Modelling hydrate blockages

Forecasting hydrate blockages in subsea systems

This collaborative project integrated a mechanistic hydrate model developed by The University of Western Australia into Wood’s operational online Virtuoso software package, which will allow operators for the first time ever to calculate the operational risk of a hydrate blockage in their assets in real time.

Methane hydrates present a major challenge in subsea production pipelines. These ice-like substances form inside the pipe and can eventually build up to create a blockage. Removing a hydrate blockage from a subsea pipeline is an expensive and time-consuming exercise. For LNG facilities, such interruptions to production can have severe financial consequences, and therefore hydrate blockages are avoided at all costs.

Virtuoso is Wood’s world leading asset performance monitoring software, providing real-time operational and optimisation advice to over 10% of the world’s upstream gas production.

Dr James Holbeach, Wood’s strategy & development director for its automation and control business, said: “The project will enable more optimised engineering design and drive significant cost savings for operators through reduced chemical usage and improved production recovery.”

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said NERA’s role is critical in connecting Australia’s research community with industry to solve major sector-wide challenges that will benefit the next generation of asset development and operation and drive the competitiveness of our energy industries well into the future.

“Through this collaboration and commitment to solving a major industry problem, Australia can reinforce its reputation as a leading destination for industry solutions and technological excellence. If this knowledge and these solutions can be applied to other industries or sectors, we create powerful multipliers that will live on long after the life of any single project,” Ms Taylor said.


This project:

  • considerably reduces operational uncertainties and enhances efficiency in operations and maintenance
  • enables more optimised engineering design and drives significant cost savings for operators
  • improves production recovery
  • assists operators and others in the oil and gas industry avoid costly offshore repair campaigns
  • addresses key industry knowledge gaps

Project Timeframe

This project is now complete.


Project Funding

Total Project Cost: $280,000

NERA: $140,000

Industry: $140,000

*Funding excludes GST