This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 197759, “Energy-Saving Challenges and Opportunities in Upstream Operations Using Value Methodology,” by Mohamed Ahmed Soliman, Saudi Aramco, prepared for the 2019 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, 11-14 November. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The objective of the complete paper is to investigate and analyze energy-saving and process-optimization opportunities in upstream surface facilities, from downhole to the gas/oil separation plants (GOSPs), using a value-methodology approach. Function analysis was used to identify those functions that can be reduced, eliminated, or synergized to minimize GOSP operating and maintenance cost. All successful opportunities were selected on the basis of their minimum operating expenses and capital expenditure (CAPEX) with a value-engineering methodology.
Value methodology has been implemented successfully in new projects to save costs but rarely has been implemented in oil and gas operating facilities to minimize operating costs. The success of value methodology in reducing capital project costs prompted the author to explore its application to operating facilities, specifically toward minimizing operating and maintenance cost. Value methodology is used when value is a concern and requires optimization. Value is defined as the ratio of function to cost. The value-engineering methodology consists of the following six-step process (Fig. 1):
Information: Collect, review, and analyze all information about the project or the plant, including the cost. Review and define current project conditions and identify study goals.
Function analysis: Define the primary function of the product or project in a simple format.
Creativity: Generate the largest number of innovative ideas (brainstorming) without being controlled by standards and best practices.
Evaluation: Evaluate the ideas generated from the creativity phase, eliminate impractical ones, and select the most-profitable and -achievable improvement idea.
Development: Develop further the selected best ideas from the evaluation phase and estimate the cost. The development phase includes cost/benefit analyses, drawings, implementation steps, and responsibilities.
Presentation: Present the selected ideas to decision-makers and stakeholders for final approval.
Several energy-saving opportunities were analyzed to highlight the need to check continuously the function of each equipment item and process in any operating facility. Many functions were found to be unnecessary. In some cases, these unnecessary functions adversely affected plant operation. The complete paper provides four case studies; this synopsis will highlight three of them.