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Mon 18 Feb 2008 03:23 PM

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Technology focus: Wellhead compression

Scroll compression is optimising regional wellhead production.

Pratap Chavan at Emerson Climate Technologies explains how scroll compression is optimising wellhead production across the Middle East.

Declining production rates, expensive energy, rising maintenance costs and stringent environmental regulations are all factors that ensure oil producers are in constant pursuit of new production technologies. Copeland Scroll modular compression delivers a breakthrough approach to help reduce wellhead operating and maintenance costs while increasing oil and gas production rates.

As gas wells are produced and reservoir pressures decline, it is becoming necessary to install wellhead compression to maintain production. Without effective compression gas rate and velocity will decrease to the point at which liquids cannot be lifted out of the wellbore.

In recent years, Emerson Climate Technologies has extended the scroll technology application envelope to address the specific requirements of oil and gas industry.

Scroll modular compression offers an alternative wellhead compression solution that is lower maintenance and more flexible. As one of the leading scroll compressor manufacturers, Emerson is leveraging its high volume manufacturing expertise and quality systems to deliver the industry's first standardized compression solution using scroll technology.

Copeland Scroll modular compression is a compact, rugged and breakthrough approach to oilfield gas compression. The scroll module comes equipped with highly qualified features typically found only on larger oilfield compression packages. Packaged flow rates are 15-600 million cubic feet per day, 70-275 pounds per square inch gauge (psig) single stage discharge pressure, and vacuum to 25psig suction.

The compressor module is designed for direct assembly into a package ready for service in the field.

The Copeland scroll modules can be used for various applications which includes- wellhead casing pressure reduction, vapour gas recovery, and flare reduction applications. These have been in application for the last few years in US and Canadian Oil Fields with tremendous success.

The key features of the module include the fact that periodic checks and adjustments are eliminated. Simple maintenance involves changing oil and filters. Factory built modules ship complete with compressor motor, oil cooler fan, full oil charge, oil separation, pressure and temperature shutdowns and the controls and power are pre wired to junction boxes.
Also, the units are approved for use in Class I applications in oil field construction environments, and because the unit is sealed, the hermetic compressor design eliminates oxygen, oil and gas leak paths.

Middle EastTrials

Joint Operations, Kuwait was the place for the Middle East trials and the results showed a gain of 220-225 barrels per day from the trials and a payback of less than 6 months for the entire package costs. The results were consistent even during peak summers with ambient temperature over 53ºC. The results have proved satisfactory and encouraging for regional customers. "I can confirm the scroll compressor was very useful for our field in order to reduce the casing pressure and gain more production, especially for electrical submersible pump (ESP) wells," said Shahab Uddin, senior petroleum engineer at JO, Kuwait.

The packager for the complete scroll module in the Middle East region is Gas Service International (GSI). "This really is an easy to manage, breakthrough application for the sub 200HP sector, and it's proved successful in helping to eliminate venting and flaring," said Peter MacDonald, regional sales manager at GSI.

This solution for the small horsepower compression application is unique for the region and has the potential to improve the production efficiencies drastically while addressing environmental issues on venting and flaring. The fast payback period coupled with output improvements and low maintenance is already attracting oil producers in the region to look at this unique technology.

Modular scroll compressor technology is readily gaining wide acceptance in the western world as the superior choice for wellhead compression applications, including solution gas recovery, coal bed methane and conventional gas wells.

Based on the successful trials in the region, Emerson is very confident of the commercial launch of this unique application of scroll compressor technology in the region, which provides a solution for improving production efficiencies in the current scenario of high oil prices.

SCROLL COMPRESSORSThe basic principle of scroll compression is based on the interaction of the fixed scroll and the orbiting scroll, identical but out of phase by 180 degrees. The movable scroll orbits, following the path set by the fixed scroll and in contact through centrifugal force. Compartments of gas are formed starting from the outside and pushed towards the centre of the scrolls, with the volume getting smaller and the pressure rising, until discharged in the centre.

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