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Slug controller scoops top innovation award

09th March 2010
A system which detects and controls unwanted pockets of liquids and gases in oil flowing from offshore rigs has won Suffolk company Neftemer and Cranfield University the Energy Innovation Awards 2010 run by EEEGR.

Neftemer director David Whittingham said that the advanced slug detector could help save some of the billions of dollars a year lost in oil production.

It could also extend the life of North Sea rigs where older wells were more likely to suffer from the slugs which caused blockages where there was a lack of upstream pressure in older wells.

"The team is very happy to win the award.," said Mr Whittingham. "As well as working in the North Sea, we believe the advanced slug detector can boost the UK's export market as we plan to take it into Brazil, Canada and the southern states of the US. It can be used to upgrade existing platforms, is easily attached and simple to operate.

"I must thank members of the Slug Detection Consortium including Chevron, Endress + Houser, SPT Group, PERA, Frank Knight of TSB, Cranfield University and all the team at Neftemer Ltd. Most of all, my thanks to Vladimir Kratirov, director of Neftemer and the father of our multiphase meter for over 25 years. Without him we would not have a product."

Around 270 guests attended the Innovation Awards and gala dinner at the Holiday Inn, Norwich International Airport. They heard how Woodbridge-based Neftemer and the consortium had developed the platform-based instrumentation and software which predict and control slugging flows with the minimum impact on normal oil production.

Mr Whittingham was presented with the award by John Balch, chairman of the judges and strategic director for NWES (Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services).

The runner-up award went to Kevin Keable, of Loddon-based Oilennium for its E2CO system, a simulator which allows workers safe onscreen training on potentially dangerous or expensive equipment before handling it for real.

The Low Carbon Innovation Award Trophy went to Norwich-based Redwood Power Systems for its LED/SMD lighting technology developed over the last two years.

John Harrison, marketing director, said its polycarbonate SMD tubes could be retrofitted into existing fittings, or provided new, for commercial applications and offer energy savings of up to 70% and a variety of other benefits. They also had a range of halogen spotlights with similar savings and other lights for schools, shops and offices.

A case study on one customer found energy savings of £35,000 a year and around 250 tons of carbon emissions prevented on one site. Spread over the company's 32 sites, it could total £1.1m in savings and prevent 8000 tons of emissions.

Mr Harrison was presented with the award on behalf of Project Evolve-Supporting Norfolk by Dr Kevan Williams from Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia.

Other finalists for the awards were:

  • 4COffshore with a global offshore windfarms database
  • C-Mac MicroTechnology with a high temperature DC-DC Converter
  • Global Marine Systems with the Predator ROV
  • T D Williamson (UK) with their SmartPlugTM

** Presentations are now available to download HERE