Graham, O.W., Instruments, Inc., a Division of National Tank Co., Tulsa, Okla.

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This paper is to be presented at the Mechanical Engineering Aspects of Drilling Production Symposium in Fort Worth, Tex., on March 23–24, 1964, and is considered the property of Society of Petroleum Engineers. Permission to publish is hereby restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words, with no illustrations, unless the paper is specifically released to the press by the Editor of the Journal of Petroleum Engineers or the Executive Secretary. Such abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper is presented. Publication elsewhere after publication in JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY or SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL is granted on request, providing proper credit is given that publication and the original presentation of the paper.

Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussion may be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.

In the past few years there has been a continuous barrage of information concerning the very latest developments in the field of solid state electronics. Anything associated with the field of electronics has had a certain amount of romance added to its colorful career which began in the early 40's. In 1950 the oil companies began a program of automating the production of oil [Fig. 1]. A very intensive program was undertaken by one company in the Hobbs, New Mex., area and after a considerable amount of time had elapsed the indications were that the automating of an oil field could be accomplished and a proven payout made. Now comes the automation of gas fields. Until recently the production of gas from wells in a given field was controlled manually, and in a few rare cases a direct wire system was employed where 110 V or 440 V was used to operate an electric motor which in turn changed the air supply to a diaphragm actuated choke for changing the flow rates at a remote point. It is now desirable that a more sophisticated system of well control be used for many reasons. One, where the distance between the control station and the well is of considerable length, the cost of the multiconductor wiring to deliver the voltage to the motor in the field becomes quite expensive. So, then it is desirable that small wire, or microwave, or radio equipment be used to transmit signals to the distance points. To do this, a different method had to be developed [Figs 2 - 5].

We, in the manufacturing business, realize that a system must be developed that is reliable and as service-free as possible. One of the costs that the producing companies continued to overlook during the period of time they are estimating the cost of equipment and the payout period is the need for preventive maintenance and repairs. On a recent trip to Louisiana I visited approximately 15 installations of automation equipment and at every location there was some difficulty with the equipment and, in every case except one, the oil company had no one in the area that could perform, the repairs on the equipment, even though some of it had been in three and four years. No equipment manufacturer to date has the capability of manufacturing equipment to operate unattended without maintenance for extended periods of time.

The oil companies and gas companies are going to have to take upon themselves the responsibility of seeing that an educational program is undertaken to develop people in their own organization to maintain complex electronic systems [Fig. 6]. Either that or they are going to have to be willing to pay for outside companies to perform this service.

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