Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemists declare war on 'ice-plugs' in oil pipelines

Date:
November 13, 2009
Source:
SINTEF
Summary:
Operators of subsea fields on the continental shelf spend vast amounts of money on keeping harmful ice-like crystals under control. Scientists are now looking for a cheaper solution to the problem.

At the core of this project are experiments that demonstrate how water droplets behave on different surfaces - suspended in various type of oil.
Credit: Image courtesy of SINTEF

Operators of subsea fields on the continental shelf spend vast amounts of money on keeping harmful ice-like crystals under control. SINTEF scientists are now looking for a cheaper solution to the problem.

The researchers are trying to solve the mystery of what happens when hydrates are formed. These ice-like crystals can accumulate in the pipelines that carry oil and gas ashore from subsea fields on the continental shelf.

Senior scientist Sylvi Hřiland of SINTEF Petroleum Research is the leader of the hydrate project called "Hyades," which is supported by the Research Council of Norway. The University of Bergen, StatoilHydro's research centre in Bergen and the US oil company Chevron are also members of the research team.

"Our final goal is that it will become possible to take a sample of oil into a laboratory, where simple analyses of the composition of the oil can produce results such as that: the hydrates found in oil A are very likely to block the pipeline, while oil B will not be a problem at all," says Sylvi Hřiland.

Hřiland emphasises that the Hyades project on its own will not be enough to bring us to that point, but that it should take the offshore industry an important step further towards the goal.

In any case, the international petroleum industry has long been aware of the project. Shell recently announced at a conference that the company regards the method for characterising different types of oil as promising.

Long distances

The background for this project is oil and gas recovery from subsea fields, from which the well flow is carried in pipelines either to neighbouring platforms or directly to shore, in the latter case over increasingly long distances, which is not always a simple matter.

This is because it is not often that a flow of pure oil or pure gas emerges from the well. The product flow is nearly always a mixture of oil, natural gas and water.

In the pipelines that carry mixtures of this sort across the seabed, the gas and water will form hydrates if the temperature inside the pipeline falls far enough, which is what happens when pipeline transportation takes place over long distances, because the cold seawater outside the pipe gradually cools the oil and gas on the inside.

Similarly, when maintenance work or other circumstances make it necessary to shut down production on a field for some time, the pipeline temperature may fall so low that it creates ideal conditions for the formation of hydrates.

Large plugs

The scientists' hope is due to the fact that certain types of oil possess properties that prevent hydrates from becoming sticky "snowballs." When such oils are present, the hydrates stay in the form of a fine powder that can easily be carried along the pipeline.

But which components of the "unproblematic" oil actually make it unproblematic? That is the key question being studied by the Hyades scientists.

Some types of hydrate crystals are worse than others. Certain hydrates have properties that make the crystals resemble a sticky slush. These are capable of growing into large plugs that can completely block the pipeline.

In order to prevent hydrate formation, the oil companies pump large volumes of methanol or glycol into many of their wells, pipelines and process systems.

Similarly, during both planned and unforeseen production shutdowns, large amounts of chemicals are added to production systems to keep hydrates from forming, all of which is expensive.

Not only are the chemicals themselves dear. When shutdowns are ordered, production losses are prolonged by the time needed to pump large volumes of chemicals down the pipelines, and on the shelf, lost time means lost income.

But for now, the SINTEF scientists have raised a hope that the use of chemicals in pipelines can be reduced in the future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SINTEF. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

SINTEF. "Chemists declare war on 'ice-plugs' in oil pipelines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111122318.htm>.
SINTEF. (2009, November 13). Chemists declare war on 'ice-plugs' in oil pipelines. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111122318.htm
SINTEF. "Chemists declare war on 'ice-plugs' in oil pipelines." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111122318.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins