas industry worldwide. Many the removal of a dedicated test separator for well-testing
alternative metering systems have been developed, but applications. Use of MFM (with its smaller footprint) for
none can be referred to as generally applicable or univer- topside applications minimizes platform space and load
sally accurate. Both established and novel technologies requirements for well-testing operations. Finally, costly
suitable to measure the flow rates of gas, oil, and water in well-testing lines can be stripped from the production facil-
three-phase flow are reviewed and assessed within this ities, which may be of vital importance for unmanned loca-
framework. Technologies already implemented in various tions, deepwater developments, and satellite fields.
commercial meters then are evaluated in terms of opera-
tional and economical advantages or shortcomings from an Well Testing. Conventional test separators are expensive
operator’s point of view. The lessons learned about the
and require much time to monitor each well’s performance
practical reliability, accuracy, and use of available technol-
because of the time required to reach stabilized flow con-
ogy are discussed. As operators now realize, use of MFM
systems (MFMSs) is essential in exploiting marginal fields. ditions. It is particularly important in deepwater develop-
A new approach to flow assurance, deepwater develop- ments, because of the exceptional length of the flowlines.
ments, downhole/seabed separation systems, and wet-gas In such cases, production from individual wells connected
fields is foreseen. The authors suggest where additional to the same manifold may be monitored by use of a dedi-
research to develop the next generation MFM devices will cated test line to avoid shutting down all the wells, then
be focused to meet the as yet unsolved problems. testing them one by one (with considerable production
loss). However, the expense of a separate flowline may be
Brief History prohibitive, hence the advantages of MFM installed in the
The first commercial MFMSs appeared approximately 10 subsea manifold. Test separators have an accuracy between
years ago, as a result of several multiphase metering approximately 5 and 10% (currently achievable with
research projects in the early 1980s. The driving force to MFMSs) but require regular intervention by trained per-
develop MFM technology was the forecast decline of pro- sonnel and cannot provide continuous well monitoring.
duction from the major North Sea fields, accompanied by Another disadvantage of conventional well testing with
the necessity to tie back future smaller discoveries to exist- conventional separators is that well performance suffers
ing infrastructure. Increasing gas and water fractions, after shutdown cycles related to well testing. Often, wells
inherent in a mature producing province, would create tested on a regular basis require more-frequent workovers
more-unstable flow conditions in existing production facil- to maintain their production rates.
ities and require more-flexible multiphase solutions. Use of MFMSs for exploration-well testing4 provides sat-
isfactory flow measurements without separation of the
In less than a decade, MFM has become accepted in the phases. It is claimed that they can be used to monitor the
field and is beginning to be considered as a primary meter-
well during its cleanup flow (traditionally, this flow infor-
ing solution for new field developments.
mation is lost because the well stream is not directed
MFM Applications through the test separator). Added value is represented by
Within the oil and gas industry, it is generally recognized improved control of the drawdown applied to the forma-
that MFM could lead to great benefits in terms of the fol- tion, the pressure transient, and shortened flow periods
Reservoir Management. MFMSs provide real-time, con-
Copyright 2002 Society of Petroleum Engineers
tinuous data to enable operators to characterize field and
This paper, SPE 74689 is based on paper SPE 71474 originally presented ath the SPE 2001
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, 30 September–3 October. Dis-
reservoir performance better and react faster. Changes in
tinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptive representations that summarize gas/oil ratio or water cut can be detected and quantified
the state of the art in an area of technology by describing recent developments for readers
who are not specialists in the topics discussed. Written by individuals recognized as experts in immediately, whereas traditional test separators provide
the area, these articles provide key references to more definitive work and present specific
details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to inform the general readership of recent
information about only cumulative volumes at discrete
advances in various areas of petroleum engineering. points in time.

77 77
APRIL 2002
Production Allocation. Any situation where production
from different wells and fields owned by different opera- [Note: Relative error=(measured−actual)/actual;
tors is commingled in the same pipeline for export to a Absolute error=(measured−actual).] However, because of
common processing facility requires allocation metering. the high complexity of multiphase mixtures, it may be
Without MFMSs, the production from each well must flow optimistic to claim that the above ranges of accuracy apply
through a test separator before commingling with the to any flow regime and for any chemistry of the fluids.
other produced streams. Misunderstandings may occur when defining the level
of uncertainty associated to different types of MFMSs. In
Production Monitoring. MFMSs provide real-time infor- the case of differential-pressure devices, which present a
mation on variations in the gas and liquid flow rates, so constant absolute error, the concept of “rangeability”
that well-slugging effects or gas-lift problems may be should be taken into account if the accuracy is referred to
detected as they occur. This allows production optimiza- the measurement itself (Fig. 1).
tion and extension of field life. Special attention must be paid to error propagation. For
MFM techniques based on interdependent measurements,
Capital and Operating Expenses. When operators must the errors associated to the individual measurements are
decide between a traditional approach to the production combined and propagate through to the final result.
facilities and one including MFMSs, they must compare Because multiphase-flow modeling is complex, tracking
the capital and operating expenses of each solution. While error propagation through the algorithm can be extremely
it is relatively easy to estimate costs for hardware compo- difficult, which is why MFMSs may need to be character-
nents, it is very difficult to predict the operating expenses. ized by experimental testing. Characterization can be done
This difficulty results from the relatively low number of with tests and field trials. Laboratory tests use fluids hav-
MFM applications worldwide and the very limited opera- ing well-known properties. Controlled flow rates can be
tional history. In general, it is recognized that MFM capital achieved such that operating envelopes and associated
expense is significantly lower than that of conventional errors can be defined. Field tests then are required to iden-
metering hardware,5 but operators underestimate the tify potential operational problems. Compared with labo-
operating expenses associated with MFM, especially for ratory tests, field trials generally introduce more sources of
the commissioning phase and first year of operation. It is error, such as the use of real fluids, the effects of chang-
hoped that after more operational history is gained in the ing upstream conditions, and the need for pressure/vol-
field, MFMSs will require less maintenance after installa- ume/temperature correlations to reconcile readings at
tion and, therefore, operating expenses will be reduced. operating conditions with readings at reference points.
It has been estimated that, for a subsea development 10 km Some of these uncertainties may be reduced in a field flow
from the host platform, use of a subsea MFM could represent loop, although flow instabilities or malfunctioning of the
a 62% cost reduction through the elimination of test lines.6 test separator can occur. In a field environment, where the
In addition, MFM could improve system management with reference measurements are usually taken at the test sepa-
a 6 to 9% gain in the value of the oil recovered. rator, crucial concerns include “Just how accurate are the
measurements at the test separator?” and “Are the uncer-
Fiscal Metering or Custody Transfer. Unfortunately, cur- tainties in measurements from MFM and test
rent MFMSs are not (and may never be) accurate enough separator comparable?”
to satisfy fiscal-metering requirements, although such an
application would guarantee the future of MFMSs. Worldwide MFM Installations
The technical and economical advantages of MFMSs stat-
MFM Accuracy ed above are behind the increasing number of MFM field
To date, no international regulation for MFM accuracy has installations worldwide over the last decade. In addition,
been delivered, which makes it very difficult for an opera-
tor to identify scenarios in which MFM can be imple-
mented. Essentially, three main accuracy requirements
exist for metering multiphase fluids: approximately 5 to
10% for reservoir management, approximately 2 to 5% for Full scale
Relative error on reading

production allocation, and approximately 0.25 to 1% for
fiscal metering.
Because the results from production measurements are Rangeability
used in the reservoir modeling or production optimization
processes, it is clear that the accuracy of such measure-
ments will affect the prediction of ultimate recovery from
a reservoir. It also is clear that different levels of uncer- Max. error
tainty may be acceptable, depending on parameters such
as overall field reserves, oil price, and production lifetime. 1 10 100 1000 10000
Therefore, different levels of MFM accuracy may be toler-
Differential Pressure measurement [mbar]
ated, without necessarily being those indicated above.
With current MFM solutions, it is claimed possible to
measure total liquid flow rate and gas flow rate with a rel- Fig. 1—The concept of “rangeability” for differential
ative error of less than approximately 5 to 10%, and water pressure devices.
cut with an absolute error less than approximately 2%.

APRIL 2002
velocities and two phase
fractions—the third phase
fraction is obtained by dif-
900 ference between unity and
the sum of the two mea-
800 sured ones). Separation or
homogenization can re-
duce this measurement
requirement. By separating
Number of MFM installations

the phases, the need for

cross-sectional holdup
measurements disappears,
and the three volume flows
can be established by con-
400 ventional single-phase
metering technology. How-
300 ever, separation is expen-
sive and difficult to achieve
200 in many cases. The mea-
surement requirement also
can be reduced to three if
the velocities are equalized
by homogenizing the mix-
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 ture. This method is a
Offshore subsea 0 0 0 1 5 22 20 43 55 much more economic
Offshore topside 1 2 10 17 29 52 66 103 210 option. However, the range
Onshore 5 5 3 6 24 65 78 129 542 over which satisfactory
homogenization can be
achieved is always limited
(e.g., it is less feasible at
Fig. 2—Growth rate of MFM installations. very high gas fractions).

Dual-Energy Gamma Den-

some of the major operators have made multiple orders of sitometry. This method uses a gamma source (or sources)
up to 40 MFMSs for full-field application. However, the with different energies. It is possible to determine the
actual growth rate of MFM installations has been lower holdups of the three phases, and these measurements can
than initial industry forecasts suggested. Fig. 2 shows the be coupled with velocity measurements to yield the
actual trend up to and including 1999,6,7,8 plus a 2000 required phase flow rates. Problems involved with this
forecast published in 1997.7 technique include shielding, source decay, averaging over
the cross section, fundamental statistical inaccuracies,
Fundamentals of MFM Technologies limitations in detection equipment, effects of changing
Basically, two approaches exist to measure flow rates of water salinity, and the normal problems of operating
three-phase flow. In the first approach, parameters of the sophisticated electronics for subsea applications. Never-
flow are measured that are functions of the three flow theless, development work on this technique has made it
rates. For example, a pressure drop across a Venturi, the a reasonably reliable and effective measurement.
attenuation of a gamma beam, and the impedance of the
mixture can be determined and relationships established Impedance and Microwave. These techniques are used in
between these measurements and the flow rates of the many commercial MFMSs. The basic difficulty in these
respective phases, three independent measurements are techniques is that the response of the method depends
required to establish the three flow rates. These relation- on the flow configuration. Even in two-phase flows, sub-
ships cannot be predicted theoretically; therefore, they stantial differences exist in impedance (for a given gas-
must be established by calibration. Unfortunately, it usual- phase fraction) between, for example, bubble, drop, and
ly is not possible to calibrate the full range of conditions annular flows (Fig. 3). For three-phase flow regimes, these
over which the measurement technology is to be applied, difficulties are compounded by the presence of the third
and this approach is not always a productive one. phase. Despite the success claimed, the general applicabil-
ity of such devices must be considered questionable. It
The second approach involves measuring the basic para- may be possible to achieve improvements in the imped-
meters of phase velocities and phase cross-sectional frac- ance method by use of tomography techniques, but this
tions (holdups) or quantities that can be unequivocally method is likely to be expensive, and it is not yet well
related to these. To measure the volume flows (and hence established for three-phase flow. Another drawback of
the mass flows) of oil, water, and gas in a pipe, three mean dielectric measurements is that they are affected by the
velocities and three phase cross sections must be estab- continuous phase and perform poorly in the inversion
lished. Therefore, five measurements are required (three region (usually between 40 and 60% water cut).

79 79
APRIL 2002
mined. The problem here is that of relating this velocity to
the fluid velocity with sufficient accuracy. The relationship
between slug velocity and fluid velocity is highly complex
and particularly severe around the phase inversion point in
three-phase systems.

Novel MFM Technologies

A generic solution to the MFM problem has proved elu-
sive. However, adequate solutions are emerging for specif-
ic applications. If regular calibration is feasible over the full
range of conditions, then many alternative metering
schemes could be made to work. In this case, it probably
is best to select relatively inexpensive technologies and use
methods, such as neural-network processing, to deduce
the flow rates. To date, flow-pattern-identification tech-
niques that use neural networks have been applied to con-
ductance-probe, differential-pressure, and gamma-densito-
meter methods. The main advantage of artificial neural
networks is that they do not use predefined rules (as do
conventional signal-processing techniques), but rather
“learn” from experience on training data sets. This feature
enables neural networks to cope with the nonlinear nature
of multiphase flow and achieve high accuracy. However,
these intelligent systems may fail to reproduce reality
when working outside the range of conditions over which
Fig. 3—Effects of flow regime and void fraction on the- they were calibrated. A possible solution is implementa-
oretical response. tion of a fuzzy-logic approach. Briefly, independent sets of
results from different types of measurements (or physical
models) are each interpreted with neural networks. Then,
Differential Pressure. These devises are commonly used on the basis of the reliability of each physical and neural-
in single-phase and multiphase flow measurements. network model with regard to a particular flow configura-
The device most commonly used for multiphase flows tion, the most accurate solution is selected by use of a deci-
is the Venturi, but other devices such as orifices or chokes sion-tree approach. It has been shown that such integrated
are sometimes used. Generally, the response of such solutions tend to be more accurate than those derived from
devices for multiphase flows depends on upstream a single neural-network model.9
flow conditions. Volume-fraction measurements (such as X-ray10 or
The effective liquid viscosity depends on the continuous capacitance tomography, microwave techniques,11 or grab
phase, the dispersed-phase fraction, and the degree to or isokinetic sampling) are undergoing noticeable
which they are mixed. An increased flow viscosity increas- improvements and could provide the phase flow rates
es the differential pressure through the meter and may when combined with independent velocity measurements.
affect calculation of the flow velocity. Alternatively, new stand-alone technologies are under
There are no general relationships for differential pres- development. Some can be highly complex, difficult to
sure across Venturis and other devices in multiphase flow. achieve, and may imply safety considerations, such as
The best approach is to attempt to get as close as possible nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and pulsed neutron
to a homogeneous flow. Recent work at Imperial College activation (PNA).12 However, these are the only methods
has concentrated on developing better homogenization based on direct measurement of individual component
schemes for high gas fractions (typically greater then 0.9). velocities and fractions. Therefore, if available, NMR and
PNA meter technology could satisfy the requirements for
Cross Correlation. The correlation between signals fiscal metering and, hence, guarantee the future of MFM.
obtained at two positions along a pipe is used in several Less expensive stand-alone technologies are pressure-
MFMSs. Thus, the peak in the cross-correlation function pulse13 and acoustic-noise interpretation.14 Although very
between the two measurements represents the “time of attractive in terms of field applicability, these techniques
flight” of a flow feature between the two measurement may offer only limited operating ranges.
positions. Measurement techniques to which this method
can be applied include differential pressure, impedance, Review of Commercial MFMSs
gamma attenuation, and acoustic transmission. Although A critical review of the MFM solutions currently available
the cross-correlation method has the advantage of directly in the market is far from being an easy task. Most MFM
measuring a velocity (and is, therefore, not as dependant research projects are now driven by the oil and gas indus-
on calibration), it suffers from several problems. The most try and usually result in a patented solution. Thus, scien-
important is that, to measure the velocity, a distinct flow tific and commercial interests often tend to overlap in a
feature is required. Almost always, this flow feature is a sector of the oil and gas market where competition is
slug. Differential pressure, gamma, or impedance devices intense. Therefore, a very limited amount of public infor-
readily detect slugs. Therefore, their velocity can be deter- mation is available on MFMS performance. Unless opera-

APRIL 2002
tors are ready to pay non-negligible sums to gain access to Vertical or Horizontal Installation. Some MFMSs must
the results of independent MFM assessments carried out at be installed vertically and others horizontally. For a partic-
well-established laboratories, they usually are offered ular layout of flowlines, one option may be better than
“black-box” packages where very little is unveiled about the other.
the technical principles behind the MFMSs.
When choosing an MFM, operators should give particu- Stand-Alone MFMSs vs. Integrated Packages. Some
lar consideration to the following items. manufacturers now offer MFMSs as part of a larger package
of integrated solutions for reservoir management and pro-
Level of Confidence in a Particular Technique. Acquir- duction optimization. Operators must evaluate whether
ing this confidence is the operator’s responsibility, and is such solutions or separate components are prefered.
on the basis of its in-house expertise and liaisons with
MFM specialists or academia. Tables 1 to 4 suggest possible ways to classify current
commercial MFMSs on the basis of their features. Meters
Safety and Environmental Issues. For some applications, still under development are not included (JNOC, IFP,
MFMSs that use nuclear sources must be discarded. Cranfield U., AEA Technology, Cidra). Also omitted are
MFM solutions that must be integrated with other tech-
Measurement Intrusiveness. Whenever wax, scale, or niques to provide the three flow rates (isokinetic sam-
asphaltene deposition is likely, intrusive devices are not the pling—Petrotech choke-valve models).
best solution. Also, intrusiveness is a safety issue.
Future of MFM
High Gas-Volume Fraction (GVF). It is common under- In times of low oil price, operators tend to focus efforts on
standing that the majority of the MFMSs show larger error short-term rather than long-term investment. Therefore,
for GVF>90%. However, the market offers solutions tai- young technologies, such as MFM, that are not yet 100%
lored to applications with GVF>95%. proven in the field, tend to be classified as too risky and,
therefore, are temporarily neglected. This neglect proba-
Operating Range. No tool exists that is able to cope with bly contributed to slower uptake of MFM between 1999
the entire range of GVFs, flow rates, pressure, water cuts, and 2000. With the oil price at approximately U.S.
and flow patterns. Therefore, the window in which condi- $20/bbl, the MFM market has resumed its exponential
tions allow accurate tool operation must be identified. trend. The recently established Roxar Flow Measurement
AS (which comprises the metering divisions of Roxar and
Tool Size. Most manufacturers claim that they can deliver Fluenta), in only the first four months of 2001, sold
tools between 2-in. and 10 to 12-in. in diameter with the approximately the same number of MFMSs as the com-
same level of metering accuracy. However, because of the bined sales figures for Roxar and Fluenta for the whole of
highly unpredictable nature of multiphase flow, it is very 2000. Shell predicts the MFM growth rate will settle at as
dangerous to scale up small-diameter results without per- many as 1,000 installations per year. Because the cycles of
forming dedicated tests on large-diameter tools. The main the oil and gas industry are notoriously difficult to pre-
limitation is that large-diameter facilities are not able to dict, it may be ambitious to attempt a 5- or 10-year MFM
guarantee the same kinds of tests as those already possible forecast. The future of MFM depends very much on how
with small-diameter flow loops. it will fit with other technologies toward global fieldwide
solutions, as well as on whether relevant scientific contri-
Calibration Level Needed Over Field Life. Although butions will become mature for technical applications.
manufacturers tend to state that their products do not Nonetheless, it is possible to address some MFM goals for
need further calibration after the factory calibration, the the new millennium.
dangers have been illustrated of not accounting for the
dependence of MFMS performance on the range of condi- Better Accuracy, Repeatability, and Reliability. Because
tions (e.g., upstream conditions and fluid properties) over of the increasing demand for MFMSs for field installations,
which they have been certified. dedicated tests should become more frequent, allowing the
manufacturers to gain a better understanding of the
Capital and Operating Costs. This statement may seem strengths and weaknesses of their devices and lead to
obvious, but operators tend to not see the long-term improved technologies. The operating ranges of each par-
advantages associated with MFM installations. Also, MFM ticular solution would become clearer to the operators,
manufacturers tend to hide the real order of magnitude of who could then look at the MFM market and pick the
operating costs. most appropriate options for their applications.

Level of Manufacturer Assistance. When buying Clamp-on Solutions for Topsides and Seabed Applica-
MFMSs, operators also will buy other services from the tions. Retrofitting existing installations is a main issue for
manufacturers, including personnel training. It is very MFM. Subsea manifolds where MFM options were not
important to guarantee some long-term technical assis- taken into account in the design may need major inter-
tance and cooperation in case of failure or malfunction of vention to accept current MFMSs, causing production
any part of the system. loss. Remote onshore fields would benefit from clamp-on
MFMSs also, enabling easy moves from one flowline to
Marine Experience. Previous experience with subsea another, without having to flange-connect the tool or to
installation is a plus for manufacturers. periodically rent a portable MFM.

APRIL 2002
meters. However, in the North Sea, as
well as in other major producer coun-
tries, the only available legislation on
metering requirements still requires a
Homogenisation Leave-as-it-is In-line separation sampling
stream to be measured with single-
Jiskoot-Mixmeter Schlumberger-VX Agar TEA-Vega phase metering accuracy, which
Schlumberger-Framo Roxar AS-Fluenta WellComp implies separation of the phases. To
TEA-Lyra Roxar AS-MFI Accuflow date, relevant efforts in this direction
ISA-Scrollflow Kvaerner-DUET Kvaerner-CCM have been made by the U.K. Depart-
ISA-Solarton Megra (for GVF<25%) Megra (for GVF>25%) ment of Trade and Industry (DTI), the
Esmer Haimo Norwegian Society for Oil and Gas
Yokogawa Jiskoot-Starcut Measurement,15 and the National
Engineering Laboratory, which have
tried to standardize definition, classifi-
International Regulation on MFM Accuracy Require- cation, qualification procedure, and implementation
ments. Although MFM is recognized and accepted by the of MFM.
oil and gas industry, it still must be established as a sepa-
rate branch of oil and gas metering. Therefore, MFM still Flow Assurance Through Technologies Integration.
lacks officially approved guidelines on testing, validation Marginal and deepwater fields will only be commercialized
and certification tools, which, unfortunately, creates many if costs are kept to a minimum, so a tendency exists to
misunderstandings in the MFM community (manufactur- develop them by use of subsea tiebacks to existing host
ers, operators, and governmental bodies). Reporting-accu- facilities when possible. Use of MFM avoids the need for a
racy standards are still absent, as are international regula- dedicated test line and allows metering of the produced
tions indicating which level of accuracy MFMSs must sat- stream before it is commingled with production from
isfy for each particular application. In some cases, MFM other fields. The advantages of MFM can be combined
may be the only viable, technical, and economical solution with the following technologies that enhance the feasibili-
to develop a new field. It is recognized that MFMSs cannot ty of a deepwater or marginal field development.
always achieve the same performance as single-phase Subsea and Downhole Separation. This technology
improves vertical lift to the surface, reduces the processing
TABLE 2—GAMMA SOURCE load on the topside facilities, allows use of simpler flowline
networks, and provides less-severe slugging. It also helps
Used Not Used prevent corrosion, formation of hydrates and unstable
emulsions, and asphaltenes deposition. Thus, many flow-
Roxar AS-Fluenta Agar
assurance issues will be eased by the introduction of sub-
Schlumberger-Framo Esmer
sea and downhole separation, coupled with MFM to opti-
Schlumberger-VX WellComp
mize field recovery.
TEA-Lyra Accuflow
Subsea and Downhole MFM. MFM is easier with lower
ISA-Scrollflow Jiskoot-Starcut
GVFs, lower potential for hydrate, scale or asphaltene for-
Roxar AS-MFI Kvaerner-CCM
mation, and higher density contrast between oil and water.
Kvaerner-DUET TEA-Vega
Downhole MFM appears best suited for intelligent wells,
Megra ISA-Solarton
where streams from different producing intervals require
Haimo TEA-Lyra (for WC>30%)
monitoring. Otherwise, intelligent-well completions
Jiskoot-Mixmeter FlowSys
would require running wireline interventions. Downhole


Yes None

Yes No* Roxar AS-MFI Jiskoot-Mixmeter

Kvaerner-DUET Agar
Jiskoot-Mixmeter Schlumberger-VX
Roxar AS-Fluenta Accuflow
Agar Roxar AS-Fluenta
FlowSys WellComp
Schlumberger-Framo Roxar AS-MFI
Yokogawa Jiskoot-Starcut
Accuflow KvaernerDUET
Haimo Kvaerner-CCM
WellComp Esmer
Kvaerner-CCM Megra
ISA-Scrollflow TEA-Lyra
ISA-Solarton FlowSys
TEA-Vega Yokogawa
Haimo (flow conditioning vessel)
*Venturi’s are not regarded as intrusive devices. TEA-Vega

APRIL 2002
MFM also allows continuous optimization of artificial-lift Conclusions
systems (electrical submersible pumps and gas lift) by use After more than 20 years of dedicated research and a
of real-time detection of well performance change.16 In the decade of field trials, MFM has become an established dis-
future, it may be possible to achieve satisfactory metering cipline in the oil and gas industry. Although, to date, a
accuracy such that, when combined with seabed multi- generic solution to MFM does not exist, adequate
phase pumping, topside metering will be redundant. methodologies are emerging for specific applications. The
Multiphase Pumping. Multiphase pumping technology quality of the results achievable with existing commercial
is used to boost production to the delivery point.17 It can MFM solutions depends on the appropriateness of the
be applied without phase separation or after seabed or work that operators must undertake during the pre-engi-
downhole separation to knock out water from the main neering phase of an MFM application. Throughout this
hydrocarbon stream. period, open dialogue with the MFM manufacturers
There are numerous ways to combine the above tech- is crucial.
nologies to optimize development of a particular field. With respect to deepwater and marginal field develop-
Each development scenario will vary according to the ments, there is an anticipated increase in demand for accu-
number of wells, number of fields commingled, produced- rate MFM solutions. For MFM to meet these expectations,
fluid properties, and distance from the delivery point. The more technical and scientific contributions are needed and
only real drawback to all this new subsea and downhole more proactive communication between the oil and gas
technology is the lack of operational history and the con- industry and governmental organizations worldwide must
cerns about reliability in the field. be established.

Integrated Solutions To Optimize Field Recovery. An References

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improve the recovery of oil and gas. From a flow-rate- Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans,
measurement point of view, it is fundamental to obtain 25–28 September.
continuous information from each producing well or pro- 12. Ribeiro, A.: “Developments in Multiphase Metering,” paper
ducing layer in the reservoir. A distributed-metering SPE 36197 presented at the 1996 Abu Dhabi International
approach enables real-time diagnosis of a well’s health, Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.,
because changes in well operating parameters can indi- 13–16 October.
cate deposition of wax, scale, or asphaltene, changes in 13. Thorn, R., Johansen, G.A., and Hammer, E.A.: “Recent Devel-
the fluid properties, or water break through. This infor- opments in Three-Phase Flow Measurement,” Measurement
mation then can be integrated with stock-tank measure- Sci. Technology, 8 (1997) 691–701.
ments and reservoir modeling for nodal analysis to verify 14. Mus, E.A. et al.: “Added Value of a Multiphase Flow Meter in
the chosen production strategy for the field. Research car- Exploration Well Testing,” paper OTC 13146 presented at the
ried out at La Sapienza U., Rome, on the use of wellhead 2001 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 30 April–3
choke valves to monitor and predict well performance, May.
has lead to promising results, especially when the system 15. Sheers, A.M. and Noordhuis, B.R.: “Multiphase and Wet Gas
is integrated with MFMSs or test separators. Such a field- Flow Measurement,” presented at the 1999 IBC Annual Mul-
wide monitoring and metering approach, from down- tiphase Metering Conference, Aberdeen, 22–23 February.
hole to stock tank, gives a real-time picture of what is 16. “The World Deepwater Report 2000–2004,” Douglas-West-
happening in the reservoir and, therefore, provides the wood Ltd.
best support to reservoir simulation.18 17. NEL (National Engineering Laboratory), notes from “Multi-
phase Flow Measurement Training Course”, 17 January 2001.
Wet-Gas Metering. There seems to be a point where MFM 18. Hatton, G.J.: “Multiphase Flow Meters and Application
and gas metering cross paths. Pushing the MFM opera- Trends,” paper OTC 8547 presented at the 1997 Offshore
tional envelope toward high GVFs (above 95%) and that of Technology Conference held in Houston, 5–8 May.
gas metering toward small liquid content (1 vol% or less), 19. Alimonti, C. and Bilardo, U.: “Measurement Of Three-Phase
leads to what is now referred to as wet-gas metering. This Flow Rates Using Neural Network Approach,” presented at
general definition may change slightly depending on the 2001 International Conference on Multiphase Flow, New
whether some economic value is associated with liquid Orleans, 27 May–1 June.
recovery (in which case it may be more appropriate to talk 10. Morton, E.J. et al.: “Development of a High Speed X-ray
about high-gas-fraction MFM).19 Possible applications of Tomography System for Multiphase Flow Imaging,” present-
wet-gas metering are gas/condensate, wet-gas, very-high- ed at the 1998 IEEE Nuclear Sciences Symposium.
GOR, or depleted fields that are moving from moderate to 11. “Microwaves Make a Case for Real-Time Return,” Offshore
very-high GOR (in which case it may be necessary to Engineer, September 2000, 46–47.
replace any MFM previously installed with dedicated wet- 12. Hall, A.R.W., Whitaker, T.S., and Millington, B.C.: “Multi-
gas meters). Therefore, wet-gas metering is likely to phase Flow Metering: Current Status and Future Develop-
become an important area of investigation in the near ments,” paper OTC 8553 presented at the 1997 Offshore
future. Commercial solutions are available for wet-gas Technology Conference, Houston, 5–8 May.
metering. Although partial separation, isokinetic sam- 13. Gudmundsson, J.S. and Celius, H.K.: “Gas-Liquid Metering
pling, vortex meters, and ultrasonic meters may offer sat- Using Pressure-Pulse Technology,” paper SPE 56584 present-
isfactory results in some cases, the oil and gas industry ed at the 1999 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhi-
seems to favor Venturi meters. bition, Houston, 3–6 October.

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14. Piantanida, M. et al.: “Multiphase Metering: Experimental Gioia Falcone is a petroleum engineer in the technical
Results From the Analysis of Acoustic Noise Through a group of Enterprise Oil plc, Aberdeen. Falcone holds a Lau-
Choke,” paper SPE 50681 presented at the 1998 SPE Euro- rea degree in petroleum engineering from the U. of Rome,
pean Petroleum Conference, The Hague, 20–22 October. La Sapienza, and an MS degree in petroleum engineering
15. Amdal, J. et al.: Handbook of Multiphase Metering, prepared for from Imperial College, London. Geoffrey F. Hewitt is
The Norwegian Society for Oil and Gas Measurement. Emeritus Professor of chemical engineering and Senior
16. Aspelund, A., Midttveit, O., and Richards, A.: “Challenges in Research Fellow at Imperial College, London. Claudio
Downhole Multiphase Measurements,” paper SPE 35559 pre- Alimonti is Assistant Professor at the U. of Rome, La
sented at the 1996 European Production Operations Confer- Sapienza. He previously worked at the U. Catholique Lou-
ence and Exibition, Stavanger, 16–17 April. vain as a researcher. Alimonti holds a Laurea degree in min-
17. Leporcher E.: “So far, so much better!,” SPE review, June ing engineering from the U. of Rome, La Sapienza, and a
2000, 8. PhD degree from the U. Catholique Louvain, Louvain-la-
18. Gjerstad, T.: “Roxar Carves Multiphase Metering Niche,” neuve. Bob Harrison is a senior-staff petroleum engineer
Hart’s E&P, 2000 April, 87–89. with Enterprise Oil plc, London. He holds a BS degree in
19. Couput, J. et al.: “Wet Gas Metering in the Upstream Area: electrical engineering from the U. of Science and Technolo-
Needs, Applications & Developments,” presented at the 18th gy in Manchester, an MS degree in petroleum engineering
North Sea Flow Measurement Workshop, Scotland, 24–27 from Imperial College, and an executive MBA from Cran-
October 2000. field School of Management.

APRIL 2002
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