If you have ever discounted the importance of accurate measurement in the oil and gas industry, just consider the financial losses that would stem from even the smallest of errors. Consider the impact a measurement error of .25 percent or greater at a meter station flowing 10,000 gallons of crude oil per minute. This would result in the loss of roughly 60 barrels per day, which quickly adds up to millions of dollars lost on a yearly basis. The math is simple, and the causes of the loss are typically easy to address.
Ensuring proper operation of a flow meter in oil and petroleum flows is essential to maximizing measurement performance.While there are many variables that must be considered (such as flow quality, fluid type, meter type and size, pressure and temperature), the ones that are typically most misunderstood or ignored are: installation effects, flow profile quality, and swirl. The piping leading up to the flow meters can cause some of the largest issues with the meters performance. Bends in the pipe (such as elbows or tees), partially open values, reducers, probes, filters, or strainers act as installation effects that cause distorted flow. This can either result in significant swirl in the pipe (pipe flow that isn’t axial), or distorted flow profiles (where the flow isn’t symmetric with peak velocity at the center of the pipe). Luckily, there is an easy solution for dealing with these flow related issues: high performance flow conditioners!
Decades of testing and use have proven that high performance flow conditioners are an effective and efficient method of improving measurement accuracy of fluid flow. When deployed properly, flow conditioners can also play a significant role in reducing operating costs at oil and gas meter stations and facilities. In the past, usage of flow conditioners in viscous flow wasn’t always common due to misunderstandings of the pressure loss behavior of the devices. A lack of proper testing and extrapolation from low viscosity, natural gas applications resulted in incorrect assumptions about their performance and avoidance of use. Recent testing has corrected many of these misunderstandings and has shown that while pressure losses are still critical in the most viscous of flows, for a majority of liquid and oil applications, flow conditioners are extremely effective devices for helping reduce meter error due to swirl and flow profile distortion.
The flow conditioner works by creating a state of ideal flow. Flow profile distortions are largely eliminated and fully developed flow is restored while swirl is reduced by up to 90-95%. When used with modern, multipath Ultrasonic Meters, the flow conditioner can reduce path error by up to 90%! Additionally, the flow conditioner:
- Isolates the flow meter from upstream disturbances.
- Allows much shorter meter runs to be used with much higher repeatability.
- Improves the benefits of many Ultrasonic Meter diagnostics by providing a stable reference flow.
- Helps dampen dynamic flow behavior: pulsation, turbulence, and harmonics.
- Helps balance the pressure, velocity and flow rate of meter tubes running in parallel.
As an expert in the industry, Canada Pipeline Accessories (CPA) recommends the use of flow conditioners in any fluid measurement scenario. This includes air, natural gas, water, oil, liquid petroleum, and many others. If flow needs to be measured, a flow conditioner should be employed to improve flow meter accuracy and repeatability. Flow conditioners ensure high-performance, error-free measurement for any flow measurement scenario. They are proven to provide a fully developed, swirl-free profile required for reliable and repeatable measurement.
CPA offers three flow conditioner designs – the 50E, 55E, and 65E, with the 65E being the optimal recommendation for liquid applications. Our flow conditioners have been extensively evaluated by independent laboratories, and are the simplest and most effective solution for any flow conditioning needs. They have been proven to provide stable performance downstream of even the most demanding installations, ensuring worry-free measurement. Our experts are ready to discuss how each flow conditioner can reduce your operating costs and enhance measurement accuracy.