Fiber optic sensors have gained increasing use in monitoring offshore structures. The sensors have successfully monitored flowlines, umbilicals, wells, Tension Leg Platform (TLP) tendons, production and drilling risers, and mooring lines. Fiber optic sensors are capable of monitoring strain, temperature, pressure, and vibration. While the success of fiber optic monitoring has been clearly demonstrated, the sensors are now under consideration for automation applications. This paper details the plausibility of using pressure measurements from post-installed fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors with Model Predictive Control (MPC) to suppress severe slugging in subsea risers.
Prior control schemes demonstrate that slugging is mitigated using a topside choke valve. The most effective methods use a pressure measurement immediately upstream of the touchdown zone of the riser; however, the majority of production risers do not have pressure sensing at that location. With advances in subsea clamp design and bonding it is now possible to install a non-penetrating FBG sensor to monitor pressure near the touchdown zone without shutting down production. Stabilizing the two phase flow both reduces vibration-induced fatigue and has the potential to allow increased throughput with relaxed topside processing constraints.
MPC predicts and adjusts for disturbances to avoid pressure and flow instability. The performance of the controller is influenced by sensor location, choke valve response time, and riser geometry. This study demonstrates that severe riser slugging is effectively controlled with MPC and a post-installed, non-penetrating FBG sensor.