TECH SHOWCASE: A 'Blindness' Cure for Operators

TECH SHOWCASE: A 'Blindness' Cure for Operators
'Internet of Things' platform takes guesswork out of measuring fluid levels, gas flow, says exec. Image source: Weir Oil & Gas.

Measuring actual, real-time fluid levels and gas flow rates in pressure control equipment can be challenging in drilling and flowback operations. It's not unheard of for a problem to become evident only after a tank has overflowed or a kick has occurred. Weir Oil & Gas, a unit of The Weir Group PLC that provides upstream pressure pumping and pressure control equipment services, recently unveiled an Internet of Things (IoT) approach to collecting such data.

According to the company, its Pressure Control Intelligent Systems (WPC-IS) uses automated controls to take more accurate, real-time fluid and gas flow measurements. Moreover, it contends the IoT platform enhances safety, cuts non-productive time and allows operators to make more informed, faster decisions. Rigzone recently caught up with Weir's president, Paul Coppinger, to learn more about the technology.

Rigzone: What gap does WPC-IS fill in regard to digitalization of the oilfield?

Paul Coppinger: Operators are currently "blind" to the drilling operation in many instances related to surface pressure control. Weir's line of Pressure Control Intelligent Systems replaces a rudimentary, guess-work approach with an IoT approach that is safer, more accurate, and more reliable.

Each of Weir's Pressure Control Intelligent Systems products connects to a control unit via sensors that send real-time information from the equipment back to the control unit. The data is relayed to the customer in a secure, Cloud-based portal, accessible by desktop and mobile devices and stored in Weir's electronic data warehouse for historical reference. Should an issue with levels arise, customers are alerted via local alarms and remote communications, allowing them to have more time to respond.

Rigzone: Is Weir the only company that produces IoT technology to make drilling and flowback operations more automated? If not, what's unique about your technology?

Coppinger: Our approach is unique in that Weir manufactures its own drilling and flowback equipment that will work with WPC-IS. Alternatively, customers can use our intelligent system capabilities on their own equipment.

Secondly, it is supported by Weir service centers in every basin with 24/7 support staff, so repair and maintenance is more convenient and faster – less downtime if something should go wrong.

And most importantly, our technology is field-proven. WPC-IS' 10 different applications across multiple basins, including the Bakken shale, are achieving favorable results, where fluid overflow into the gas vent line is common. Along with reducing health, safety and environmental risks, the intelligent systems have alleviated approximately 12 overflow incidents and saved thousands of dollars in cleanup costs and non-productive time.

Rigzone: How does your technology work?

Coppinger: Each of Weir's WPC-IS products connects to a control unit via sensors that send real-time information from the equipment back to the control unit. Our system is also modular, giving operators the choice to fully integrate the systems or collect, monitor, analyze and notate the data separately for any of the following pieces of equipment, all of which are available for rent:

  •  Mud Gas Separator Intelligent System (MGS-ISC), which provides more precise measurements and automatically controls liquid levels within the mud gas separator
  •  Vent Gas Analyzer and Intelligent Flow Meter System (VGA-ISF), which integrates a flow meter and vent-gas analyzer to more accurately measure gas flow rates and gas volume for methane and hydrogen sulfide
  • ECO-Tank Intelligent System (ECO-ISL), which provides more precise measurement of liquid levels and in the tank or other secondary containment unit. It's the industry's first active, real-time monitoring system for containment levels.
  • Frac Flowback Intelligent System (FFB-ISL), which provides more accurate monitoring of flow-rate data and level change within frac tanks.

Rigzone: Would you like to add any comments?

Coppinger: Weir's commitment to optimizing upstream oil and gas operations is evident through this type of solution that focuses on addressing customer needs, including greater safety, efficiency, productivity, equipment longevity and lower total cost of ownership.

Our system is field-proven. We support it throughout North America. We manufacture the equipment this system is designed to monitor, or it can be used on other equipment. And lastly, our lead-time to have customers up and running is done with a sense of urgency. It usually takes no more than two to four weeks, depending on the circumstances, to install and deploy the equipment/devices before the system is turned on.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Tech Showcase is a Rigzone feature highlighting new oil and gas-related technologies and techniques and novel applications of existing tech. If you'd like to suggest an item for Tech Showcase, email Rigzone Senior Editor Matthew Veazey at mveazey@rigzone.com. Be sure to include "TECH SHOWCASE IDEA" in the subject line.)

Matthew V. Veazey has written about the oil and gas industry since 2000. Email Matthew at mveazey@rigzone.com

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