Digital Gas Hydrate Management System
Blue Gentoo was formed in June 2017, its focus is helping operators and developers of oil and gas fields manage hydrate risks.
The formation of gas hydrates is a major concern for the industry. Hydrates form when hydrocarbons meet water, and they present a significant subsea flow assurance problem for high-pressure pipelines in cold waters.
The usual technique to prevent hydrate formation is to inject large quantities of dehydrators such as Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG). The challenge is to accurately calculate the amount of MEG to inject. Currently, the amount of MEG to be injected is calculated using physical and chemical parameters like temperature, pressure, hydrocarbon composition and water content and reactively adjusted based on the most recent set of measurements. However, because of lack of confidence in the calculations, treatment chemicals, such as MEG, are often dosed at higher rates “just in case”.
The solution proposed by Blue Gentoo is the Integrated Hydrate Platform (IHP). This uses data analytics and machine learning to determine the MEG requirements, using physical and chemical parameters and real-time pipeline conditions and adjusts the injection rate of MEG (or other chemical inhibitors) to maintain an agreed margin of safety against hydrate formation.
The IHP is a new approach to diagnostics taking real-time data to optimise operations and proactively mitigate against flow assurance problems. By delivering a more efficient way of preventing hydrate formation during hydrocarbon extraction, and therefore lowering chemical usage, IHP can deliver significant cost savings.
Additional benefits include reductions in operators’ environmental footprint, through lower CO2 emissions, and reduced energy input into the overall process. It also increases automation and supports the move towards digitalisation.
To develop the IHP, Blue Gentoo uses advanced AI techniques to deliver a suite of functionalities. OGIC connected Blue Gentoo with Dr Ernesto Compatangelo and Professor Wamberto Vasconcelos, from the School of Natural & Computing Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, who had the requisite AI and software engineering experience and expertise needed to support this stage of development. OGIC also provided financial support to make the project possible.
The 12-month project was demanding, since many of its elements – such as computational representation of the hydrate management process as a workflow controllable in real-time – had not been attempted before. In addition, since IHP would replace a previously manual process, Blue Gentoo wanted a tool that would be reassuring to users, providing strong justification of the adopted hydrate management strategy and built-in scope for human override.
A great fit between the two teams helped them navigate the challenges and flex the plan when necessary to deliver their vision. As a result, the technology has been taken from TRL1 to TRL4, with the researchers producing a ‘portable emulator’ or prototype system with self-learning software. As a result of the collaboration, Blue Gentoo is now able to demonstrate the concept to customers and is ready for field trials.
“At all stages of the project, we felt the University team shared our ambitions to move this project towards commercialisation. As a result, we’ve made significant progress on a product that could create a new global standard for flow assurance work.”
Phil Bremner, Founder, Blue Gentoo
“The use of artificial intelligence techniques allowed us to support an important natural gas production aspect – namely, hydrate management, which is currently addressed by human operators. Our automated solution can be explained to humans, thus increasing their level of trust and lowering their perception of risk, achieving a form of explainable AI that is essential in oil & gas activities.”
Dr Ernesto Compatangelo, School of Natural & Computing Sciences, University of Aberdeen