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Demand for Opus’s pioneering work in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has reached a record high this year and further growth from around the world is expected in future.

In recent months the company’s valued expertise in this rapidly developing field has been called on for projects in Malaysia, Azerbaijan and Australia as well as the North Sea.

During the 2011-2012 financial year, Opus completed four CFD projects worth a total of £218,000, with one supporting a process upgrade order valued at about £180,000. In 2012-2013 five projects were completed, valued at £219,000, and three supported process upgrade orders worth £985,000. It is also tendering for a fourth project which could also lead to a upgrade order.

Already, in the first five months of 2013-2014, Opus has completed, or is currently running, four CFD projects worth £237,000 - with hopes of future orders for process upgrade surpassing last year’s total.

CFD is a vital part of Opus’s consultancy operation and is used alongside the company’s extensive knowledge of process upgrades and experience of physical modelling to provide a comprehensive overview of fluid dynamics and the separation of oil, gas, water and solids. It is used to support and validate theoretical process calculations and is particularly powerful when applied in conjunction with a physical modelling analysis as the two techniques complement each other.

Using CFD in conjunction with these other analysis tools enables detailed recommendations to be made for improvements to separation and produced water systems to substantially enhance productivity and efficiency.

Tim Newton, Lead Flow Analyst with Opus, said: “We are pioneering in the way we apply CFD. We are constantly pushing its capabilities and developing new analysis methodologies to accurately simulate the complex multi-phase flow interactions present in separation vessels, the ultimate aim being to improve the efficiencyseparation performance of these vessels.

“In the last few years we have seen a lot of growth in CFD work and this year there have been more projects than ever before that have progressed into hardware orders.”

“We use CFD to assist in the development of produced water treatment technologies.  This includes developing and enhancing the performance of existing technology as well as developing new technology.

“Clients are turning to CFD more and more as they seek to ensure water that is being disposed of overboard meets required specifications under increasingly challenging conditions. CFD plays a big part in validating the design of process vessels giving clients confidence in their investment decisions.”

Increasingly, he said clients are looking for degasser vessels to provide some oil recovery performance, in addition to their original purpose,  and this can prove challenging. However technology has been created and adapted to achieve oil removal, with CFD being used to validate the designs and to ensure clients can be confident of improved performance.

In addition, while regulations still stipulate that overboard discharges do not exceed 40 parts per million (ppl), clients are already pre-empting a tightening of the rules by requesting separation performance of 25ppm or less for degassers.

Following the acquisition of Opus by Aker Solutions, the company’s global reach has been extended and its CFD expertise will be utilised more widely with significant investment planned in hardware, software and manpower to keep pace with an expanding and diversifying workload.

In future CFD is expected to be in demand to support processes for heavy oil separation and used alongside sloshing studies in new deep water oil fields.  As fixed platforms are not economically viable in deep water fields, floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels are often used. This has led to a demand for more sloshing analyses as fluids inside separators move around, particularly in stormy conditions. One of the biggest projects carried out to date has been done in conjunction with a sloshing analysis for Aker in Australia.

Tim added: “It is definitely a growth area and one that will develop as part of a strategy following acquisition. Further planned investment will increase our expertise and capabilities and help us continue to be pioneers in this important field.”