Recent advances in data acquisition systems have helped in monitoring wells performance and recording their production parameters like pressure, temperature and valve opening in real time with high frequency. A cost-effective technology to estimate well production rates is Virtual Metering, which integrates real time data and analytical models. This paper presents the methodology of an innovative virtual metering tool and the promising results obtained in real case applications on gas, gas condensate and oil fields.

A Virtual Metering tool has been developed by integrating a commercial software platform and mathematical models (algorithms). The algorithms solve simultaneously dynamic pressure and temperature gradients (VLP) along with the choke equation to find the optimal solution rates that match physical sensor readings. Moreover, the tool manages the communication between real time data and the models enabling a safe storage of the results. Models require a manual calibration at reference dates based on well separator tests or MPFM readings, in a way to match total field production. After calibration, the algorithm is able to run automatically in real-time.

Three implementations are presented about gas, gas and condensate and oil fields, showing the benefits and limitations of virtual meter application. Virtual meter proved to be a valid technology with the potential of even replacing MPFM results, especially in dry gas fields. Where MPFM are installed on each wellhead, virtual meter worked as redundant system and allowed to detect precociously flow meters malfunctioning. The allocation workflow has been modified in order to replace MPFM estimations with virtual meter ones. For oil fields with variable production parameters, the tool has provided reliable independent rate estimation by combining VLP and choke calculator in a unique optimization tool. The real time flow rate can be used as a basis for pro-rata allocation of fiscal production in the framework of a Production Data Management System software. Additional features of the tool are the following: a real-time input for pressure and rate transient analysis and a workflow for real-time well drawdown estimation of gas wells, which makes use of automatic p/z reservoir model update to estimate reservoir pressure. Moreover, this tool had a significant impact on production monitoring, improved the effectiveness of production optimization actions and the quality of history match of reservoir 3D model.

This paper contains a novel approach of a reliable and robust virtual metering tool that can be flexibly applied to gas and oil fields through a unique optimization algorithm, which is able to combine information coming from production network and from the reservoir side. It gives benefit to company workflows by feeding external reservoir analysis applications that would not be possible without virtual meter results and uses the results of external applications for validation purpose.

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