On Oil & Gas facilities, metering systems are used for monitoring and recording plant conditions and specifications in order to support decision making. However many key specifications required for operational decisions cannot be physically metered. Traditionally this would require an engineer to analyse other recorded variables to determine the value for such a specification. This paper describes an innovative approach to support real time operational decision making by creating virtual meters.

While useful on a small scale, the traditional method is time consuming and error-prone. Our approach involves the development of an automated service that gathers live data from the plant's operational historian and integrates with third party simulation software to enable more complex calculations of plant specifications of interest. The service is then able to publish the calculated values back to the operational historian in near-real time, simulating the behaviour of plant meters.

This approach is effectively creating virtual meters that support real-time decision making at an operational level. The process is automated, allowing the engineers to focus on using these specifications rather than calculating them. The produced data is recorded periodically and available in the same format as the rest of the plant data. The same methods and tools can be used for analysis of the live and historical data for identifying trends and predicting when a specification is approaching key thresholds, enabling the operator to take steps to rectify the process. The concept has been successfully used for a major operator in the North Sea to allow them to maintain production specifications within contractual requirements.

The creation of virtual meters by integrating key systems to support near-real time decision making is a novel approach, which can be extended to other areas where measuring plant conditions / specifications is not physically easy or possible.

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