SPED – May 2012 - SPED in the UK & Ireland
UK Process News
The long awaited Electricity Market Reform Bill has been published. It is intended to bridge the move from the current fleet of power stations to new ones of both renewable and carbon sequestered fossil fuels. Part of the impact will be to reduce subsidies on renewable and thus the pressure on prices. The framework is designed to give a stable market, but does not predicate more nuclear capacity. Such capacity would need to fit into the framework.
Shale Gas Equipment Market Boosted
The continuing expansion of shale gas production in the US and its likely spread to other locations around the world, including the UK, offers major opportunities for manufacturers of pressure pumping and related hydraulic fracturing (fracking) equipment.
Pressure pumping is the largest and fastest growing upstream oilfield market in the world. The market is currently concentrated in North America because most wells are drilled there, providing about 75% of the frack demand.
Of the 90,000 new wells drilled in the world in 2011, 16,000 are horizontal wells drilled on land in the US and they drive most of the demand for fracking services. However, he added, fracking activity is growing in all regions and should double internationally over the next 10 years.
Pressure Safety Valve Testing
Better planning could bring significant time- and money-saving benefits to routine testing of pressure safety valves (PSVs). Quality data and a robust maintenance strategy can underpin risk-based methods enabling significant extension of standard inspection intervals. This approach works in synergy with activity to meet prevailing Health and Safety recommendations surrounding these valves.
KP4, the Health & Safety Executive’s inspection programme targeting ageing oil and gas assets, makes specific reference to pressure relief in its Process Integrity criteria. Operators are obliged to demonstrate and document due diligence surrounding the certification of valves involved in any critical application.
Over time, this results in a repository of PSV performance data, allowing a competent valve management service provider can analyse and interpret this data to make recommendations for enhanced risk-based decisions.
PSV testing routinely happens when a plant or platform is offline, so it is usually a priority for planned shutdowns. By reducing the frequency of testing, attention can be diverted to other areas of the valve population that might not have the same safety implications, but have an important role in overall production or business performance.
A new method to more accurately measure gas bubbles in pipelines.
This is important the power, oil & gas and petrochemical industries. For instance, the sharp reduction in pressure when bringing crude up from the seabed causes bubbles in the oil to expand and can lead to a ‘blow out’.
Gas bubble size distribution (BSD) is usually estimated by sending sound waves through the bubble liquid and comparing the measured attenuation of the sound wave with theoretically predicted data.
The key problem is that the theory assumes that the bubbles exist in an infinite body of liquid. If in fact the bubbles are in a pipe, then the assumptions of the theory do not match the conditions of the experiment, leading to errors in the estimation of the bubble population. The researchers explored how measured phase speeds and attenuations in bubbly liquid in a pipe might be inverted to estimate the BSD – which was independently measured using an optical technique. They can now offer a much better estimation of the BSD.