Research for a global R&D organisation has highlighted several ways in which a key measurement proving technology can be enhanced. The project is set to generate further collaborative work and should lead to significant practical and financial benefits for the oil industry.
The project focused on small volume provers (SVP). It was undertaken for the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), which works with leading members of the energy pipeline industry around the world.
“The overall aim of the project was to identify best practice and areas where improvements could be made,” says Project Manager, Dr Linda Rowan. “The work included an industry review, a survey of PRCI members, an assessment of different proving methods and a gap analysis of the design and operation of SVP’s. Users of over 400 proving systems were surveyed.”
SVPs are used to validate the performance of Coriolis and ultrasonic (USM) flow meters in hydrocarbon liquid pipeline transportation systems. Many oil companies are now using SVPs due to their cost-benefit advantages.
The research took place in NEL’s research facilities in East Kilbride and ran from the middle to the end of 2017. It received positive feedback from the client, who commented: “We very much appreciate the quality of work as well as your professional support.”
NEL researchers highlighted, assessed and prioritised over twenty areas of concern relating to SVPs. Gaps in current knowledge about the technology were identified and recommendations on how to fill these gaps were made.
Following on from this project, PRCI is planning to host a webinar for its members during which NEL will present the project’s findings. It is hoped that NEL’s EPAT (elevated pressure and temperature) facility will be used to ‘fill in’ the information gaps the project found. Several other joint projects are also being discussed.
Improvements to SVPs and other prover technology could have several significant benefits, including helping reduce system measurement uncertainty, improving overall pipeline balancing and reducing the minimum detection thresholds of leak detection systems. The proving market is estimated at $200m annually, so any improvements will have significant economic repercussions.