Wireless Remote Monitoring Improves Data Gathering on Wellheads

By FieldComm Group

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Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), a major global oil producer headquartered in Ahmadi, Kuwait, needed to improve its remote monitoring for wellheads. Manual procedures required frequent trips to each wellhead to record data, as well manual data entry to get this information into production optimization systems.

KOC originally relied on the pressure in underground formations to extract oil. But by late 2010, the company started depending on artificial lift stations to produce the required pressure, with the number of lift units increasing dramatically each year thereafter. Manual operation and monitoring of such a high number of wells began to be very tedious and time-consuming, and it presented hazards to field personnel.

Real-time automation with wired instruments was first introduced as a solution in early 2012. KOC started with a few wells, but early implementations indicated the average time needed to install the necessary wired instrumentation was one to two weeks per well – much too long given the hundreds of wells requiring upgrades.

The solution was to go wireless.

KOC decided to adopt WirelessHART technology and preconfigured software because it felt this approach would increase standardization and facilitate getting production online faster. All the instruments at each wellhead are connected to a wireless gateway, and the gateway is connected back to the central control and monitoring room via Wi-Fi and WiMAX networks. An RTU is installed at each site to provide the required local monitoring and control, and this unit is also networked back to the central control room via the gateway.

By eliminating most of the required wiring and corresponding infrastructure, installation time was reduced from one week per wellhead to two wells per day, a tenfold improvement. Installation costs were cut in half, saving $3,000 per well. HSE risks were also reduced, as much less excavation and wiring work is required in these potentially hazardous areas. Data accuracy is in the range of 99.9% – more than sufficient for the application – and data availability is high.

A key benefit for KOC is a reduction in troubleshooting time as technicians have remote access to a wealth of information regarding the operation of each well. This allows them to diagnose problems quickly, and to arrive at the site with all the tools needed to address any issues.

With the expansion in artificial lift units and corresponding instrumentation, the variety and real-time availability of data is dramatically increasing in quantity and complexity. This promises to deliver even more benefits through optimization of wellhead operation, and ultimately the entire oil production system. Optimization will allow KOC to fine tune well production, and maintain oil reservoir recovery to meet production targets.

For more information, please visit the FieldComm Group website.

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