How are today’s midstream companies operating profitably in light of $60 oil?

Granted, they’re processing more of it since drilling and production have ramped up—but they’re also exploiting the numerous transformations in their business processes they began when oil was below $50.

They’re lean and mean. They’ve increased their organizational agility. They’ve digitized. And they’re embracing millennials. Millennials will soon constitute a majority of the workforce in the United States and have new expectations when it comes to technology deployment in the workplace.

Today, the industry is putting the latest technology to work. Midstream companies are taking advantage of such recent developments as Big Data analytics, fog computing, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Measurement departments have found themselves directly in the center of the transformations that are sweeping the industry. They are supporting the dynamics of today’s newly-agile and digitized organizations. That means providing instant access to up-to-date measurement information throughout the organization while maintaining one source of truth.

Flow-Cal has been a key enabler of the digitalization and business process transformations that midstream measurement operations have put into practice. Our integrated measurement automation application, FLOWCAL Enterprise, is capable of managing natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), chemicals, crude oil and refined products. It allows measurement professionals to track the flow of gas and liquids from the wellhead to the tailgate of a midstream operation.

FLOWCAL Enterprise is the single source for all measurement data and satisfies the most stringent audit and regulatory requirements. Not only does it automate measurement office operations, it integrates them with field technician tasks. This allows everyone to work with a common database and the same reports. Integration significantly reduces potential sources of error and increases efficiency.

Built-in to such a measurement automation application is the vast expertise that, in the past, was reserved for the most accomplished oil and gas measurement professionals. This includes static and dynamic measurements, metering technologies, meter proving, physical properties, flow calculations, calibration, data processing, auditing and verification processes.

It immediately fills the knowledge vacuum that retiring baby boomers are leaving in their wake and allows millennials to focus on meaningful work. Industry newcomers can completely bypass the formidable effort that would otherwise be required to implement a wide variety of industry standards and calculations.

In addition, editing, forecasting, system balancing, and data validations capabilities as well as a broad array of standard displays and reports provide complete functionality, which allows lean and mean measurement departments to operate with maximum agility.

To enable timely decision-making by their management teams, today’s agile midstream operators must balance their systems on a daily basis. That is no simple task in an operation that has become highly diversified through acquisitions, mergers or limited partnerships.

Measurements originating from a variety of metering and tank technologies must be synchronized with quality information from analyzers, chromatographs and lab reports. Balancing based on mass rather than volume allows accurate tracking of individual components such as NGLs, even in the presence of much heavier hydrocarbons.

Ultimately, FLOWCAL Enterprise allows an accurate, component-level system balance across a diverse network that includes gas and liquid measurements in streams with widely varying compositions. This is key to ensuring that everything in the system has been accurately measured and accounted for.

Given an up-to-date, component-level system balance, management can rapidly act on market dynamics. For example, decisions regarding what to do with NGLs can be made daily. With production from shale fields on the rise, more ethane is arriving in midstream systems. Is it worth processing as a liquid or is the commodity price hovering so close to the fuel price that the frac spread is too low and it’s not worthwhile? On the other hand, do you need to support an export deal or supply an 80/20 blend of ethane and propane for ethylene production?

By making comprehensive, component-level balance information available throughout the organization, a measurement automation application fully supports the needs of today’s lean, mean and agile midstream industry.