Well and Facility Operations make operating decisions based on processing huge amounts of data. However, there is a practical limit to the number of optimization moves an operator can make (due to: changing operating constraints, plant disturbances or interactions, fundamental process delays and dynamics, and the remoteness of wells). Automatic Process Control enhances the speed and accuracy with which decisions can be made and is essential for optimization. However, the advantages of automatic process control are often underestimated; hence the discipline is under-staffed and under-utilized.

Process Control also plays a crucial role in plant safety and availability as stable wells or facilities are operated more frequently within the design window. Stable operation results in fewer shutdowns, less breakdown maintenance, less deferment, less flaring, lower operational cost, and sometimes even higher ultimate recovery. The impact of process instabilities on overall well or facility performance are often not recognized; a single trip may wipe out months of optimization benefits.

To achieve the full potential of process control in Oil and Gas Production requires change management; Process Control technology skills need to be used throughout the whole projects lifecycle and integrated with the various processes from field development planning to surveillance and optimization.

This paper will provide the following examples:

  1. automatic control of producer wells to prevent coning and/or gas breakthrough,

  2. automatic control of injection wells to control water flooding and prevent fracturing,

  3. capacity and surge controls for compressor networks,

  4. control applications for the suppression of slugs, and,

  5. higher level process control applications,

where the application of automated control technology has improved production surveillance, management, and optimization.

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