Solving Flow Assurance problems with ALFAsim’s unique customization framework
Published on: 10/04/2021
In today’s industry, computational simulation has become an important aspect of any project, helping decrease product development and process costs. Simulations are becoming more common as they can be performed using personal computers. Moreover, this technology has a very low operational cost when compared to developing prototypes and experiments, which have to be designed, built, and tested.
The oil and gas industry widely employs simulations throughout the exploration and production chain, from the reservoir all the way to the surface facilities. Currently, the O&G industry is moving into a new era of digital transformation, which requires more than traditional black-box solutions.
Companies that provide simulation solutions to the industry must offer customizable tools to meet the ever-increasing demand for higher-fidelity and more computationally efficient models. Simulation also offers several software customization and interoperability advantages, such as reducing the whole software cycle—creation, maintenance, and updates. The relationship between universities and industry is also enhanced by facilitating the transfer of technology between them. This allows each component provider (academic, software vendor, equipment supplier, etc.) to focus on their own expertise (1).
Many oil and gas companies have in-house models resulting from R&D projects. However, these models sometimes cannot be deployed to field engineers in a reasonable timeframe, since the models depend on software vendor development cycles and priorities. But a customizable framework allows the seamless integration of these models, making these models highly desirable. This kind of platform must provide a base simulator with all minimal functionalities and equations in conjunction with an Application Programming Interface (API), which can be used to couple new models to the simulator’s numerical kernel (Figure 1).
ALFAsim’s plugin structure
ALFAsim’s plugin structure provides a rich API that allows users to add functionalities to the multiphase flow simulator by modifying a predefined list of functions or equations that are being solved, also called hooks (mass, momentum, and energy conservation equations and also internal correlations such as friction factor). The API allows access to the internal variables of the simulator (e.g. density, viscosity, etc.), providing a complete set of tools to help any company add its proprietary flow assurance models into the ALFAsim (Artificial Lift and Flow Assurance Simulator) framework. Moreover, this workflow allows for capturing more realistic process modelling, maximized efficiency, and protection of proprietary models, which are the main requirements for an API communication of multiphase flow simulators (2).
To make it possible, a Software Development Kit (SDK) is available as an open-source project called ALFAsim-SDK (3). This development kit provides tools that enable engineers to implement, compile, and release a plugin tailored to specific in-house flow assurance models.
The ability to couple complex models with a multiphase flow simulator through a flexible and comprehensible plugin structure API is key to designing state-of-the-art models and to solving applied industry problems related to flow assurance.
In the next blog post, we will go into a little more detail on how we used the customization framework to implement a wax deposition model as a plugin in ALFAsim. Also, we will discuss how it can help you better identify and mitigate this recurring flow assurance issue.
Stay tuned for more!
1. P.S. Banks, K.A. Irons and M.R. Woodman (2005). Interoperability of Process Simulation Software. Oil & Gas Science and Technology – Rev. IFP, Vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 607-616.
2. Lagus T. P. (2019). Integration of custom flow assurance models into hydraulic simulators. In BHR 19th International Conference on Multiphase Production Technology, 5-7 June, Cannes, France. BHR Group. BHR-2019-077.
3. ESSS (2020). ALFAsim-SDK Documentation. Available at <https: //alfasim-sdk.readthedocs.io>. Accessed in August 2021.
Business Development, ESSS O&G
Carolina Barreto has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and a Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering, from the University of Tulsa. Spanning over 10 years of professional experience in O&G, Carolina initially worked as a process engineer to later focus on petroleum production, in which the use of simulation for engineering applications became indispensable. Carolina has been working at ESSS since 2018 and is one of the responsible for fostering partnerships between Oil & Gas companies, Universities, Research institutions and ESSS, in order to develop R&D projects related to simulation and new software technologies.