Subsurface Safety Valve Testing

Industry: Oil & Gas


A leading company serving the Oil and Gas industry contracted Optimation to design, build and commission ten subsurface safety valve test stands, capable of simulating various downhole scenarios with pressurization capability to 30,000 psi.


Project Approach: Optimation teamed with the customer's manufacturing test engineers and technicians to design process flow diagrams from scratch. Optimation created flow diagrams, instrumentation diagrams, and 3-D layout drawings as part of the hardware design effort. Optimation designed two different process modes: an auto mode and a manual mode. The manual mode was designed to replicate the customer's existing manual process. The auto mode is recipe based; allowing the user to run pre-defined recipes that are designed by the client's engineering personnel. The system is designed to accommodate a wide variety of product and test scenarios. Due to this testing variability, the technician is able to easily take control of the system when necessary by switching to manual mode. Enhanced Safety: The new system architecture allows operators to electronically control the test remotely. Previously, test operators actuated control valves by hand and were exposed in part to the high pressure. Now, operators exert the same direct control via computer system. The PC commands a National Instruments cRIO controller, which in turn sets valves to create desired flow paths. The system then controls pumps to pressurize to desired set points. Automated high pressure bleed valves allow for remote depressurization. Product Protection: The FPGA in the system filters the customer's data at high speed. This high speed filtering reduces noise in the signals and provides higher data reliability, since some of the checks are happening at the hardware level. A series of interlocks prevent the user from performing tests that system designers have deemed dangerous. This occurs in the RT side of the system (not in Windows), assuring product protection. For example, an operator can't open a gas supply valve and a liquid supply valve at the same time, preventing mixing. All tests have a maximum pressure setting; if any pressure is detected over the maximum setting, action is taken. The RT system also checks communication with the Windows side of the system. If communication is lost, the RT side of the system will shut the program down in a “graceful” manner, protecting the process and any data. Rapid,Repeatable Testing: LabVIEW software on the system can be run in manual or automatic mode. In manual mode, the test operator can control any valve or pump in the system directly. Automatic mode creates efficiency with recipe-based test protocols. Engineering can develop a new product, and at the same time write the test protocol in the recipe format necessary for the system, which can then run the recipe. The automatic mode assures the client that every run of the same recipe will be the same. As a result, testing becomes more operator-independent, training is quicker, and since the engineer is controlling the recipe, he ensures that test requirements are being met. Recipe changes are also easier; in the event that there is a product change, the recipe and all future recipes will follow the new product specifications. Dynamic Reports: In safety valve testing, it is critical to log the location of opening and closing points. With this in mind, Optimation designed the system to give the operator easy-to-use tools for picking the points and logging them to reports. Individual steps are logged into an Excel workbook, with a new worksheet for each step. The system dynamically creates the graphs on each worksheet with labels for opening and closing points. To ensure accountability, the report includes the operator name, time and date of the run.


The new automatic controls system has proved to hold a number of benefits for the client. Testing is safer, reliable, and repeatable. And since it uses off-the-shelf equipment, the system is easily maintained. Proper project documentation and report auto-generation ensures that the system can be easily replicated at other locations, with data compatibility from all tests. Using National Instruments cRIO and LabVIEW technology, the client has achieved throughput efficiency, technician safety, and the potential for worldwide test consistency.
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  • Oil & Gas

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