Turnkey High-pressure Simulation System
Extreme pressure under the earth affects drilling tools and electronics, so manufacturers of drilling equipment need to test prior to field use to prevent costly accidents. To verify, it is helpful to simulate deep well conditions and subject new tool designs to pressure levels found under the earth's crust. See photos.
Extreme pressure under the earth affects drilling tools and electronics, so manufacturers of drilling equipment need to test prior to field use to prevent costly accidents. To verify, it is helpful to simulate deep well conditions and subject new tool designs to pressure levels found under the earth's crust.
In recent years, drilling and completing oil and gas wells have reached greater depths and pressures, especially in deepwater offshore drilling. As a result, many new downhole tools are now qualified with high pressure gas rather than a liquid test media. Halliburton's challenge was to refurbish and upgrade an existing facility to safely, efficiently, and remotely handle high pressure gas.
The solution, provided by Optimation Technology Inc., involved turnkey layout and fabrication of a new valve, panel, and control system. The system was fabricated in a cargo container and completely constructed and commissioned in Optimation's shop in Rochester, NY. Upon verification of the control software, the system is slated to be installed and commissioned at Halliburton's facility.
National Instruments' cRIO is the core of the test system. cRIO's floating point gate array (FPGA) controller and a real time interface gives operators high speed interlocks (which prevent the mixing of test substances). In addition, if Microsoft Windows shuts down, the system can still control itself because cRIO is still operating.
The new system gives operators a “heads up” display, and in manual mode they can click on valves and select pump setpoints to create various test conditions. Automatic mode allows operators to run preprogrammed recipes created by engineering. The recipe then controls pump set points and valve positions in a pre-set manner.
Recipe configuration software, designed by engineering services firm Optimation, was developed as a standalone application running in an office environment. The software supports set up and storage of the various recipe steps.
Safety is another feature in the recipe generation software. It allows the engineer or technician to build a recipe at his desk and simulate it before running an actual test, ensuring that each recipe is correct before actual use. Once the recipe is created, it can be stored and then run on the actual system.
In the software, there is one main screen that shows the camera view, a chart of the data, a process flow diagram (that allows interaction with valves and setpoints via a point-and-click interface), and a recipe area that allows operators to load and run recipes when in automatic mode.
Data can be acquired at multiple rates—up to 100 Hz and as low as 0.1 Hz. The operator can view data in digital form on the process and also can watch trends in a graphical format.
The test system is capable of pressuring test articles up to 30,000 psi. Automatic valves allow the user or a recipe to set flowpaths on the test system. High pressure metering valves are controlled via stepper motors to give the system automatic bleed control. Any of the six channels can be bled independently.
The system was built in a container in Optimation's shop, allowing for easy delivery as a package to Halliburton's site. Optimation designed the container layout for access to all equipment. A control panel communicates via Ethernet with the control console.
A new inertion system controls the flow of nitrogen to Halliburton's downstream chamber. The throttling valve, controls, piping and oxygen analyzer in the chamber are hooked up to the control panel, which controls nitrogen flow into the system. Control is based on percentage of O 2 in the chamber as measured by Halliburton's analyzer.
The control room is isolated from the test area with a thick metal plate, protecting technicians from high pressures. In addition to data monitoring, technicians can view test conditions in real time with the IP cameras. All control and data acquisition is via Ethernet, keeping the technicians out of harm's way during testing.
Various systems at Halliburton's site are standardizing on the same architectural design. Cross-training of technicians from one system to another is envisioned.
In addition to the safety enhancements, style meets function with automatically run recipes, cRIO-based architecture, computer-based process monitoring, and dynamically controlled Web cameras.
From the 2009 edition of the Automation Integrator Guide, a supplement to Control Engineering magazine. www.controleng.com This annual print guide to nearly 1,800 automation system integrators is searchable online at www.controleng.com/integrators .
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