Fluid Level Sensors - Oil & Gas Applications

The new look of Oil & Gas drilling. This is now a high tech discipline dependent upon a wide variety of sensors and controls to extract the resource while protecting the environment.

The new look of Oil & Gas drilling. This is now a high tech discipline dependent upon a wide variety of sensors and controls to extract the resource while protecting the environment.

The use of fluid sensing in the oil & gas industries has become increasingly crucial. Oils, water and chemical solutions play critical roles in the lifecycles of wells, and are important in novel and unconventional drilling methods such as fracking.

The emergence of new methods and regulations means that monitoring of the different chemicals in wastewater and back flows is essential. This means that liquid level sensing is now needed for more than just performance monitoring; oil and gas operators must ensure they are actively taking protective measures against environmental damage via the effective collection, storage and treatment of wastewater. Using liquid level sensing allows these steps to be carried out effectively and reliably.

Common applications of liquid level sensing include chemical injections, tote level monitoring, monitoring drilling fluid (‘mud’) tanks, monitoring the level of storage tanks and monitoring reservoirs of lubricating and hydraulic fluids.

Produced Water Monitoring with Reliable Level Sensors

While fracking currently lies outside the Clean Water Act, pressure from environmental groups means that drilling companies should still regulate their water use and contaminant outflows.

Fracking can result in the leakage of many different toxic substances. Depending on the size and location of the operation, water may need to be treated on-site, and any contaminated water should be transported off-site for subsequent treatment. In both cases, contaminated water tends to be stored on-site prior to treating. Common chemicals present in the water are:

  • Sodium hydroxide (Caustic soda)
  • 2-butoxyethanol (Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether)
  • 1,2-ethanediol (Ethylene glycol)
  • Methanol
  • Isopropanol
  • Hydrotreated light petroleum distillates

Efficient monitoring should involve the collection, treatment and removal of these toxic compounds on a continuous basis as part of the production process. Reliable liquid level sensing is a key component in realizing this.

Failing to follow these steps can be expensive. Following legal action by the environment protection agency, Exxon paid a penalty of $100K, with an additional $20M paid to prevent wastewater contamination from drilling in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The spill in question was discovered by inspectors, who realized that fracking wastewater was flowing through an open valve from their storage wells.

Better sensing technologies that recognize any drops in well levels, would have prevented the wastewater (which contained strontium, chloride and barium) from leaking. As a result of this legal and environmental fallout, Exxon are required to set up a continuous, remote monitoring liquid level sensing system for all of its production sites. This system will trigger alarms in the event of a leakage, allowing all of the interconnected tanks to be monitored.

In a similar case that also took place in Pennsylvania, unmonitored systems resulted in the spill of toxic fluids from fracking. In one instance 227,000 gallons of fluid were split, resulting in a wide-scale evacuation, and in another, 9,000 gallons contaminated a farm.

Implementing optimal practices in the oil and gas industry means the public has more confidence that the environment is being protected, and that drinking water is safe. The EPA recommends using liquid level monitoring as means of avoiding wastewater spills. This monitoring should be carried out using accurate and reliable level sensors.

Sample of Gems Level Sensors in Oil & Gas

Single Point Level Switches

Single Point Level Switches

Multi Point Level Switches

Multi Point Level Switches

Tank Gauging Level Indicators

Tank Gauging Level Indicators

Continuous Level Transmitters

Continuous Level Transmitters

Gems Sensors can provide an important service in this area, by helping the oil & gas industry make their operations safer. For more than 50 years, Gem Sensors have provided custom solutions to the oil & gas industry, which allows them to measure the levels, pressure and flow in their systems.

Gems Sensors are industry favorites because:

Low Power: Gem Sensor’s low-energy sensors, powered by solar, are key to remote sensing whilst keeping operational costs low.

Reliability: Sensors produced by Gem Sensors have a robust and certified design for use in the harsh environments that oil and gas infrastructure is located in.

Solution Variety: Gem Sensors can provide a huge range of different sensors for the oil and gas industry including flow, level, pressure and valve sensors. Sensors are available for operation at intense temperatures and pressures, and can be designed to fit oil & gas industry standards.

Peace of Mind: Sensors from Gem Sensors are designed to have a long lifetime, helping prevent expensive system downtime.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Gems Sensors and Controls.

For more information on this source, please visit Gems Sensors and Controls.

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