Ensuring it adds up

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Keeping track of the hydrocarbons that pass through an operating facility may not be the most high profile of activities, but is vitally important for any oil and gas operator. 

As an operator on behalf of joint ventures and with a growing global footprint, it is critical that Woodside demonstrate to all of its stakeholders that the figures detailing production and the origin of the molecules produced are accurate. The move towards equity sales, whereby partners in the North West Shelf Project can now market gas individually as well as jointly, has made this requirement even more of an imperative. 

The equipment which measures process inflows and outflows is a crucial part of the production allocation system, so Woodside recently completed a two-year review to ensure that the maintenance, calibration and management of this equipment was fit for purpose. It was a mammoth effort that required huge doses of patience, perseverance and the collaboration of many people. Doing the right thing is not always easy. 

But as Sam Carter explains, as a responsible operator Woodside must be able to demonstrate to its joint venture partners and other stakeholders the accuracy of the measurement of oil and gas processed at its operated facilities. "Being a good operator and proving ourselves as a partner of choice means we need to know exactly where the molecules come from and where they go to," says Sam, the principal instrument and controls engineer who headed the equipment review team. He says the same applies for the various government regulators who all need confidence in the company's figures. "Woodside needs to demonstrate to our stakeholders that our metering equipment is correctly maintained and correctly monitored," Sam says. "The work that has been done demonstrates confidence in our allocation measuring equipment because we have a robust management and maintenance systems in place." 

The review encompassed Karratha Gas Plant, Pluto and all floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facilities, so little wonder the extent of the work was massive. "There were 1181 sensors in 435 meters which had their maintenance strategies optimised, 74 master data change requests issued and 51 new maintenance procedures created – all checked for fit-for-purpose and then approved," explains Sam. "And this hasn't just been a paperwork exercise. "In fact since we began this work, 634 maintenance tasks have been carried out on these metering systems. "All that demanded an awful lot of collaboration and a greater awareness across the business of how important allocation metering is for Woodside." 

Sam says those instrumental in making the review a success included central engineering, including metering engineer Ruel Pabito; the production allocation team, and in particular senior production allocation engineer Roy Ray Del Val; the maintenance, operations, and master data teams as well as the data science team which has developed tools that automatically monitor the metering equipment. "And it also required support and approval by the asset surveillance and system engineering teams," Sam adds. Chief operations officer Mike Utsler congratulated those who worked on the review. "The resulting changes are vital to demonstrate our partner of choice credentials and to achieve our goal of achieving top quartile performance as an oil and gas operator," Mike said. 

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Trunkline Q1 2017