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A Systems Approach to Flow Assurance

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Course Credit: 0.15 CEU, 1.5 PDH

The field of flow assurance grew out of the need for dynamic thermal-hydraulic modeling on deep-water projects to address two issues primarily – hydrate formation and slugging in production flow-lines. Based on this legacy, the Flow Assurance Engineer (FEA) is frequently embedded in the sub-sea design team where he/she contributes to sub-sea layout, flow-line sizing (to achieve production targets and minimize slugging) and insulation requirements (to avoid hydrates).

Today, the FEA must be a Systems Engineer.

They should be concerned with several solids deposition chemistries in addition to hydrates including scaling, asphaltenes, wax, gelling and potentially others. Other potential concerns include corrosion, erosion, and biological growth.

FEA’s have interfaces to Reservoir/Production Engineering, Drilling (sampling reservoir fluids), Well Design and Topsides. Important interfaces include:

Reservoir fluid sampling, sample handling and analysis
Sizing of chokes for reservoir protection (low flows during rampup) and design flows
Chemical selection including hydrate prevention chemicals
Sizing of subsea and subsurface chemical delivery systems
Control of slugging and management of slugs on topsides
Flowline blowdown via topsides systems
Development of field operating philosophies
Other novel and important interfaces occur when EOR is implemented.

And the FEA needs to consider the life cycle of the project including commissioning, initial startup, early life operation (high rates, pressure and temperatures and low watercuts), late life operation (low rates and pressures and high water cuts).In particular, EOR projects can make late life production dramatically different than early life.Systems designed to maximize production in early life may be woefully over-sized for late life production and for initial startup at low rates.

In a nutshell – the truly effective flow assurance engineer must be a systems engineer, a big picture thinker who has an appreciation for the design and operation of the entire system from subsurface to topsides.

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Course Chapters

  • 1A Systems Approach to Flow Assurance - Chapter 1
    Media Type: Video


Earn credits by completing this course0.15 CEU credit1.5 PDH credits


Howard Duhon