Of all the aspects of oil and gas production that businesses may focus on — from reservoir quality to keeping job costs low — one area that can be overlooked or underappreciated is the value of accurate hydrocarbon measurement. In this leaner-price environment, many retiring measurement engineers aren’t being replaced. This has left a gap in in-house expertise across the oil and gas industry that many companies are seeking new ways to fill.
Enter Mark Davis. After working in oil and gas measurement engineering at Shell for 39 years, he decided to retire. But for Mark, retirement was just the
beginning of a new career path, helping oil and gas companies improve their measurement competency. He now works for Danos, spearheading new service
offerings and using his expertise to help the company’s customers.
Mark grew up in the Houma, Louisiana, area, obtaining an associate’s degree from Louisiana State University and a bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University. He worked summers for Shell and eventually was hired full time. He worked hard and learned everything he could, upping his technical expertise until he was eventually reclassified by Shell to the technical professional ranks as a senior staff engineer. Over his career with the company, he focused primarily on measurement engineering for Shell’s production operations, but he also did stints in regulatory and compliance. In 2016 he retired to live in Richmond, Texas, southwest of Houston. But even back then he knew he wasn’t done working.
“I never wanted to be one of those guys who retired and had nothing to occupy his time,” he says. “My current position with Danos is perfect for where I’m at in life now because it allows me to stay busy, share my expertise with others and make good use of all my industry contacts.”
As measurement engineering director for Danos, Mark leads a dynamic team of handpicked experts providing a range of different measurement services to clients. When it comes to oil and gas production, valuation and allocation of product flow is serious business: under-measurement can mean lost revenue, while over-measurement can harm reputations or customer relationships.
One of the ways Mark helps Danos’ clients is by providing expert guidance and designs of new-build well systems, with measurement tools and technologies customized for the specific site and context. Working closely with Danos’ production and automation teams, he can put together everything needed in a single comprehensive package — including training and manuals. Proper training of measurement personnel is critical for producing accurate results. Danos’ fit-for-purpose approach ensures that customers can have confidence in their metering data.
Another way Mark helps oil and gas businesses is when an imbalance occurs — meaning the numbers don’t add up or something isn’t working. He and his team can perform assessments to determine which potential issues are affecting system performance, whether it’s equipment selection, system operation, or even maintenance and reporting failures. Danos then offers solutions for any problems that Mark’s team identifies.
Thanks to his many years of experience in the field, Mark has helped lead efforts to improve industry best-practices regarding measurement accuracy and validation. He’s an active member of the API Committee on Production Measurement, and on behalf of Danos he is providing assistance with technical writing for revision of API’s Chapter 20.3, which focuses on validation of multiphase metering data. These efforts should make the process for addressing issues related to measurement more straightforward for all parties.
With the growing dearth of in-house measurement expertise, some companies may enter into sales contracts that don’t cover potential inaccuracies that may occur due to phase behavior changes. These changes may negatively impact customers at custody transfer and sales measurement points, and it’s why Danos is working with businesses to include contractual provisions to address issues of imbalance. The goal is to create a level playing field for everyone involved, detailing the proper methods for measuring, allocating and resolving any discrepancies.
“Many companies are unaware of the potential problems and risks they are facing,” says Mark. “It’s especially important for smaller or mid-sized companies to protect themselves by employing sound measurement validation practices. Those without in-house expertise should seek help from measurement industry experts to make sure the correct procedures, equipment and training are in place.”
When it comes to hydrocarbon production, there will always be a certain margin of error that can’t be entirely eliminated. But it can be accounted for and systematically addressed through industry-wide standards and best practices, with the help of measurement experts like Mark Davis.
“Measurement may not be the most exciting area in oil and gas,” he says. “But even the tiniest discrepancy or error can add up to millions of dollars, so it pays to take it seriously.”