It seems ironic that to get energy, oil producers must use a lot of energy. But a variable frequency drive from ABB adapted for a multiphase pump may help the industry realize significant energy savings, along with time and money reductions.
"When drilling for oil, you don't just get oil," says Erik Torseke, Vice president and business manager of ABB (www.abb.com). You also get natural gas, water, and solids. Today, each media must be pumped to individual separator stations near the well and then pumped to designated handling facilities.
The multiphase pumps from companies such as Borneman and Flowserve make it possible to remove the oil and gas mixture from the ground and then send the mix through pipelines to distant processing facilities. Separating the oil and gas at an off-site facility instead of at the well is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and allows companies to produce oil in areas lacking easy access, such as the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico, notes Stuart Scott, associate professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M. The multiphase pumps are expected to play a key role in sub sea/deepwater development by increasing the amount of oil harvested. "These pumps allow you to get the same sort of recoveries as onshore and still push the fluids 10 to 20 miles down the pipeline, " Scott says.
To help regulate the multiphase pump, ABB, along with students at the Texas A&M Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, are looking at developing a real-time regulator based on the university's research results and ABB's electric-submersible-pump and progressing-cavity-pump control technology. The system works using pressure and temperature sensors.