Behind the Scenes - An Insiders Approach to Solids Management

SMS Team / May 30, 2017

It can be said that Solids Management is very much like a game of chess; a methodical approach is required to ensure that you don't over expose your most valuable assets and you must always think multiple steps ahead of your opponent.

Solids production, either indigenous or artificial, in the oil and gas industry causes operational issues that will not only affect your company’s bottom line but will impact upon your assets capacity to safely produce.

The life cycle, and overall performance, of your field (or project) will in some respect be affiliated to your ability to manage solids production and corrosion issues. Your understanding of these issues will have an appreciable impact branching across numerous departments and disciplines within your organisation. Where there are gaps in knowledge and expertise it is often quicker and more cost effective to collaborate with a specialist consultancy company.

Whether it’s lost production due to the unplanned downtime required to manually shovel sand out of a separator or shutting in your highly anticipated well because it’s producing unmanageable solids; SMS have the capability and expertise to work with you to overcome such problems.

SMS were recently involved with a major North Sea project orientated towards production uplift that required a “boots on the ground" approach. SMS were brought in to assist the Operator reach their bold production targets, whilst still adhering to industry best practice and regulations. 

The Operator had the foresight and awareness early in the project to identify that the increased threat from solids production required appropriate specialist management. Due to the on-going successful relationship between SMS and this international Operator we were the ideal choice to join the team and help plan the successful implementation of the project.

As the engineer based in-house, I was required to work with total transparency and impartiality with the Operator’s best interests at the forefront of my day-to-day work. The benefits of being based in-house ensured that SMS was viewed as a valued part of the team, sharing the burden of project work.

Together, we conducted solids management risk assessments utilising our SMS industry approved erosion modelling software. The outcomes of these assessments highlighted areas of the plant that required modifications and safeguards to be put in place to ensure the project was achieved. This progressed further and resulted in the implementation of comprehensive and robust asset specific solids management strategies. The solids management strategies in turn are used to provide technical guidance to both onshore and offshore employees to manage solids production within defined safe operating boundaries; whilst demonstrating the Operator’s compliance with HSE best practice.

SMS engineered, procured and installed several wireless sensor array packages in collaboration with a monitoring specialist. This was carried out under the Operator’s management of change procedure to safeguard areas of the plant at risk of solids production and corrosion. These wireless ultrasonic wall thickness sensors continuously measure the wall thicknesses of locations susceptible to erosion/corrosion damage mechanisms (deemed “hot spots”) which allowed the operator to have confidence flowing under the new operating conditions.

Wells were brought online under the guidance from Production and Integrity teams. Acoustic sand monitors were utilised to optimise and analyse well performance. Ultimately, there is a fine line between maintaining asset integrity and achieving production targets. The team found a balance, applying solids management best practice whilst having live data to make informed decisions, ensuring the successful delivery of the project and maintaining the integrity of the assets.

The overall project was delivered on time, within budget with the production targets realised. SMS’s reactivity to the project was acknowledged. Both the Operator and SMS mutually benefited from having an engineer based in-house able to provide immediate operational solids management support.

SMS are uniquely placed to advise, procure and engineer new sensing technological solutions to solids and corrosion management issues earning your trust, with the aim of being viewed as worthy partner in your on-going struggle between maintaining your asset’s integrity against the synergetic effects of solids production and corrosion.

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