Case Study

NEL: Using Data to Enhance Accuracy

Posted on May 17, 2017

NEL, which started as a UK Government Laboratory based in East Kilbride over sixty years ago, is a centre of excellence for flow measurement and fluid flow systems and is the UK’s National Measurement Institute responsible for flow measurement standards.

Ultimately, NEL is a research, test and calibration laboratory with data and analysis as the key outcomes. NEL employs 85 specialists and carries out research and technology development that is particularly pertinent to finding solutions in the oil and gas sector but also relevant to industries spanning nuclear, pharmaceutical, utilities, renewables and life sciences.

NEL is undertaking a project with The Data Lab, and Robert Gordon University to develop state-of-the-art data mining software tools to monitor ongoing performance and trends in flow management.

The work with The Data Lab came about as a collaborative venture with common aims to help industry develop technology and advance scientific knowledge.

NEL approached The Data Lab to support its data project after identifying it as an organisation that could further these aims. The Data Lab then facilitated an academic partnership with Robert Gordon University, which combined the university’s data science expertise with NEL’s flow measurement capability. The Data Lab also provided £100,000 in funding, enabling the novel project to begin in October 2016. The partnership allows for identification and implementation of cross-sector efficiencies via data science and deliver previously unobtainable insights.

The data opportunity

NEL works with both operators and manufacturers to improve the understanding of fluid flow and to carry out research into the underlying physics and technology development. In doing so, NEL aims to find solutions to some of the major challenges faced in the oil and gas industry for example, testing under high pressures and temperatures and measurement uncertainty.


Muir Porter, NEL’s Group Manager said:



This is an industry-first that will allow operators the ability to analyse data on very large complex data sets to better inform decisions that have huge potential for cost optimisation. NEL is the UK’s National Measurement Institute, responsible for maintaining the flow measurement national standard. By delivering this unique capability, we will also be able to feed into high-impact industry research and guidance going forward.



Using Data to Enhance Accuracy


Challenge

Underperforming flow meters or inaccurate flow meter analysis directly affects productivity and efficiency in the oil and gas industry. These issues are potentially costly and incur lasting impact if not addressed effectively due to the downtime required to fix the problem. Of key interest is the revenue cost implications of mis-measurement for fiscal allocation.

Solution

NEL teamed up with The Data Lab, the Scottish Government funded Innovation Centre, who in turn facilitated a partnership with Robert Gordon University, to develop state-of-the-art data mining software to perform complex data analysis of large data sets and identify correlations that may assist in improving the performance of measurement. In some cases this may be tracing performance trends to more accurately predict the re-calibration intervals of flowmeters, or to identify previously unknown anomalies related to certain process conditions.

This pioneering system will analyse the information generated from the flow meters and instrument arrays to develop sophisticated insights about their operation. The analysis of this data will predict future trends and forecast potential issues before they become costly problems.

Results

The cost reductions associated with improving flow measurement allocation and carrying out less calibration and maintenance procedures could translate to billions of pounds saved for the oil and gas industry every year. Even a 1 per cent increase in oil productivity through reduced flow issues and improved well optimisation facilitated by more accurate meters would equate to £178m in increased revenue in the UK.

The project is discovering unnoticed data trends and relationships that will help operators to better predict what might be happening to their meter, allowing them to minimise operational costs and maximise revenue. The insights derived through will not only be applicable to NEL clients but to industries spanning nuclear, pharmaceutical, utilities, renewables and life sciences.


John McCall, Director, Smart Data Technologies Centre, Robert Gordon University said:


Our data science knowledge, combined with NEL’s flow metrology expertise, creates the opportunity to analyse data in a novel way, enabling us to provide previously unobtainable insights. We will uncover hidden data trends and relationships that will help operators to better understand and predict the condition of their meters, allowing them to minimise operational costs and maximise well revenues.