The IRmadillo for Monitoring Oil & Gas Production
The biggest challenge in upstream applications is the harsh environment in which oil and gas production occurs. Challenging weather conditions, vibrating machinery, and above all the frequent lack of appropriate maintenance capabilities in remote locations leads to operating conditions that conventional instrumentation struggle to function in – if at all. The IRmadillo was specifically designed to be robust and reliable, with no moving parts and temperature stabilisation (rather than liquid nitrogen or Stirling engine based cooling), meaning it does not need frequent maintenance or attention.
Midstream installations suffer similar challenges to upstream, often in less accessible locations and still subject to adverse weather and both high and low ambient temperatures. Processes such as separation, blending and additive injection benefit from real-time analysis and control, while property analysis is important to storage and transportation practices.
There is a long history of analytical instrumentation in downstream oil and gas production (i.e., refining), most notably a large amount of near infrared (NIR) instrumentation. The IRmadillo can match the measurement capabilities of NIR instruments on liquids and slurries, but with added stability, robustness and – in many cases – better measurement performance. More importantly, though, the IRmadillo can help plug the gaps in analysis that a refinery has, bringing in-line analysis and real-time control to those applications that NIR or other techniques cannot effectively analyse.
Using the IRmadillo to Monitor Oil & Gas Production
The IRmadillo is a versatile, robust and reliable process analyser based on FTIR spectroscopy. It has applications throughout the entire oil and gas production sector, be it upstream, midstream or downstream.
The IRmadillo can easily monitor the following example applications:
- Total acid number (TAN) determination
- Glycol regeneration in natural gas dehydration
- Vapour pressure and other physical property monitoring
- RON/MON and other octane measurements
- Aromatics monitoring such as BTX
- Alcohol and ether additives in gasoline blending
- PIONA analysis
The benefits of on-line analysis compared to lab-based analysis
There are many different reasons why on-line analysis can be considered an improvement over off-line laboratory analysis. Here are three main benefits from using the IRmadillo compared to off-line sampling and analysis:
Safety: Some chemicals (for example, cyanides due to toxicity, or epoxides due to high reactivity and pyrophoric tendencies) cannot be handled safely. Taking samples off-line from pipelines or railcars is not practical or safe, and needs to be avoided as much as practical.
Short-lived chemicals: Some chemicals (for example free radicals or reactive intermediates) can be very short lived, and almost impossible to collect and bring to a laboratory for analysis. In this case only an on-line measurement allows detection and monitoring of the intermediates.
Real-time fine process control: Real-time process control can only be achieved with a real-time measurement. By the time a laboratory measurement has reported its result to the control room it is entirely possible that the process is completely different, and the result is no longer representative.
What about other instruments – Raman, near infrared (NIR), & refractive index monitors?
Raman spectroscopy is similar to the FTIR that drives the IRmadillo’s process monitoring, but it can be very strongly and negatively affected by particles and bubbles in the solution, as well as showing strong fluorescence in many cases.
Near infrared (NIR) technologies are very common in downstream oil and gas. This technique provides much less specific information than FTIR, but can be very cost-effective instruments. They can give less specific and accurate results compared to an FTIR or Raman, but may be good enough for some situations.
Standard FTIR instruments contain delicately balanced optics that are highly susceptible to vibration, along with fragile fibre-optic cables making the use of standard FTIRs directly in manufacturing conditions a real challenge.
Refractometers are cost-effective measurements for simple mixtures with very good process control already. Refractometers work very well measuring one component in another component, but cannot cope with complicated mixtures or a change in temperature (any temperature variation over ± 2°C can cause measurement problems for refractometers).
The IRmadillo for
Oil & Gas Production
The IRmadillo was designed for ease of use, so in many cases does not require any sample conditioning or specific handling. The section above specifies the operating conditions of the various models. If your process lies outside of these (for example, a high temperature alkali process) then some sample conditioning may be required – Keit will work with you to establish a solution.
The IRmadillo was originally developed for the petrochemicals and oil and gas industries – so it can take a beating. It has an ambient temperature range of -20°C to 55°C so temperature variations aren’t a problem. It also has an IP65 rating meaning it doesn’t mind whatever the weather throws at it.
Fouling is a problem for ATR based probes, but the calibration Keit builds for measurement will identify when this sort of problem occurs. Calibrations can also be built to include small amounts of scale or fouling to make them more robust until you have a time to clean the probe.
There’s more to find out. Feel free to download and read our application notes and
brochure by browsing our application library.
The IRmadillo for
Monitoring Oil & Gas Production
If you purchase the IRmadillo for chemical manufacturing you will receive:
- IRmadillo process analyser
- Interface and mounting accessories to integrate with your process (following a consultation with your engineering team)
- IRmadillo controller
- Calibration services
- Ongoing technical and recalibration support (as per your warranty or maintenance contract)