Even though the oil and gas sector is facing tough economic challenges, its on the cusp of a new technological revolution—a revolution that is primarily driven by the operators.

Like many industries, the main drivers of this technology revolution involve the need to reduce costs while making incremental improvements on the benefits that these technologies deliver. The pace of this operator-driven revolution has been dramatic over the past few years.

To meet customer needs, especially in the current environment, vendors should be asking themselves key questions related to current offerings: Could my technologies be smarter and easier to use? Could my technologies be more flexible? And most importantly, could my technologies be more cost-effective while still improving customer benefits? Suppliers also still need to ensure that their margins are commercially viable.

While many in the industry focus on digital and IT developments for smart technologies, the best example of a move toward smarter, flexible and cost-effective technologies involves a more traditional oil and gas technology: multiphase meters.

Multiphase meters and their ability to accurately measure the flow rates of oil, gas and water are a vital cornerstone of reservoir and production management. Such meters generate crucial information on well performance and the conditions that affect production flows.

Yet too often in the past multiphase meters have been considered unwieldy and expensive. Many operators have been put off by the scale and potential expense of such deployments as well as the inability to change the solution mid-course.

With the well testing alternative unable to provide real-time flow rate information, operators have been left in the unenviable position of having to choose which wells warrant multiphase meters to control capex.

Thus, at a time in the industry when accessing realtime flow rates and ensuring that wells are performing to their optimal potential has never been more important, operators are having to make compromises.

With multiphase meters, however, the industry is charting a way forward—a path that other technologies should adopt.

This path is based on stripping away the complexities around multiphase meters, establishing a proven measurement technology platform on which all meters can be based and then developing different versions of the meter that can be mixed and matched into a variety of configurations depending on the required operator application. Operators only pay for the features they require.

Such applications might include oil or wet gas wells, direct wellhead monitoring, multiwell testing, allocation and fiscal metering, or shale well flowback monitoring. These applications don’t require a onesize- fits-all approach but rather flexible, configurable and customizable solutions that not only meet the operators’ reservoir management needs but also their budgetary ones.

Furthermore, such flexible and modular multiphase metering technologies have the added benefit of being able to evolve over time as the field and flow conditions change, such as when a field has increased salinity or the growing presence of formation water.

Rather than being dependent on one technology solution for the lifetime of the well with the potential of risk of failure and increased maintenance, the different configurations can be customized according to the here and now. The result is greater simplicity and efficiencies, a truly smart solution and a future where an operator can have a multiphase meter on every wellhead.

Multiphase meters are just one example of how technologies have to adapt to meet operators’ changing requirements. Just as multiphase metering technologies are rising to the challenge, there’s no reason that other production technologies, from multiphase pumping to subsea separation, shouldn’t do so too.

The one-size-fits-all approach is no longer applicable in today’s oil and gas sector. A new technology revolution based on flexibility and cost-effectiveness is upon us. Operators who take advantage of flexible solutions will survive and thrive.