In collaboration with SINTEF, a team of researchers from Statoil have developed a device that indicates water, oil and gas levels in oil separators by means of pressure measurements. The measurement system can be used with all types of onshore and offshore separation systems. Problems with earlier measurement methods have included sensor blockages and drilling mud that contains radioactive material that interferes with measurements. The new measurement system has micro-sensors all the way down the stave.
A typical three-metre stave will incorporate one hundred sensors, each of them thirty millimetres high. This new generation of pressure sensors is accurate, small and inexpensive. The pressure sensors are capable of measuring the interfaces between the water/oil and oil/gas phases and the thickness of the water-oil emulsion. SINTEF has produced two measurement staves, and Statoil is currently in the phase of pilot testing them at the Oseberg Field Centre and elsewhere.