On Thursday 31 January 2013, Trevor Hill, from BP, gave a talk on Multiphase flow in oil and gas production.
He started off his talk by describing the 'exploration and production' activities of BP, looking for and then extracting hydrocarbons from reservoir rocks often located beneath sea beds. The company often uses an offshore multiphase production system to transport the hydrocarbons from wellheads to processing facilities on platforms, boats, or onshore.
Trevor then defined the term 'Flow assurance', an engineering discipline that emerged in the oil and gas industry about 30 years ago. It refers to ensuring successful and economical flow of hydrocarbon stream from reservoir to the point of sale. It involves a good understanding of the fluids and of how to design the pipe system to get the required flow rate with the available pressure energy, and without blockages or loss of containment.
He also highlighted a whole range of flow assurance issues related to chemical engineering. For example, engineers face many challenges and problems concerning forces on bends and irregular 'slug' flow.
However, BP continues researching to find solutions to these problems, looking at technology projects with flow assurance interest such as flow modelling, deep water technology and unconventional oils.
He finally noted that a large amount of complex engineering goes into fixing pipes on the sea bed and connecting these up. In addition, there can be issues that sometimes involve large power requirements like when electrical current is applied to long pipes to keep the fluids warm so that hydrates don’t form.
The BP Institute in Cambridge also looks at fluid flow issues. For more information see on Flow Assurance Engineering careers with BP visitwww.bp.com