3 Apr, 2017

Finding Opportunities Checklist

This Tip of the Month (TOTM) discusses places to look for opportunities to increase production quickly. I’ll discuss the concepts, techniques, and later where to look for and find opportunities….to be able to answer the Key Question: “Are we getting the most from our Asset?”

►Do you know how your asset makes money?  Is it simply oil price, and gas price? 

►Do the prices of oil and gas change daily? 

►Do you adjust your operating conditions based on the prices of oil and gas?

►Does fuel gas have any value?


Benchmarking Against PhysicsTM

What are your process Key Performance Indicators?

Energy Consumed per boe (barrel of oil equivalent) produced?

►Theoretical Energy Required per boe produced?

►Design Energy required per boe produced?


Where are there gaps?

How do you evaluate the performance of your:

  • Pumps
  • Compressors
  • Processes
    • Oil / Water Dehydration
    • Gas Dehydration
    • Gas Treating


Figure 1: Technical Limit Diagram or Choke Model

Looking at the Technical Limit Diagram (Choke Model) shown in Figure 1, where could there be opportunities?

  • How can we use the current equipment to increase production?
  • What’s the cost of one day of downtime?
  • What’s the monetary value of the annual flare volume?
  • How can we increase inflow from the wells to increase production?
    • Can we reduce the inlet pressures to the facilities to increase reservoir inflow?
    • Are we holding backpressure on the facilities, or are we floating the sales gas pipeline?
    • Are there any excessive pressure drops in the flowlines/equipment?
    • Scale
    • Remove choke internals



  • Energy Efficiency:
  • What’s the position of the recycle valve? Are you wasting energy?
  • Reciprocating: Adjust Pockets / re-cylinder
  • Centrifugal: Consider re-wheeling
  • Can you reduce the suction temperature of the compressors to increase available HP
  • Infinite Recycling of LPG
    • Is this occurring in your compression system?
  • What’s causing downtime of your machines?
  • Could your upstream separators be carrying over liquids?


Heat Exchangers

  • Have the overall heat transfer coefficients become lower?
  • Have the pressure drops increased?



  •  What’s the position of your centrifugal pump discharge control valve?
    • Do you have too much HP, consider re-wheeling
  • Are you shearing and creating a lot of emulsion requiring higher chemical costs?



  • Challenge sales specifications.
    • Are we over treating?
    • How’s our crude vapor pressure (RVP)?
  • Are we over stabilizing?
    • How’s our crude BS&W?
  • Are we over treating?


Reduce OPEX

  • Chemical Costs: Demulsifier
    • Are we over dosing?
    • Are we adjusting the chemical injection rate base on changes in the inlet gross rate?
    • Have we done a “shootout” with other vendors, and allowed treating to failure point?
    • Are there recycle streams we can eliminate from the process and treat separately?
    • Do we have an OPEX model?
  • Have we identified our fixed and variable costs?
  • What’s the cost of fuel?  Is fuel free?
  • What’s the cost of flaring?
  • Are there operating cost differences between “A crew” and “B crew”?
    • Set up a competition between “A crew” and “B crew”.  Bbls produced, $ energy used per bbl, $ gas flared/bbl



  • How many times have we repaired this pump this year? Or over its life to date?
  • What’s the cost of downtime in $/hr?  How many $ in revenue has we lost this quarter?
  • How long does it take to repair?  Do we need a new seal design?  More spare parts?


Capital Projects

What could we add to increase production?

  • Is inlet compression profitable? (Lease / Purchase)



Is the flare smokey?

  • This means its rich gas containing propane / butanes worth more than methane.  It’s a place to look for process changes to prevent the loss of these higher valued components.



  • What’s the effect of increasing the tubing size?
  • What’s the effect of optimizing the gas lift?
  • Do all injection wells need the same maximum pressure for gas lift or water injection? Can we segregate the system?
  • Do the wells need stimulation?
  • Do the wells need water shutoff?
  • Manifolds – Are there leaking check valves allowing backflow from an HP well into an LP well?


Case 1: Different Molecules have different values in the Gas and Oil.  Are you maximizing the value of your products?

Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, some contracts allow higher vapor pressure in the sales crude oil during the winter months.

KEY QUESTION: How can you take advantage of this opportunity?

Generally, selling molecules as oil has been more valuable than selling the molecules as gas.  So how can you send more of smaller LPG molecules into the sales crude oil to increase the number of crude oil barrels sold?

As you learned about vapor pressure and phase diagrams in G4 (Gas Conditioning and Processing course) you simply have to increase the pressure of the final separation, and decrease its temperature.  In winter months by lowering the oil dehydration train temperature, and increasing its pressure you increase the vapor pressure in the sales oil tank, and increase the number of barrels sold.  You can generate millions of dollars per year, by simply adjusting a temperature control setpoint and a pressure control setpoint. For Zero CAPEX.

Case 2: High Gas Prices

For a short period in 2000 a unique opportunity presented itself.  Gas Prices Spiked!

KEY QUESTION: How do we take advantage of this opportunity?

Simply send your molecules into the gas sales by dropping the oil dehydration treater pressure and raising its temperature.  Many Operators in the GOM took advantage of this opportunity. Some just sat and watched!

To learn more about similar cases and how to minimize operational problems, we suggest attending our G4 (Gas Conditioning and Processing), G5 (Advanced Applications in Gas Processing), PF3 (Concept Selection and Specification of Production Facilities in Field Development Projects), and PF49 (Troubleshooting Oil & Gas Processing Facilities), courses.

PetroSkills offers consulting expertise on this subject and many others. For more information about these services, visit our website at petroskills.com/consulting, or email us at consulting@PetroSkills.com.

By: James F Langer, P.E.