A NEW flow loop commissioned in Australia is expected to help researchers find solutions to predict and control gas hydrates formation in offshore oil and production pipelines.
The CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) flow loop can simulate gas-liquid flows at high pressures and low temperatures – conditions that hydrocarbons transportation pipelines are subjected to in deep-sea environments.
CSIRO’s Dr Edson Nakagawa says the flow loop will be used to study gas hydrates formation, growth and transportability.
“It also has the capability to test different types of hydrates inhibitors and analyse how they affect the formation of hydrates under different conditions,” says Dr Nakagawa, who leads CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship’s marine-based industries research.
The flow loop will be used in a flow assurance project that forms part of the so called Platform-Free Fields programme, which is a project designed to take a holistic approach to understanding the formation of hydrates in gas pipelines.
“Our first objective is to develop a model to enable operators to predict the formation and flow of hydrates in gas pipelines and therefore anticipate potential gas hydrates problems. This will lead to improvements in the design and operation of pipelines,” says Dr Nakagawa.
Gas hydrates are “ice-like” crystals composed of gas and water that can form in oil&gas offshore pipelines anywhere in the world, including the North Sea, where the use of inhibitors and insulation are commonplace.
Hydrates can block pipelines, disrupt production and, at worst, cause flow lines to burst, leading to costly, time-consuming and potentially dangerous repair operations.
CSIRO is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.