Not invented in Houston

The abrupt upturn in the fortunes of the U.S. oil & gas industry in recent months is being helped along by an innovation wave emanating from companies outside the oil & gas industry itself.

By Kevin Parker February 2, 2018

The abrupt upturn in the fortunes of the U.S. oil & gas industry in recent months is being helped along by an innovation wave emanating from companies outside the oil & gas industry itself, whether they be makers of pumps, power systems, instrumentation, or IT-based automation.

"It’s an exciting time in the oil & gas industry. The oil companies have streamlined their approach to be profitable despite higher costs and lower product prices. Best practices are being put in place and our work is part of that," said Mark Thomas, oil & gas industry manager, Endress+Hauser.

Endress+Hauser, Greenwood, Ind., began U.S. operations in 1970 and is one of the largest instrumentation companies in the country, specializing in flow, level, temperature, and analytical instrument production.

The company recently announced partnerships with Angus Measurement Services, TechnipFMC, and Vector Controls to furnish solutions and services that support oil & gas industry digitization. Details are found in the news section of the issue.

All the participants already work in oil & gas, but together they now are looking at, in the upstream, the whole production side of the wellpad, to tackle challenges the oil & gas companies bring to them. 

Take a step back

For example, flow measurement in the separation process must accommodate crude oil, condensates, produced water, and natural or associated gas. In the hydrocarbon leg of the separator, the Coriolis flowmeter is replacing traditional mechanical type flowmeters. The Coriolis meter lacks moving parts and is easy to maintain. Coriolis meters can provide multiple parameters, including flow, density, and temperature, or even Net Oil, API gross, and net volume calculations, viscosity, and Reynolds number trending.

These features allow operators a better understanding of oil quality out of the separator, makes for a more efficient separator, and improves royalty owner allocation.

The big picture is to think about all the industrial companies in the U.S. northeast, Midwest, and on the west coast that stand ready to contribute even more to the oil & gas industry’s on-going success. Support is at hand for challenges that may be specific to a sedimentary basin such as the Permian or that may require automating some state-specific regulatory fine point. That’s a significant advantage compared to working offshore or in an exotic global region.

Immense resources

Besides being equipped with an industrial base capable of winning the last two world wars, the U.S. has Silicon Valley. It makes available to the oil & gas industry all its technologies, developed based on the immense resources provided by global consumer markets.

A story in this month’s issue of Oil & Gas Engineering by veteran technology journalist Sidney Hill includes anecdotal evidence of growing analytics use in oil & gas fields. Several producers—including Anadarko Petroleum and Apache Corp.—shared their stories at the TIBCO Energy Forum.

At Apache, analytics is one part of an IT infrastructure developed following some corporate soul searching in the wake of the industry downturn. "After the market shakeout, we had a new leadership team, and we looked at what we needed to do to come out of the downturn as a stronger company," said Travis Osborne, Apache’s director of information management.

Original content can be found at Oil and Gas Engineering.

Author Bio: Senior contributing editor, CFE Media