Non-Contacting Solution for Plugged Off Flow Meters in The Oil Patch

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Courtesy of Greyline Instruments Inc.

For years Petrobakken Energy Ltd. used inline turbine flow meters to track the flow rate of oil recycled to treaters. But with a high concentration of wax and sand in the oil, the turbine meters were quickly plugging off. The line had to be shut down at least once a day and the turbine flowmeters disassembled for cleaning. This was troublesome and expensive. Petrobakken knew there had to be a better way.

Crude oil is delivered by tanker truck to the Petrobakken battery site in Drayton Valley, Alberta and offloaded to emulsion tanks and then pumped to treaters for processing where gravity, heat and chemical additives break down the oil-water emulsions.

To maintain production without shut downs Petrobakken contacted Seidlitz Engineering of Cochrane, Alberta to help find a solution to their wax off problem. Seidlitz specified clamp-on ultrasonic meters because they work from outside the pipe without obstructing flow. They contacted Carbon Controls Ltd. in Calgary for DFM 5.0 Doppler Flow Meters manufactured by Greyline Instruments. Three meters were originally installed. Petrobakken’s lead operator, Terry Willoughby found that the Greyline DFM 5.0 meters measured flow reliably and were unaffected by wax and sand in the oil. Because they work from the outside of the pipe the Doppler ultrasonic flowmeters did not cause plugging off or pressure drop. With more than six months continuous operation with the new Greyline flowmeters there has been no shut downs for cleaning. Terry commented “when something works, it works”.

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