Success of A+ Genie Membrane Tip Probe in Rich Shale Gas


A major midstream company operating in the Eagle Ford Shale was having problems balancing a large pipeline which gathered rich gas production for processing. The gas can be characterized as high BTU with higher concentrations of the ethane and propane hydrocarbon components. There were concerns about use of the A+ Corporation’s Genie membrane tip probe for this type of application because of the amount of liquids present from time to time. The company had employed a heated sample conditioning system where free liquids were separated outside the pipeline but within a heated enclosure.

The A+ Distributor was invited to discuss options. During meetings, there were discussions regarding the implementation of industry standards that call for separation of free liquids at pipeline pressure and temperature which takes place in a pure sense only in the pipeline. Additionally, the danger of separation taking place within a heated enclosure might result in the vaporization of free liquids that subsequently pass through a separation device and then possibly deliver a biased sample to the analyzer.

Also discussed was the need to use equipment that conforms to industry standards whenever possible when the gas composition is rich and flow volumes are significant. If this solution is field proven to be impractical due to operation/maintenance issues, then and only then should a “next best” option be developed.

Field Experience & Results

To address the problems, several test units incorporating the A+ Corporation’s Genie Membrane Tipped Probe Model GP2 and a Multistage Heated Regulator Model JTR-H fitted within a line mounted enclosure was installed in the field. Results from these test units were positive. It was determined that the imbalance being experienced may have been a result of vaporization in existing units.

Approximately 30 to 40 units were then installed using the configuration of the units from the field test. Results showed the pipeline began to balance. The impact of using the Genie Probes in this application resulted in accurate balancing of the pipeline and a significant financial correction for the customer.

Lesson Learned

Don’t rule out application of membrane tipped probes immediately without operational experience. Whereas some applications clearly may not be practical, thought should be given to the adherence to industry standards and each application should be evaluated with a phase envelope before the best option can be determined.