As oil & gas producers seek additional ways to lower their operating costs, wellsite automation is receiving more attention. Unfortunately upstream R&D budgets are also constrained meaning it is difficult to find internal funding to develop any new technologies. One solution is to look outside of the petroleum industry, for so-called crossover technologies. Ideally, the latter should be fully validated, commercially available and should not require significant funding from early adopters in this industry. The technologies described in this article meet all of these criteria.
Non-Invasive, Externally Mounted Sensor for Tank Level Measurement
Using an externally mounted sensor to gauge a storage tank is desirable for many reasons. It prevents the sensor from being affected by the tank’s contents, particularly if the latter is a highly corrosive compound. An externally mounted sensor also has safety implications, because personnel are no longer climbing ladders to manually gauge tanks or fix malfunctioning, internally mounted sensors. If the sensor does not penetrate any part of the tank wall that is a further benefit, because every flanged or welded connection in a storage tank is a possible point of corrosion and leakage. Ideally, a completely automated gauging system would include not only an externally mounted sensor, able to accurately gauge a gas, liquid, solid or multi-phase mixture, but also a communications component able to send real-time gauge readings.
An early stage company in the upper Midwest is commercializing a sophisticated tank level measurement system having all of the aforementioned attributes. The system’s battery-powered sensor provides highly accurate readings on both plastic and steel tanks, even heavy gauge steel. A GPS chip, in the sensor, provides exact location information for mobile shipments. The sensor even measures flow and pressure inside the tank.
The full article, by John Barratt, is available in Issue 3 of Shale Gas International Magazine and can be found on page 25.