Webinar | LACT Units & Meter Runs

Introduction

Cameron Croft:

So, welcome, everybody. Thank you for joining us on our webinar series: Saving Money in Oil and Gas Operations. This episode is specifically for LACT units and the meter runs. We created this web series of interviewing subject matter experts to help to learn curves and to give out, back to our industry, and then hopefully educate someone. That way, they can do their job better.

Cameron Croft:

So, to get started, a little bit of housekeeping for you. These are all the ways you can get ahold of us, but if you have any questions, if you're new to Zoom, there is a Q&A section or a question-answer section. Throughout the presentations, you can be typing out of your questions, and then I'll try to politely interrupt Bruce to get him to answer the questions, or we'll wait until the Q&A section at the end.

Cameron Croft:

Now, if something goes wrong, I know a lot of us might be working from home, might be driving right now. So, no worries about that. What we will do is we'll have this video uploaded to our vlog and our YouTube channel so you can watch it at a later date, or you can pass it on to some of your colleagues that you think might benefit from this.

Cameron Croft:

So, again, my name is Cameron Croft. I'm the CEO of Croft Production Systems, a company that specializes in natural gas processing, and why you actually came to this webinar today, you wanted to hear from Bruce. He's a regional manager, currently at Fleaux Services. But, he actually started his career in 1959, in gas measurement, getting into chromatography in 1968. In the last few years he was an area manager for the Oil States, a manufacturing facility and meter runs, and LACTs and pressure vessels. And then, the last four to five years, he's actually been a regional manager for Fleaux Services, a company that specializes in oil and gas measurement, in fabrication and automation.

Cameron Croft:

So, I'm talking with Bruce, I'm trying to outline how he can share his information with us. He kind of put a quick template together in this presentation, focusing on meter runs, meter run with case studies, things that he'd seen in the past, and the information he wants to share. LACT, LACT unit case studies, and then his tips and recommendations, wrapping this thing up at the end.

Cameron Croft:

So, Bruce, everyone kind of wants to know: why did you want to be a part of this series?

Bruce Benham:

Well, I think it's helpful, and for me the amount of time, because I am the old guy, whatever I can share that's of any value because that's not how I grew up. Most people were fairly guarded about what they do when I began in this game, and it'd be a lot easier for everybody if they can just drag information out of somebody, and I'd just like to share, if you ask me a question, I'll give you a true answer. I don't have anything to protect, and it just makes your life easier if you've got somebody... and I feel like I have enough experience to be able to offer something that's just not nonsense. It's actually applicable.

Cameron Croft:

Well then, and starting in '59, so you've seen quite a few of these downturns?

Bruce Benham:

I've seen quite a few of these. '66 was pretty bad, and obviously '74, during the whole embargo, and everybody remembers '82-83. I've never seen anything exactly like this, but they're all the same thing. Everybody suffers. I mean, it's throughout the industry when one of these happens. So I have seen where oil would go up when gas went down, and gas would go up when oil went down, and there was some balance if you were in both segments. This one's got both of them, and I haven't seen that before.

Meter Runs

Equations Behind LACT Units & Meter Runs

Cameron Croft:

Yeah, that's right. Well, I know starting off, yeah, if you want to explain a little bit of this slide to us, you're kind of telling us what were the equations behind the measurement of LACT and meter runs. Is that right?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. Typically on meter runs... So, the reason I put this in there is that in the drop, a certain amount of people that are watching have a pretty good knowledge of what's going on, but essentially what we're looking at is: this is about 300-year-old technology, as far as what we're doing. So, it's not new. The equations that we use and the principals that they're based on, certainly from the 1700s. They didn't make meter runs and stuff then, but the principles are the same. And so, there's a pressure drop, and a pressure differential, and if could be done in several different ways. I just wanted to kind of say that we're not reinventing the wheel, and it's something that we've know how to do for a long time.

Cameron Croft:

Well, and that's what, like you said, 300-year-old equations... I think I was looking up in a book, the first LACT unit was 1955.

Bruce Benham:

1955, yeah. So, that's not a new invention, either.

Cameron Croft:

No. So, meter runs and LACT units, it's not a new technology, so it's really just coming down to kind of maintaining the equipment itself, making sure it's good-quality stock, good manufacturing, and then you've got good service techs actually maintaining this equipment because I think on the dry run you were saying that... Of course, everyone agrees on what it measures. Everyone's agreeing on that, yes, that's what we're selling or that's how much oil we produce. So, I mean, there's a lot riding on is this measurement correct.

Bruce Benham:

Exactly. And so, what you have is... I mean, you have a way to populate by using some of these old, some of the things that we're doing here, for those equations and some of that that are baseline stuff. And, is that actually true? Can you get it down to a cubic foot of gas that you're actually going through there? Probably not. There are too many correction factors that are involved. But, what you can do is you can agree that, based on that, this is what's going through there, and I will pay you this amount because we both agree that's how much gas went through there, or how much oil.

Bruce Benham:

None of it is, as far as I know, unless you were to break it down molecularly, whether that's actually true or not. It may be different, but we certainly agree that that's based on what we know, and using this technology, this is how much is going through there. And, if you agree, then here are my dollars. Yeah.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah, so there's a lot riding on it, and I know... So, your first one, you're talking about meter runs, and that's how we're starting off.

Orifice Fitting Compliance

This orifice-fitting compliance, I mean, what do you mean by this? Are you just kind of going through all the compliance measurements for meter runs?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. So, what you had early on was you had profit, you had OFUs or orifice flange units that were put in there, and you put a plate in there, and some of that could have been misaligned. The sizing could have been all over the board. So, and that was the old, what's called the 85 Edition, and they improved on that. So, you had to meet certain criteria going forward, so that we could correct for, or how the flow was.

Bruce Benham:

So, like on this one, with the actual bore diameter, all the way through it, the taphole diameters, how big are they? Locations relative to the plate, the eccentricity, seat gap. There's several different things that they decided that we needed to make sure were the same throughout, and everybody complied, and that way you could agree. So, if some guy didn't have an old '85 tube and was trying to balance that against newer compliance fitting things... So, if you're going to have custody transfer, we all need to be in agreement that it's all going to be the API 14.3.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah, because that 14.3, I think that's on your next slide, and that's standard for legal obligations. So, the US custody transfer gas contracts, they demand that, right?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, this is what they're going to want. You got to build them to this, and this is what they got to... and the reason that they're doing this is just like it says. So, you're tightening all the tolerances, essentially, and you're making sure that this one is exactly like that one. And, another way you can, when you have a custody transfer, know where the cash register is, where the dollars change hands. It's as accurate as we know how to make an orifice meter.

Cameron Croft:

Okay. So, improved performance, reduced tolerances, and usage of actual dimensions resulted in improved meter accuracy. So, is that something that just improvement over the decades, we-

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly. So, like I say, back when we had the old edition where you had five foot of pipe upstream and 30 foot of pipe downstream, with a orifice flange or even an old fitting, so what we did is basically the main thing is to make sure that the bore of the orifice plate is in the center of the flow. That's called the eccentricity. You want to make sure that the gas is in the center of the pipe; it's not over to the corner or one side.

Bruce Benham:

Also, how that we can condition the flow where it's not swirling and moving in a bunch of different directions. So, either through a longer pipe, where it has time for the flow to get straightened out, or use a device that will straighten the flow out so that it hits the orifice plate at the same place every time, and the bore or the differential's going to be measured is in the center of that. Everybody can agree that that is the best place for the measurement.

Bruce Benham:

And also that the tap holes, where they're going to, whatever you're using as far as recording, whether that's an old marking meter or an EFM, that those tap holes... and we could go into why they're there... but they should be one each upstream and one each downstream with an orifice plate. So, where the differential has gone through, cone checked, and start to spread back out into the pipe or the vena contracta, that is where that flow, that pressure drop, is actually measured, and it's always the same as long as you have those locations. [inaudible 00:11:58].

Cameron Croft:

So, the 14.3, that's American Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute?

Bruce Benham:

Right, and AGA has the same part, or AGA 2000 or whichever current version that is. API has, it's basically the same thing. They both use the same thing. We used API 14.3. that's the most accepted. But, the AGA also has those same requirements.

Cameron Croft:

So, with these applications, under your next one, is orifice fitting requirements. So, I know this is something that you all as a company does, but tell us, what do you mean by "New, abrupt changes can exist inside the meter tube"? I guess because that interrupts the laminar flow?

Bruce Benham:

Exactly. So, everywhere where you weld the pipe, you can't just leave that route pass inside the pipe, because it'll disrupt the flow. And, it's also not the same size. So, when you build one, you've got to come in, you've got to grind that internal route pass out to a tolerance that's the same as the internal diameter of the pipe. In other words, it should be from the moment that it is flanged, all the way through that meter tube, until it runs into an obstruction, which would be downstream.

Bruce Benham:

Would be an obstruction, or any protrusion into the pipe bore. So, you want that flow, you want that internal diameter to be exactly the same, all the way through there, so that when you do a calculation where you make a basic orifice factor of ID plus the specific gravity, and all the other Reynold's Numbers and things that you have to do to correct for, it's always the same. That flow is all the same, all the way through, and then we-

Cameron Croft:

If a protrusion is in there and you start creating a turbulence, does that... I know there increases the probability that air might have happened to the measurement, so you could actually be giving more gas to the pipeline without truly measuring that gas?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. I mean, any time that you have a disruption, depending on what's happening, could be over-measuring, could be under-measuring, and knowing that, which one it is, is not easy to figure out. But, it will be off any time that you disrupt the flow and it hits the bore of the orifice plate off-center. Then, you've got an unaccountable error. I mean, it'll cause you a problem.

Cameron Croft:

So, there's been some changes made... Yeah, so tell us about these changes.

Bruce Benham:

Okay, so we used to, in the old... in the old '85 edition... like I say, if you have a three-inch meter run you put five foot of pipe upfront and three foot downstream, and if you add a four-inch, well that was six-foot and four-foot, and that was all. So, what they did is they did enough research on to find out that you would feed a certain length of pipe to make sure that the flow has had time to correct itself coming out of the L's, or bends, or however it gets into it.

Bruce Benham:

And, typically, 44 diameters, if you're coming off of just two L's. Now, if you're coming out of plain L's, you could be as much as much as 145 diameters a pop you would need to straighten that flow out. And, that's worst-case scenario, 145. So, 145 diameters of 10-inch pop is not going to fit on a tray, so you're going to have to correct the flow, which is where the tube bundles and flow conditioners come in. You can do that with a lot less pipe, 17 total diameters instead of 44, if you're using a flow condition; 49 diameters if you're using an old 19-tube bundle.

Cameron Croft:

That kind of goes into your next one, with the pictures here. So, the section four categories, you've got three major areas. I guess the top one is the least expensive, and it keeps getting more expensive as it goes down. Is that right?

Bruce Benham:

Sure. So, in a bar tube, again, you have this 44 diameters of upstream without using any kind of flow correction device in it, and as much as 145. So, 19-tube bundles are getting harder and harder to find. They were seven-tube bundles a long time ago. They changed it to 19-tube bundles to try to collect that flow, and all they are is just stainless steel pipe, all put together so it would flow into it and try to correct the flow. And, Gallagher is another device that does the same thing.

Cameron Croft:

Why 19? Is it just because it was a standard size for the stainless, and then they were able to fit 19 tubes in there?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly, and made... yeah. So, what it was is they thought seven would be enough to correct it, and after doing some research find out, "Well, we need more." So, it turns out 19 bundles. But, those are almost obsolete. With the flow conditioner, whether you're using an alter propeller, if you were using CPAs 50E, or... there's a couple of different folks that are out there, but those are the two basic ones, and they use velocity, as well, to correct the flow.

Bruce Benham:

And so, that flow coming from it, whether it's flange-mounted or whether it's pin-mounted inside the tube is the best way to correct the flow so that the plate with the laminar flow, and perpendicular to it. So, that... it's the way to do it and I wouldn't, if I were ordering stuff, do... I wouldn't even consider anything with a tube on it.

Bruce Benham:

Flow conditioners are cost-effective, and certainly ice has a harder time bending them. You get and bunny rabbits, and ice coming down the pipeline. They're a lot better for dealing with that than a tube bundle, where it can cave it all in, you might not know or get stopped up, and the flow rate changes and you don't really know why. So, flow conditioners are the way to go, cost-wise.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah, I think that's pretty funny when you have to do a tensile strength, and then also test it against pebbles and bunny rabbits going down the pipeline.

Bruce Benham:

And trust me, that happens. Yeah, so.

Cameron Croft:

I can only imagine how much trash actually hits that flow conditioner.

Bruce Benham:

Well, even now, when you're... with the amount of sand it takes now to open up these horizontals, you're always going to be getting sanding back.

Do Flow Conditioners Reduce Upsteam Pipe Leaks?

Cameron Croft:

Well, we actually had someone on the webinar ask a question: do flow conditioners also reduce your upstream pipe links?

Bruce Benham:

It will. The accepted here is that you have 17 total diameters of upstream pipe. CPA, out of Canada, which builds a great flow conditioner, they've tested theirs to as small as 13 diameters. That was done in Canada. Maybe a few years ago, we built a lot of them that were 13 because people were trying to save a little space, but sensors, the data doesn't recognize you, as we still build them at 17. So, that's pinned at seven. In other words, from the flow conditioner to the orifice plate that we can, and in front of that would be seven die.

Pipe Compliance

Cameron Croft:

Oh, and that's what it, kind of goes into your next one, was the pipe compliance. Is that the pipe compliance before? Is that what we were talking about? Is it the same thing? The pipe length?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. So, what you need is you certainly need seamless pipe, because you have tensile strength that you need, welded pipe which is ERW, or electronically-welded pipe. That's not going to do because they don't have the burst strength, they don't have the tensile strength for what we're talking about to reach 600 ante with 1480 pounds MAOP. So, what you look for now, and what you have to have, is any one of those A106 Grade B, cold-drawn seamless pipe.

Bruce Benham:

In other words, that pipe is, as it's cooled, it's drawn over a miter drill so that the internal diameter is exactly the same all the way through. And, you can have that honed to basically any size, but the A106 will give you strength up to six-inch into 40... it might. Six-inch is what you got to go to to get to 85, just so you get the tensile strength in, and then if you need 600. So, it is the fact that you use it, basically, that's because if the internal diameter is the same all the way through.

Cameron Croft:

Now, if you have existing meter runs on locations, is there a way to inspect, to make sure that it's still meeting those tolerances and those quality levels? You would need, I guess, an MTR beforehand to see how it was built, to see if there's any erosion or corrosion on it.

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly. So, typically, what you'd like to do is, at least every once in a while, is take that [inaudible 00:23:08] service if you're able to, and pull it apart. Clean it up, because you know it's going to be full, and we have some examples of that. It's going to get used. Unless you're just using it, unless you're type-one quality gas, where it's just methane, 98% methane going down through there, if it's... it's going to have other stuff that goes through it. You're going to carry it over water, you're going to carry it over all the... if you're using it at a battery.

Bruce Benham:

And so, take it apart, make sure that the internal diameter is still the same. It would be nice to have the MTR so you know that that's what that pipe is, because you can't tell once you've got it cleaned and in service.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah.

Bruce Benham:

So, you want to inspect it to ensure it meets those... and that's where you save money, is some kind of routine maintenance, even on a meter tube. I get that it's two dollars, a thousand, and maybe that cost is no more than you're getting. I get that, but it's still two dollars a thousand. You're not giving it away.

Cameron Croft:

That's right, that's right. And it kind of goes into the meter tolerance on the next one.

Cameron Croft:

So, you're approval is maintaining tolerance. I guess to it on mite check or pipe link diameters, making sure everything's still in good condition?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, the first thing you can do is just go out there and put a tape on it. Make sure that the pipes are long enough. You start at the orifice plate, so the center of the tap hose, from there to the upstream and there to the downstream. Just make sure that you got enough pipe to begin with? I mean, if they're built in a reputable manufacturer and you bought them in the last few years, they'll last probably okay.

Bruce Benham:

But, if you got some stuff out there that you're using as custody transfer, that maybe you just found in the back of the yard and you stuffed in there, you might want to certainly make sure that you got enough pipe left. And, you can do that without taking it apart. And, if that's correct and you want to check it, you could certainly pull out whatever device you have in it for the flow, but you're going to want to break it apart at the flange and do some internal mocking to make sure that it hasn't wall it out, yet, or it's full of pits, or there isn't a little bunny rabbit stuck in there somewhere.

Cameron Croft:

So, the ultimate goal is, like you said earlier, is you're trying to get to a laminar flow.

Bruce Benham:

Yeah.

Cameron Croft:

So, that's with a tube bundle, or the length of pipe, or the profile conditioner.

Cameron Croft:

And then it goes to the correct size of the orifice. So, in the life of a well, if you had that decline curve and then they have so much volume decline or a pressure decline over time, what will indicate to an operator that it's probably about time to change out the orifice, or there's enough air going on that something needs to change.

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. So, that blows from a... certainly don't have that, at least on most of these ones and all. I mean, it's going to fall off. Those things will, oh yeah, and there's no secondary, tertiary stimulation that you can do for them, at least in [inaudible 00:26:46]. So yeah, it's going to start to go down, and once the thing gets out of good range on whatever you're using as a recording device... I think most everybody's using something electronic, maybe like, I get that far.

Bruce Benham:

And, if you've got a 200-inch device and you've been running 150, and now all of a sudden it's down at 50 inches or something like that, and the pressure's starting to dropdown. Certainly, you're going to want to change the plate, but you've got to stay within.

Bruce Benham:

That's the one thing I... because you had so much room within these transducer... you have to stay within some kind of beta ratio: in other words, a ratio of the type to the bore, the orifice plate, and you want to try to keep that at about 0.6 or 0.7, because it's better accuracy if you keep that beta ratio where it belongs. Now, keeping a beta ratio in the thing won't even register on the recording device. They may have to drop down if you've got a six-inch in there you may have to go to a three-inch. You know what I mean?

Cameron Croft:

So, there's a turndown rate from each side.

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, just because you have a long-range of zero to 250, or zero to 800 DP on there doesn't mean that you can still record that accurately.

Cameron Croft:

Well, I imagine most manufacturers, if you can just reach out to them, they'll kind of give you that knowledge, but is that something Fleaux Services will do if they say, "This is my new flow, this is what we're seeing out here. Is this the right size?"

Bruce Benham:

Exactly. We can do that calculation for you, let you know whether you're staying within that beta ratio, and maybe you could... and that's what it's going to take: "Here's what my flow was when we put it in, this is what we're at now, and still we've got 10 of these, and laterals over here, and when they get to the master reader, well, we've got all this unaccountable. We can certainly help you figure out at least where you may be making a mistake, yeah.

Cameron Croft:

Well, we have one client right now that has, they've put an initiative together to, during this downtime, to kind of get their house in order, so they're actually, one of their initiatives is they're pushing their lease operators and pumpers, engagers, to check everything, to go do their LACT units and meter runs, and then trying to make sure that everything that they're selling is actually selling. Squeeze any dollar they can out of this thing. So, that's something that they could shift that over to you all, and you all can say you all's recommendations, of, "Yeah, you're in good order," or, "No, you need to start changing something."

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly. And you'd have to see what it is, and there are a hundred different things that can happen, and these guys, I'm sure, know all that. Maybe you've got a little spot on the line somewhere and you need to pick that out, and things are backing up, or the separator's, that doesn't work very well, or blah-blah-blah. I mean, there's a hundred different things that can happen.

Meter Run Problems to Avoid

Cameron Croft:

Well, that kind of goes into your next one, is if they're already out there and they're getting these... Now, you've put a series of pictures that you shift over. This is what they should be looking out for also, right?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly. So, on a couple of these, when we look at these, you've got these filthy and coated with a lot of salt on the flow conditioners. The other ones are just pitting it, and what can happen to the pipe is if you got CO2, H2S, and water going all through there, then you got carbonic acid and they're going to start chewing things up.

Cameron Croft:

Right.

Bruce Benham:

They'll start pitting pieces together. Maybe somebody bumped into it with their pickup and put a dent in it. I mean, I don't know what could... I mean, I've seen a lot of weird stuff. But, what you want to do I take it apart and see what the internals look like. I mean, you can see that in a lot of this there's a lot of pitting just because of the water, or carbonic, or combination thereof. And, once you pit those, from that point you're losing, actually, in your measurement. And, if someone goes out looking for a leak or something like that when it's all in here. And, you don't want to get caught up in testing a bunch of those.

Cameron Croft:

Oh, and the next one also... So, the one on the left, explain what this was.

Bruce Benham:

What it was was a... we didn't do this, so let me start there.

Cameron Croft:

Disclaimer.

Bruce Benham:

A disclaimer. Apparently, when they were putting the CPA over the profile or whatever flow conditioner, it didn't quite fit so we sort of hammered it in there, and it just caught the edge of that flange and dug out a little groove, and pushed it all up against the side there. But, it got hammered into position. That flow conditioner shouldn't fit in there, whether it's Schedule 40, Schedule A. It's designed to fit inside, and if it doesn't you need to find out what's wrong with the flange. Which means you should be micing the flanges as well as the pipe.

Cameron Croft:

That's right. On the right-hand side, is that the 192s?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. That's what I was saying. Stuff will get in there, and the first thing that's going to give is the easiest thing to clog up or bend up, or a chunk of ice, and that certainly happens with a huge pressure drop somewhere. I know you create ice, you got... whether you have free water or whether you have entrained water turn into ice, and a big ice flow comes in... They're hard, so find pressure.

Cameron Croft:

Yes.

Bruce Benham:

I'd say 200 pounds. They will start tearing stuff up.

Cameron Croft:

So, you've all seen hydrate formations just start pinging and locking in?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. Yeah, so you're going to have that, and they're going to beat stuff up, and so you have to, if you've got ice problems or if you've got weird pings... I don't know. People that are taking care of that, at least, probably want to take a look at things like the CPA, or if you have tube bundle, or something in there. And certainly the orifice plate, I mean, orifice plate's a pretty common problem anymore. Always have been, so if you can't get the plate out because you got a little bow in it from ice getting in it, guarantee, if you've got a flow conditioner in there that's tore up, too.

Cameron Croft:

Okay. So, furthermore, if you're having to change out the orifice because it's been up, you might as well just start looking at the profile or-

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, I'd start breaking it apart, yeah.

Cameron Croft:

And in your next set of pictures-

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, these are showing you, like I say, the first one is some bend there. I mean, that's not how it came. Something ran into it, so it put a big knot in the middle. So, that's not even close to intolerance in that place. I mean, the ID has been altered. The pitting on the second one from salt and no telling what-all has pitted that pipe up to where that's no good. Scale and rust buildup, as you carry over water, and that's going to happen to all of them. Well, that's going to affect your measurement, and if you're looking at that and it's all clean, then start looking for the leaks in all the other things that you might to find your own accountable. But, the first thing is is start at the primary device that measures the gas, and make sure that's good. Then, you work your way downstream to wherever the problem might exist.

Cameron Croft:

Well, that kind of goes into the grandfather theory: just because you have stuff that's out there... and like you said, it's old technology. There have not been too many technological advancements to it, but like from the pictures you were showing before, I mean, things can be so tore up. There's a probability that you might be underselling or overselling-

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, that's what happened if you had some... I mean, there are older fathering systems and stuff that are out there, that have been for a while, and they've been altered or been moved around, or it came from this old location that we closed in and we moved it over here to this one. Or, they just haven't been there. Because of the grandfather, if you had an old and it was incented then you get to keep it there. You don't have to... unless your contract says you've got to change it out. But, if they're in there they're in there, and if they've been in there very long there's probably something wrong with it.

Bruce Benham:

Now, again, we're talking about saving money, and I get that part and how you do that. But, cost of if you've got a 7% or 8% unaccountable on the whole system, or 2% or 5% unaccountable, that more than paid for a couple of new meter runs to correct that, if that's the problem.

Cameron Croft:

That's right.

Bruce Benham:

If you've got this old grandfathered stuff. So, you've actually saved money by buying something new, depending on the percentage, the amount accountable, and how much gas you go through the system.

LACT Units

Cameron Croft:

Well, that kind of ends the meter runs, but the LACT units, yeah. So, explain to us a LACT unit.

Bruce Benham:

Okay. So, in the way that a meter tube measures gas, a LACT unit is exactly the same thing, in that it measures oil. We've been building those things since '55. They basically all do the same thing. They have some way to determine the BS&W, or the base sediment and water. You've got a device to create a better flow rate, which is just a mechanical straightening bay so that you could take the sample. It's measured through... Coriolis is the most predominant, but you have PD meters, or you've got turbine meters, or... there have been several different ways of doing it. Currently, right now, Coriolis is the way to do it. Their technology, their software, their voodoo is better than an old PD meter in accuracy.

Bruce Benham:

Then, you've got to have a way to test that, which is a proving loop, some way to hold some back pressure against it, and then sell it. Then, you have a pot that takes a sample, and that way you can come dip into the hole, take a drop in a hydrometer, and check out the gravity, and see what you got. That hasn't changed. That's always been the basic componentry that measures all.

Cameron Croft:

On that note, measuring oil: so, again, since your years of experiencing in LACT units, I mean, you've seen some custody issues, right? I mean, everyone's agreeing that this is how much oil we're selling, so I can only imagine some landowners are, they might feel like they're getting gypped, or some royalty owners, or... how is that?

Bruce Benham:

You have in Eagleford, particularly, that is real LACT crude. It's a condensate. It has a lot of light ends, it's latched off. It's hard to control because of the vapor pressure, so you-

Cameron Croft:

That's your case study right here. This is what you're talking about, right?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah. So, you can't really catch that in a pot, so what you're looking for is a proportional composite sample on something as light as that is, is the best way to do that, so that you don't get in an argument over what flashed off and what remained. Back in the old days, we used to flash off all the lights so that we could find out what 26-pound gasoline was. I won't go into that, 1960s, in great detail. But, that's typically how it was done back in the day.

Bruce Benham:

So, you want to be sure that... and the landowner wants to get paid, and the royalty owner. Everybody wants to get paid for what's actually coming out, and if it sets in the, even in a pot, with the kind of vapor pressure, it's on some of that really LACT crude, it's going to vent off and it's not as accurate as trying to catch that in a proportional and composite sampler. I think you don't need that everywhere, certainly in medium crude. Certainly, heavy crude, obviously not. But, in real LACT stuff, like you have condensates that you have in south Texas, particularly, most people are trying to put a composite sampler on.

Cameron Croft:

So, if I like crude I guess the meter says that they sell 50 barrels, but then after it starts flashing off, it might only have 25 barrels in the tank?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly, and it's certainly not component-wise what they're hoping that that is, because there's so much that you can do with that. Although we don't have any LACT crude refineries, there's a lot that you can do with that condensate that comes out there.

Cameron Croft:

So, that YZ sampler on the right-hand side, what does that do?

Bruce Benham:

So, what that is, that would be a five-gallon pot that keeps it under the pressure that it's caught in, and it inputs a proportional to the flow into a cylinder that's attached to it, and that cylinder, once it's completed that monthly run or whatever, then you can send it into a chromatography on that liquid sample and tell you all the componentry is in that.

Cameron Croft:

Okay. So, at that point, then you can go back to these landowners or someone that says there's a discrepancy, and you can say, "Look: based on this, the calculation, this much is going to flash off."

Bruce Benham:

Good, yeah. You'd know what you have. You'd have exactly what went through. Depending on what the contract is, how that's written, I mean there's a jillion different ways that contracts are... some people don't care, but if they do and the contract's written in a way, this is the way to get exactly what it is that you're selling.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah, we actually have one client right now that, with the summer and the heat, the temperature rising, he's actually... I guess everyone's penny-pinching, but I thought it was kind of ingenuity on his side. He's increased his pickup times because he understands he has light crew, he understands the temperatures, and he's trying to sell as much as he can. So, he actually increased, he ran the economics on the truckers and said, "I need to increase my pickup time, my intervals."

Bruce Benham:

Yep. Well, I mean, everybody in this environment... and we should all the time. I mean, it wouldn't matter if it's $3 a barrel or $100 a barrel: we ought to want whatever it is that we've got. We should care about what the makeup is and the volume is, no matter what the cost is.

Proper Sizing of LACT Units

Bruce Benham:

So, here's what happened. So, you've got a three-well patch, say, in the of Delaware, or wherever in this play, and your current thing is we're going to put "This is a three-well pad," and each on of them is going to have, "We're going to make 1200, or we're going to make 2500, or we're going to make 32 of your XDO, 100 barrels a day, and it's all going to go into this TN12 tank battery. We need a LACT sized for that." And that's all good, based on what they've told you, and you can do that, but again, it's a whole field. That may or may not be what they actually produce.

Bruce Benham:

You may decide that a couple of them play out pretty quick, or you have another patch you want to bring into that location, that maybe you thought was just going to be a couple wells a day. At any rate, that's going to change. It's going to be up or down, and LACTs are, at least, certainly the charge pumps, the Coriolis, they don't allow a lot of leeway in body. And, be accurate. You might be able to change out an impeller in a pump, you might be able to do a couple of things. But, typically, they need to pretty well be sized for the flow, and you've got to be pretty accurate. You can't just say, "Well, it's going to be 5000 barrels a day, but it could be 12,000 barrels." Well, which is it? Because one ain't going to fit both.

Cameron Croft:

Well, and that's one of the instances that we're seeing right now, is with the market the way it is, not everyone's going to be... they can be kind of cautious about drilling the new wells on that field. So, there might be some decline, where they have an existing LACT unit, and it's not having that turndown rate.

Bruce Benham:

Yeah.

Cameron Croft:

So, if the pumps has that on/off, what would you do? Do you need a whole new LACT unit, or what would be the things that you would look for to upgrade that in it?

Bruce Benham:

I mean, there's probably a couple of ways you can do it. I mean, say you had a three-inch LACT with a three-inch Coriolis, and it was based on 6000 barrels a day, or whatever. You could certainly replace, drop that Coriolis down to a two-inch, if the flow is declined. You could put some eccentric reducers on there and drop that down into a size. Now you've got a lot of money in Coriolis, I get that part. A simple fix, not so much. You could change the impellar. You could put a variable speed drive on them. They're fairly expensive, as well... to try to control it.

Bruce Benham:

But, you've got to try to figure out either where you kick it on and kick it off, based on the tank and how much that's going to pull off. In other words, if you have that tank set where it comes on and runs X til it gets down to four foot or whatever you're talking about, then you're not getting as much onto the tank. Maybe that timing of when you pull it off, when you shut it off is going to have to change. So, if you've got a full flow, something that you don't have a cavitation or that you're starving it one way or another.

Bruce Benham:

So, there are a couple of things that you can do just in controlling how much gets to it. It runs once a day, is all it ever runs when it was running all the time prior, and you could be. You could make some... but if it just keeps falling off, falling off, you may have to get yourself another LACT and move this one to the next new location.

When to Replace Your LACT Unit

Bruce Benham:

It's time to do something. Yeah. If you're not going to start... my crystal ball's not real clear, but I don't see anybody drilling a lot of wells over the next week or two. So, they're probably not adding. And so, you're going to get to a point. I mean, the typical life of these wells, I think everybody understands the life of these 7500 or 15,000-foot laterals. They are what they are: five, seven years, whatever that is. But, there's a falloff, and you may get yourself to the point where you're just going to have to bite the bullet. You can like to be able to slow everything down as much as you can, but if you don't do a bunch of that when you start in the pump, or you start air-locking it, your measurement's so bad it's worth finding another unit.

Cameron Croft:

Well, that kind of goes into the good tips you have for LACT units. So, when you said fail-safe and tamper-proof. I guess you're saying that's what everyone's consenting, that that's the way the measurements... So, if you're going out there and all the lockouts are messed with, I think everyone's going to get kind of pissy about that.

Bruce Benham:

Not everybody's going to love that and a bunch of those guys are not going to be happy about all that. So, rejects and that kind of stuff, you can't stand a whole bunch of that. So, typically, you're looking for a way to have all the valves where they're lockable. Used to, we had to drill and put tamper-proof seals on flanges, that kind of stuff. But, you need them tamper-proof and recognizable that they've been messed with. So, you want to have them to be sure no one's messing with them.

Cameron Croft:

Well, especially with these prices right now, everyone's kind of have that built-up anxiety. They're not getting the mailbox money as much. I think I could potentially, if they go out there they want to run their own audit and they're finding things that are not properly locked out, that trust factor will not be there.

Bruce Benham:

Trust factor goes bad and then, yeah, exactly. And so, you don't want them out there at, you know, every week. Somebody standing around while you're trying to sell or dealing with that kind of stuff. So, it's best to have it where it's a system that you know is tamper-proof, and you want to have it to where it's well-built, doesn't leak. I mean, they're all going to leak some, they just got a hole going through it. But, at least it's small, it's containable, it's cleaned up so it doesn't look like a mess. You want to be sure you're on top of all the flanges, and the bundles, and that kind of stuff: make sure that none of that's leaking.

Cameron Croft:

So, I guess when these lease operators, pumper gaugers are making their rounds they need to be checking for leaks, checking that nothing's broken, everything's still in good condition?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, exactly. If your containment gets full of oil whether you're doing that, you probably want to pay attention to them, and that can happen through the pump, the seal. Certainly those leaks. I mean, it's common: they're going to wear out, they're going to leak. That's all part of the game. There's no such thing as a seal that's not eventually going to leak or the pumps run-up. So, you need routine maintenance and you need someone that can take care of that for you if you don't want to do it yourself.

Bruce Benham:

But, seals are going to leak. That's just part of it. You're going to have your little 3/4 horse motors. They start to leak, could have leaks in them. You could have... because they vibrate a lot. So, there's a lot of stainless tubing on there. You need to make sure that they stay tight with them.

Cameron Croft:

That's right.

Bruce Benham:

I mean, a LACT is a high-maintenance... not as high-maintenance as some other stuff, but it requires maintenance. It just rattles it. It's just got some maintenance involved in it.

Cameron Croft:

Well, I mean, it's like filling up your vehicle. If you think that meter is not telling you right, you almost doubled the assize that you have to pay out, I think everyone's going to get pretty upset about that.

Bruce Benham:

Everybody's going to get a little bit worked up, but routine maintenance is... You hate to do it because the cost is what it is and we're trying to save dollars, and I get all that, but it's probably the cheapest dollars that you spend and just staying on top of.

Cameron Croft:

So, this kind of wraps up your good tips. I mean, again, meter runs and LACT units, that's your primary measurement. That's what everyone's agreeing on what you're selling, so that way everyone can get paid.

Proving LACT Units

Cameron Croft:

So, these tips right here, you have proof LACT units monthly? Is that right?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, I don't think everybody does so. You don't have a proving unit come out. You've got to prove that measurement device whatever you use: your PD, your Coriolis, your terminal- whatever. You need that proved, and make sure that it's repeatable, and make sure that it's repeatable, and make sure it's within the custody transfer tolerance of 1%. So, you want to evaluate the volumes, like we're talking about, to see where you're at if you need to correct the sizing that's one way or another, so you know where you're at. You're not just losing it through negligence.

Bruce Benham:

And, on meter runs, there may be semiannual. That's typically by contract. Could be semi, could be annual, could be monthly. But, you need those recording devices, whatever you're using, and the plate inspections and all that. Certainly, somebody's got to do that quarterly, or whatever the contract calls for.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah, based on those pictures. I mean, you've got to inspect it internally.

Bruce Benham:

You need to tke a look at that once a year, at least. I mean, break that thing down and take a look. Make sure. Because, somebody comes out and calibrates their recording password, whether that's an internal guy or they have a third party. But, the recording device only tells you what it sees. It doesn't tell you whether it's correct. In other words, it doesn't tell you if the plates band, or the CPA stopped up, or there's rust or scale inside. It's only a recording device of what's happening.

Cameron Croft:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bruce Benham:

So, yeah, the recording device works, but does your meter tube work, I mean, I guess is what I'm saying. That's the primary element, and we want to make sure that that's correct.

Conclusion/ Q&A

Cameron Croft:

That's right. Well, wrapping this up right quick, we do have a Q&A section at the end, but the upcoming webinars, we have my director of engineering. Chris Smithson's going to be talking about JTs, or Joule-Thomson systems and fuel gas applications. Then, we also have Chris Crow, with Pristine Alliance, talking about burner management and maintenance. Now, if you're interested in being a webinar speaker or know of someone that is a subject matter expert and you think would be a good fit, please do reach out to us. We want to share that knowledge with everybody. So, you can reach out to the email below, [email protected]

Cameron Croft:

And, if you're interested in processing webinar or a training conducted at your company, either with Croft or with Fleaux Services, you have specific questions for you and your engineer team, field technicians, please don't hesitate. Reach out to us again, at tori.valigura. That way, we can do a Zoom call... everyone's kind of locked up right now. Or, we could try to get to a location and make sure we PPE up.

Cameron Croft:

Now, we do have a survey at the end, so again, I'm Six Sigma, so I really love feedback, making sure that this information is coming to you all clearly. Please fill out that survey so that way you can get a free hat or shirt, but then that also improves, makes sure that these webinars keep getting better and better. So, the Q&A section right now, we got Bruce and my information below, so if you don't have a question right now, please do reach out to us. We'll get your questions.

Cameron Croft:

As of right now, there are no questions in the section, so we're going to wait a couple of minutes. But, there is actually a... I'm trying to figure out... there's one question I had for you earlier. So, the profiler: if the profiler is damaged, you see that you're taking out the orifice and you put in a profile, if it's machined in a certain way how do you go about trying to get a replacement for that profiler?

Bruce Benham:

There's only a couple of different manufacturers that you probably want to deal with. So, you want to know what you have. If you're using... and they're typically stamped. If you have a CPA brand, Canadian Pipeline Associates, they have that brand, it'll be stamped on there. Which, you can certainly call us and tell us what you got, and we'll get you one coming. They're interchangeable. One's not... if you've got something in there that you want, just tell me the size and the schedule, and we can probably get you something that'll work out.

Cameron Croft:

All right.

Bruce Benham:

And once it's torn up, it's torn up. You can't just take a file and kind of clean up the edges of it. There is a really intricate manufacturing process to make those work.

Cameron Croft:

Okay. Well, we do have someone from the webinar that asked another question. They said, "What is the highest inch of water device you can use to measure zero, to 400, to 800? Will changing the DP measurement device allow you to measure a higher gas rate if you stay within 0.6 beta without changing the meter run?

Bruce Benham:

Yep, and they are right about that. If you feel that's, to stay within their ratio, it's not always just the plate to pipe sizing. You can change the DP, the differential range, to keep it within that. So, if you want to go up to stay within that 6.7 or 7.5, wherever you want, you certainly can. Go to a 1500 DP, go to an 800 if you've got a 400, and that will keep you within that beta ratio, by changing the range of the differential, certainly.

Cameron Croft:

All right. Well, there's no more questions, but the big followup is a lot of people have these initiatives with LACT units, meter runs. If they run into any of these issues they can get ahold of you at Fleaux Services. And, what would be the best way to get ahold of you? I mean, you can get ahold through Croft, but would LinkedIn or just reaching out to Fleaux would be best?

Bruce Benham:

Yeah, I'd just reach out to Fleaux. We have a facility here in Midland. That's where I'm at, and I have that number. You call me on the cellphone, which should be provided on the LinkedIn page, or whatever that number is, or I'll get to you, yeah. But, if you call the Midland office... you can certainly call the Shreveport office, have a [inaudible 01:01:15]. So, if you go to Fleaux.com, you'll find all our facilities, and where we're at, and all that info. It's available there.

Cameron Croft:

Perfect. Well Bruce, thank you very much for coming on and talking with us, and educating us a little bit. We need all the help we can get.

Bruce Benham:

Well, I appreciate you doing this, Cameron. It's very kind of you to invite me, and I hope it was worth doing. I mean, certainly was for me. I hope somebody got something out of it. But, I certainly enjoyed it. It was very kind of you.

Cameron Croft:

Absolutely, Bruce. Well, you take care; and you can get ahold of us in the beginning, and then this video will be uploaded to our blog. So, take care, everybody.

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