'Slug' detector nets innovation award

A SYSTEM which detects pockets of gas which can slow the flow oil from offshore rigs has netted Suffolk company Neftember the 2010 Energy Innovation Award, run by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR).

A SYSTEM which detects pockets of gas which can slow the flow oil from offshore rigs has netted Suffolk company Neftember the 2010 Energy Innovation Award, run by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR).

The advanced “slug detector”, which predicts and controls the pockets of gas which frequently cause sluggish flow in older wells where oil pressure is low, has the potential to save billions of dollars a year in lost oil production worldwide, and extend the working life of some ageing installations in the North Sea.

David Whittingham, director at Woodbridge-based Neftember, said: “The team is very happy to win the award. 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.”

Around 270 guests at the awards dinner, at the Holiday Inn at Norwich International Airport, heard how Neftemer, working in partnership with Cranfield University and backed by an industry consortium, had developed instrumentation and software which predicts and controls slugging flows, while having 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).