Utilising the world's first industrial-scale laboratory jumper, owned by CSIRO and co-operated in partnership with UWA, in Perth, this NERA-supported collaborative project is delivering the first high-pressure, pilot scale insight into the mechanisms of hydrate blockage formation in subsea jumper systems.
Hydrates are natural occurrences — delicate ice-like structures whose lacey patterns are formed by gas and water. But when they accumulate and bond together in an unnatural environment such as in subsea pipelines, these tiny crystalline shapes cause colossal industry problems that can cost $1m per day to combat and up to $500m per asset to fully prevent.
Hydrates are considered to be the primary flow assurance challenge faced by our oil and gas industry.
Hydrates form when liquid water contacts gases, such as methane or ethane, at high pressure. When this process happens at seafloor temperatures, the gas becomes encased in the hydrate’s ice-like cage of water molecules.
Hydrates are considered a major engineering challenge that costs time, resources and money.
If hydrates start forming on a pipeline wall the way plaque deposits on a person’s arteries, the pipeline is going to convulse and the pressure required to pump fluid though the system will increase. If unmanaged, this build-up can ultimately block the pipeline, causing the system to shut down.
As a result, oil and gas operations currently work on the philosophy of complete hydrate avoidance, using conservative and expensive measures to prevent hydrates forming in the first place, controlling one or more of the four elements that make up a hydrate starter kit.
"Typically for companies, hydrate management is some combination of either depressuring the line, which can be a huge cost and increase down-time, or antifreeze injection which, for a typical offshore system, can cost in the neighbourhood of $200 to $500 million, depending on the size of the system and the amount of antifreeze required."
per day to combat hydrates
per asset to fully prevent
flow assurance challenge faced by industry
"This project shows us the power of industry collaboration, particularly for the operators that hold hundreds of assets around the world. Innovation, collaboration and a strong focus on research — and turning this knowledge into a solution — are so important to Australia remaining globally competitive."
Researching the multi-million dollar challenge of hydrates will have benefits not only for Australia, but for all international gas-condensate and crude oil developments where hydrates are an issue, allowing operators to reduce CAPEX associated with hydrate prevention.
Furthermore, multi-phase flow plays an important role in numerous industries, from cosmetics to food production, which means that understanding more about the dynamics of multi-phase flow is not only impactful to oil and gas but also carries important academic insight across multiple disciplines.
Start: September 2018
End: June 2020
Total Project Cost: $640,000
*Funding excludes GST