Oil field automation

Do you think that hand dipping tanks in the oil fields is needed to protect investors? Or would automation be better to protect both investors and oil field workers? Here is an NPR article about the topic.

  • I too heard this same story. I was quite shocked that the BLM believes that an operator with a rope provides a better, and more consistent measurement for level than existing technologies. This mindset is 30 years out of date. The uncertainty associated with a rope, visual measurement is many times greater than any electronic measurement. The improvements in fiscal accountability, and elimination of inhalation hazards to personnel, make this application well suited to improved instrumentation. I think this is a great opportunity for Rosemount Level to educate the BLM on what is possible with our products.

    Dave Kuhny  |  Measurement Technology Test Group Manager |  Micro Motion Inc. 

    Emerson Process Management 

  • In reply to dkuhny:

    I agree and with wireless level instruments, adding these tank level measurements is much more doable than may have been previously possible.
  • In reply to dkuhny:

    Dave, I am getting a similar query here on automating the tank measurement. The funny part is the radar is installed still the measurement is taken by means of rope to validate radar readings. I am looking for some kind of easier solution to this.
  • In reply to anand vidhate:

    Dave, Anand,

    Manual gauging of production tanks is a dangerous operation. This has recently been highlighted in a Hazardous Alert (HA3843) issued by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Nine oil worker fatalities related to manual gauging or sampling of production tanks has been identified by OSHA during 2010-2014. The workers have been exposed to extensive amounts of toxic hydrocarbons when thief hatches has been opened for manual gauging.

    Automated Tank Gauging (ATG) is a viable option to keep workers safe on the ground and thief hatches closed in line with OSHA’s recommendations. Currently there is no standard that supports cost effective ATG on smaller production tanks (<1000bbl) as the existing standard API18.1 only covers manual gauging for custody transfer while API3.1B covers automated tank gauging for custody transfer in inventory storage tanks (>1000bbl). Transmitters used for custody transfer according to API 3.1B is a non-viable option for small production tanks as the cost would be too high.

    However, there is a new standard in writing, API18.2, which allows automated tank gauging to be used for custody transfer on production tanks. API 18.2 will most probably be released before summer. The accuracy requirements in API 18.2 are has been adapted for small production tanks and are in correlation to what’s already installed in field, where thousands of radars have been used for level monitoring, overfill prevention and truck scheduling for years. Operators with existing radar level measurement can immediately start to adopt the new standard, relying on their radar level measurements for custody transfer, as long as they can prove the accuracy of the instruments. As with all instrumentation used for custody transfer, the radar level transmitter accuracy must be verified periodically.

    From Rosemount Level we have closely monitored the development of API18.2 and in parallel we have developed best practices and tools for easy compliance to the radar accuracy verification requirements. The verification of radar accuracy can be done in just a few minutes and does not require the thief hatch to be opened or any product to be transferred. The tool used for verification, Rosemount VeriCase, is capable of a 5-point accuracy verification of Rosemount 3308 Series and Rosemount 5300 Series Guided Wave Radar Level & Interface transmitters.

    With the update of the 27 year old revision of BLM Onshore Order 4, expected to pass this summer, we have a possibility to have automated tank gauging approved for fiscal metering also on federal land and be assured that we have been working to educate BLM of the capabilities of our instruments as well as providing comments to the draft during the comment period to make this happen. Also, in close cooperation with a customer, we have provided BLM with field data from thousands of Guided Wave Radars that has been sampled since 2012 and where the accuracy has been verified periodically using VeriCase.

    Christoffer Widahl | Sr. Strategic Product Manager, Level | Rosemount Measurement

    Emerson Process Management


  • The notion that "sticking" or hand dipping a tank is more "accurate" that a measurement made with a level instrument is rampant in industry, not just O&G. I have personal experience with a site that invested $$$ to install Foundation Fieldbus (at the time) Saab radar gauges and hosted by a DeltaV, their "standards" still called out hand dipping as the approved method of taking inventory ...