This project validates a new hydrate-phobic coating for deepwater well operations, through testing under a variety of flow conditions, to improve safety, cost, and component life.
As oil and gas production wells mature, the risk of gas hydrate blockages in flowlines can become hard to manage, limiting the life of the field and incurring prohibitive costs. In order to both reduce costs of inhibitor injection and prevent safety hazards to personnel and equipment caused by flowline blockages, researchers are exploring technologies that can extend field life and minimize product loss in a safer, more cost-effective manner.
This project aims to design, test, and validate robust pipeline coatings to prevent and minimize gas hydrate deposits in subsea oil flowlines, addressing major flow assurance problems that continue to plague deepwater field operations. A coating capable of preventing gas hydrate deposition would represent a breakthrough over the current state-of-the-art, mitigating the severe production, environmental, and safety issues that this deposition can cause during operation.
Low-surface energy coating materials that can be applied in-situ to operational pipelines represent a critical need for industry. A novel coating developed during a previous DOE-sponsored collaboration between The Colorado School of Mines Center for Hydrate Research (Golden, CO) and Oceanit Laboratories (Honolulu, HI) showed promise preventing hydrate deposition in small-scale apparatuses. This project will advance and scale-up this concept by testing and validating second-generation hydrate-phobic coatings in larger multiphase flow systems.
Colorado School of Mines and Oceanit Laboratories will test different coatings for their hydrate repellency and long-term survivability. To do this, Colorado School of Mines has extended its deposition loop system to expand coating testing under a variety of flow conditions; baseline testing was performed using a single-pass flowloop system, with the capability to test varying corrosion levels, coatings, and bulk phase fluid compositions. The loop system will be used throughout to test the effectiveness of these advanced coatings during both steady-state and transient operations. Oceanit is also creating coupons to demonstrate its coating in CSM’s rocking-cell apparatus. New coating development is also underway, allowing researchers to test different material properties and curing procedures.
CSM and Oceanit are currently testing the adhesion and deposition of waxes and asphaltenes in order to understand the full range of the coatings’ capabilities in field conditions, where buildup of these materials can also cause problems in the flowline. Once the behavior of these materials is quantified at the lab scale, CSM will perform experiments using the flowloop setup in order to further validate the next-generation coatings it is testing.
The successful development of a robust pipeline coating to prevent flowline blockages caused by gas hydrates would result in significant savings for pipeline operators, whose current mitigation efforts can exceed $1 million in costs for a single mile of pipeline. The existing methods used to avoid gas hydrate deposition have become increasingly untenable from both an environmental and economic standpoint, and this new coating will provide flow assurance, limit catastrophic blowout, and minimize smaller sustained leaks.
There is a pressing need within industry for an approach that facilitates well production where traditional methods for limiting hydrate buildup are unfeasible. This research represents a novel, cost-effective solution to these challenges, offering a major fundamental breakthrough in gas hydrate science and engineering.
Research products are being developed and will be posted here when publicly available.
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*Image Source: NETL
Functional coatings for mitigating corrosion and flow assurance solids deposition.