Protect ESPs by Autonomous Chemical Injection | Schlumberger
Interview
Schumberger’s Digital Solutions Manager for Production Chemistry Michael Van Spankeren
Schlumberger’s Digital Solutions Manager for Production Chemistry Michael Van Spankeren
Publication Date
9/15/2022
Article Topics
Flow Assurance Mature & Marginal Fields Production Chemicals
Products Used

Protecting ESP Wells by Autonomously Optimizing Chemical Injection

Discussion with Schlumberger’s Digital Solutions Manager for Production Chemistry Michael Van Spankeren about implementing Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI for effective inhibition of corrosion and scale

The deleterious effects of corrosion and scale in artificially lifted producing wells occur all too frequently for many operators, culminating in unplanned shutdowns for intervention and associated production deferment. This happens despite their spending significant amounts injecting proven fit-for-purpose inhibitor chemistries.

We sat down with Schlumberger’s Digital Solutions Manager for Production Chemistry Michael Van Spankeren to discuss how replacing traditional manual monitoring and treatment with the digitally enabled autonomous workflows of Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI optimizes chemical treatment of wells produced using electrical submersible pumps (ESPs).

1. Even when operators of ESP wells are continuously injecting inhibiting chemicals meant to prevent scale and corrosion from occurring, they’re still seeing wells fail due to these issues. This in turn incurs significant workover costs and lost production revenue. How does Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI address these problematic challenges?

It’s not the chemicals that are a problem: Formulated inhibition chemicals have a rich history of preventing corrosion and scale from occurring in wells. Ongoing research and development are making them even more effective. However, chemical treatments must be monitored on a regular basis to ensure they are dosed properly. Traditional monitoring and optimization workflows are highly manual and as such are performed at suboptimal frequency. Operators must fall back on the assumption that well conditions remain at steady state until new data is available. But production systems are dynamic in nature and prescribing a chemical treatment program based on steady-state conditions can result in chemical undertreatment, leaving the system unprotected, or overtreatment, requiring operators to spend much more on chemicals than necessary.

The problem is that the data needed to properly monitor the health of the production system is not available at the proper frequency. As a result, the time from when we get insight that there may be a problem to when we take action with adjustment to the chemical treatment is in many cases too late to prevent scale and corrosion problems from manifesting in the well. That’s why we’ve recently launched Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI. This digital application significantly reduces the time between insight and action by leveraging cloud and edge intelligence, connected equipment, and physics-based modeling and analytics. Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI automates traditionally manual workflows and transforms them into autonomous actions providing optimization potential that far surpasses what even the best field personnel can achieve manually.

2. Many operators have not automated their production equipment or processes. How complicated would it be to introduce automation for corrosion and scale monitoring and treatment on every ESP well in a field?

Operators are probably much better prepared for introducing automation than they realize. The primary source of data for Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI is the ESP itself. Connecting the Schlumberger AgoraGateway ruggedized edge computing device to the ESP drive enables acquiring downhole pressure and temperature data in real time for calculating real-time production rates and quantifying downhole scale and corrosion risk. In many cases, operators have already installed wellhead temperature and pressure sensors connected to their existing SCADA system. Agora edge AI and IoT solutions can access this data for also quantifying surface scale and corrosion risk. Additional key data such as water analysis results and well tests that are stored in other internal systems are easily integrated via the robust data ingestion capabilities of Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI. Our goal is to complement any existing automation footprint.

We work with operators to develop an all-inclusive turnkey solution, providing whatever equipment is necessary to automate the chemical injection system. Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI is not required on every ESP well in a field. Instead, operators are welcome to deploy it to demonstrate proof of concept on selected wells with a history of corrosion- and scale-related failures that are costing them the most in terms of deferred or lost production and workover expenses. Whether operators prefer implementing a capex-, opex-, or performance-based business model, we can tailor a solution that meets their needs.

We work with operators to develop an all-inclusive turnkey solution, providing whatever equipment is necessary to automate the chemical injection system. Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI is not required on every ESP well in a field. Instead, operators are welcome to deploy it to demonstrate proof of concept on selected wells with a history of corrosion- and scale-related failures that are costing them the most in terms of deferred or lost production and workover expenses. Whether operators prefer implementing a capex-, opex-, or performance-based business model, we can tailor a solution that meets their needs.


Diagram showing three components interlocking—real-time corrosion and scale risk identification, automated generation of actionable insights, and autonomous chemical injection.

3. Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI is a significantly different way of working from today’s manual methods. Is switching to automated workflows and all or nothing solution for operators?

Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI poses a paradigm shift for managing the chemical treatment of ESP wells. For operators who prefer to be more hands on, we can configure the Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI application to run in “approval” mode. This means authorized users receive an email every time there is a recommended change, detailing the change and the reasons for the recommendation. The email provides users with a link to the application for conducting further analysis of the recommendation as warranted. They have the options of approving (send the rate command to the chemical pump), rejecting (leave the injection rate as is), or acknowledging and deferring (ask the application to leave it as is but send a reminder at a specified future date and time if the recommendation has remained valid). Approval mode gives users full transparency into recommendations from Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI and still enables remote control of the chemical injection, meaning there’s no need to send someone to the field to manually execute. Once users are comfortable with how the application works, we can easily switch to fully autonomous mode. Once operations are autonomous, operators can still choose to receive notifications whenever an action is taken, ensuring that full visibility is always maintained.

4. What are the chemical treatment improvements and value achieved by operators who have deployed Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI?

One of the differentiators for Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI is the way it was developed. Many digital solutions are developed in isolation, based on assumptions regarding conditions in the field. This is not the case with Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI, which we built in collaboration with a customer using wells that were notorious for exhibiting problems with corrosion and scale. We have field results from running the solution on these wells for more than 20 months that demonstrate the value of automation. The bottom line is that the wells deploying Production Chemicals Optimization on DELFI more than tripled their ESP run life over previous years. Additional value derived from the greatly improved ESP performance is a reduction in routine trips to the field, which has decreased vehicle emissions by as much as 90% for chemical-related workflows and reduced the overall carbon footprint. Eliminating multiple trips to the wellsite also significantly lowers HSE risk. Potentially harmful events, such as chemical leaks, are detected in real time before secondary containment is breached, further reducing environmental impact.

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