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Steady Future for Gas Flow Measurement in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry

Let’s face it, 2020 was a volatile year with sinking gas prices. The impact of the collective investor heart attack is not lost on anyone when we awoke to see negative gas prices in the spring of 2020. Over a year later, we have seen prices increase steadily and encountered changes in regulations that will shape the role of flow meters in the oil and gas market.

2021 Outlook

The EIA expected demand to rise, but global inventories to fall in first half of 2021.  Entering the second half of 2021, the fate of the oil and gas market depends heavily on future production decisions by key global players, the pace of oil demand growth, timidity due to surges in COVID variants, and other factors.

Flow measurement’s opportunity for market growth will likely keep pace with the oil and gas market as flow meters are still necessary for regulatory compliance and allocation.

The Need for Flow Meters

As we see the gas demand picking back up and people returning to work, the oil and gas industry will work to meet the demand. Historically, the oil and gas industry has been quick to pivot during unpredictable market conditions.

In North America, the EPA will play a continued role that will impact the oil and gas industry. Consequently, that impact will filter down to the flow measurement market. Recent activity in the U.S. Congress to pass measures restoring methane regulations coupled with the U.S. President’s Executive Order reinstating Quad O (40CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO) to pre-Trump standards will reinvigorate EPA’s authority to demand that the oil and gas industry report emissions. Accurate flow measurement equipment will be needed in these challenging applications.

4 Regulatory Examples

Let’s explore 4 regulations we predict will affect the gas flow meter oil and gas market in the U.S. in 2021:

  1. EPA 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO
    • The “quad O” regulation has methane back on the menu and has re-instituted the regulation of methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources.
  2. EPA 40 CFR Part 98 Subpart W
    • Reporting requirements for the petroleum and natural gas industry. It covers both onshore and offshore petroleum and natural gas production facilities.
  3. California Assembly Bill 32
    • Setting and achieving a GHG emission cap by 2020. This bill covers multiple angles including cap and trade, renewables, equipment efficiency improvements, etc.
  4. BLM 3175
    • When the oil and gas industry began pulling petroleum out of the ground from leases on Federal and Indian land, the U.S. department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had to ensure that they addressed rules to maintain transparency on the program. The rule covers:
      • Gas meter technologies
      • Requirements for hardware and software used on metering equipment
      • Requirements for recordkeeping and reporting
      • Establishes overall measurement performance standards
      • Includes a mechanism for the BLM to review, and approve for use, new gas measurement technology and systems nation-wide

5 Big Challenges for Gas Flow Measurement in Oil and Gas

When it comes to the oil and gas industry, there are many challenges. Fox Thermal has solutions:

  1. Challenge:
    • Wellhead locations are often in remote areas and need reliable equipment and devices
      • Operation reliability is key for a flow meter in these remote locations
    • Fox Solution:
      • The rugged thermal mass flow meter line from Fox offers great reliability
  2. Challenge:
    • Ease of use
      • The flow meter must be easy to install and easy to operate. Operators do not want to have to use multiple devices for temperature and pressure to calculate flow. One device is best.
    • Fox Solution:
      • Mass flow meters from Fox require no additional calculations for temperature or pressure.
      • CAL-V calibration validation feature allows for in-situ calibration validation
      • FT View software allows the user to connect to a laptop with free software and a standard USB cable… no need for special handheld devices or modems.
  3. Challenge:
    • Data logging
      • A flow meter with electronics capable of measuring current flow and storage of flow totals over time is essential
    • Fox Solution:
      • The model FT4X has an advanced data logger with 40 24-hour totals, settable Contract Time, time/date stamped alarm and event logs, and a power off totalizer.
  4. Challenge:
    • Changing gas compositions in flare gas
      • Flare gas components vary over time and a flow meter requiring frequent factory calibrations is not ideal for this application
    • Fox Solution:
      • Gas-SelectX® allows users to set the gas composition in the meter’s settings without having to send the flow meter back to the factory for recalibration.
      • CAL-V calibration validation is an in-situ test that ensures that the meter still retains its original NIST-traceable calibration.
  5. Challenge:
    • Flare gas accuracy at very low flows and during upset conditions
      • Some technologies operate very well at low flows or high flows, but there are only a few technologies that operate well at both.
    • Fox Solution:
      • Fox Thermal’s mass flow meters have a wide turndown of up to 1000:1, with 100:1 being typical.

Fox Thermal recommends the FT4 series of flow meters for flare gas, vent gas, and methane flow measurement. Contact one of our experts to find out more and get a free quote!

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