Metering pumps play a critical role in the upstream oil & gas industry. Flow assurance chemicals such as methanol, monoethylene glycol and corrosion inhibitors must be accurately injected into wells to keep oil & gas flowing, and to boost recovery rates. If these chemicals stop flowing, the well’s production can come to a halt.
Metering pumps are small components on an upstream platform – but the role they play is analogous to a rivet on the wing of an airplane. If that critical component fails, the entire enterprise can be compromised.
For offshore production, one of the biggest issues is the formation of hydrates, which form when light hydrocarbons and water mix under high pressures and low temperatures. Hydrates restrict flow and can damage equipment. Remediation is time consuming, expensive and dangerous (to people, equipment, and the environment), so a sound strategy for managing hydrates is critical. Flow assurance chemicals prevent oil & gas from cooling. They delay the formation of hydrates, and they ensure fluidity from the reservoir to the surface.
Pulsafeeder pumps are widely used in the Bakken shale region of the United States and throughout the Middle East to deliver flow assurance chemicals. Pressure requirements in onshore environments are far less than offshore requirements (250 Bar is sufficient).
Shale production requires extensive volumes of water, and this water must be treated for use, and prior to disposal. Pulsafeeder metering pumps are also used to treat process water at well sites, and to inject scale inhibitors to protect equipment and pipeline infrastructure.
Various chemicals, such as asphaltine and paraffin inhibitors are metered in specific doses when oil & gas are separated and transported from platforms via pipelines. These chemicals are expensive (and injecting too much upstream requires removal downstream), so pump accuracy is paramount.
When offshore platforms are built, the amount of steel required to support the platform and everything on it (both above and below the waterline) is carefully calculated. Each ton of equipment requires a ton of support steel topside, and two additional tons of support steal below the waterline (at roughly $30,000 per ton). Considering that hundreds of pumps are required on a platform, the weight and footprint of each pump matters.