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Neil Barton

Technical Discipline: Computational Fluid Dynamics
Years in industry: 33
Years at Xodus: 11
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What is your specialist area?

Ensuring that oil and gas travels happily and safely down pipes. This work involves Computational Fluid Dynamics, erosion, pipework vibration, multiphase flow, thermal analysis, instrumentation, separators,  downhole completions, valves, wind, waves, lab tests, failure investigations, sand management and flow assurance.


What is Sandflux and why is this tool important for the industry?

Typically, when the acoustic sand detector (ASD) installed on a well indicates the presence of sand then production is choked back. However, most ASDs are only set up to detect sand. They don’t tell you how much sand there is. You can get around this by doing a sand injection calibration. Sandflux is software that offers a new way of using ASD measurements to estimate sand rates when sand injection isn’t possible, which means Operators can manage their production and the risks from sand more appropriately.


How did Sandflux come about?

I have done a lot of work over the years on sand erosion, but it is not easy to estimate accurately. I got chatting to some folk from ClampOn, who make ASDs, and they kindly shared some of their data. Looking at this data I realised that ASDs can estimate sand rates based on their own background noise. You can use this information to make better erosion estimates and set more realistic production limits. We then approached Equinor to help validate the software we had developed and we are really grateful that they agreed to work with us. Collaborations like this are so key to innovations like this happening, as without all the elements that came together from the different organisations we would never have been able to create this new tool which will really make a difference to Operators managing sand in their production systems.


What are the next steps for Sandflux?

Equinor are currently running Sandflux trials on live data. We are looking to run further trials with other operators. We are also working on new CFD-based methods which will hopefully further improve how we do things.


What is the one piece of advice you would give Operators with sand issues?

Pay attention to how sand is limiting your production. You can probably improve how you do this and there is a lot of value in doing it well.

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