Oil drilling company achieves faster well startup and decreases time to net oil


  • Faster well startup results in decreased time
    to net oil
  • One week reduction in startup time provides
    up to 8,000 barrels of additional production
  • Financial gain up to $720K per well



Upstream heat treating of petroleum production fluid to break emulsions into phases of oil, gas, and water, plus measurement and monitoring.


Mid-size North Dakota upstream oil field exploration and production company is drilling and starting up new wells.


The customer was seeking the most time-effective and cost-efficient system to bring wells online and into production. The on-site solution must include technology for separating oil and water as well as accurately measuring and monitoring each component.


The Novaspect / Emerson team of engineers designed and commissioned vertical and horizontal heater treater units equipped with advanced measurement and monitoring capabilities. Their solution resulted in a time savings up to one week per well with a financial gain of up to $720K per well. A producer commissioning one well per month can deliver up to $8.6 million of additional crude to market. Other benefits include decreased flare gas to storage tanks, significantly reduced shrinkage, and improved allocation measurement, a 28% improvement over conventional methods.

Heater Treater Design Principles

The fundamental principle behind upstream heater treaters is to provide heat to the produced fluid to assist in breaking emulsions combined with sufficient retention time for the oil, water, and gas phases to separate out based on their differences in density. The vessel size is determined by the estimated production volumes and properties of the crude to be treated over the life of the field. There are two types of heater treaters: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical is the most common type of treater due to its low cost, reduced complexity and ability to gravity feed produced liquids to the tanks. Horizontal tends to be more complex and at a higher cost, but a longer “U” style firetube allows for greater heating capacity and treatment rates. Horizontal treaters are more efficient but typically operate at higher pressures since they lack the vertical height to boost the produced liquids to the tanks.

This Novaspect / Emerson solution included:

Emerson Remote Operations Controllers
(ROC) have established an industry benchmark for flexibility, robustness, ease of use and reliability. They offer features, benefits, and technology for the most demanding remote measurement and control applications.

Fisher® easy-DriveTM electric actuators are specifically designed for upstream wellhead applications. They can be installed on Fisher D4 or D3 valves and enable the use of proven, robust, globe valve technology in separator/heater treater level control applications.

RosemountTM 3051S ERSTM System pressure transmitters are specified to gain more accurate and reliable measurements of fluid levels inside the heater treater. They help streamline commissioning and reduce the number of tools needed to manage by using intuitive local operator interface.

Micro MotionTM Coriolis measurement system supplies highly accurate and repeatable measurements of volume flow and density while reducing costs for installation, operation, and maintenance.

Turck Cables: Components are quick-connected with Turck Cables, industrial ethernet distributed I/O products supporting a variety of mechanical and field wiring formats, and protocols. Customer benefits by not wasting valuable production time waiting for electricians to make installations.

Emerson Process Management provided by Novaspect offers an array of control system support services designed to help achieve business objectives, reduce or contain operating and service costs, and keep control systems running at peak performance. It’s a partnership that knows your business and can help you operate your plant safely, reliably and more efficiently. To learn how Novaspect can solve your challenging application, contact us today.