You are on page 1of 10

IBP1082_12 HYDRATE PREVENTION IN PETROLEUM PRODUCTION SUBSEA SYSTEM Paula L. F. Rodrigues1, Antonio P. Rodrigues2, Humberto A.R.


Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP
This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oi & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 17-20, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings

Resumo Apesar dos méritos das diversas técnicas de prevenção de hidrato atualmente utilizadas, tais como: injeção de produtos químicos para inibição e uso de isolamentos térmicos espessos nas linhas de produção; hidratos por vezes ocorrem e são responsáveis por perdas de produção consideráveis. Técnicas de despressurização podem ser utilizadas tanto para prevenção como na remediação. Parte das técnicas de remoção de hidrato requer o emprego de Sonda ou embarcação, de pouca disponibilidade e alto custo, se limitando a promover somente a remediação e não se prestando prevenção por despressurização. No presente trabalho é proposto e descrito um sistema de despressurização, remoto e residente, para prevenção e remoção de hidrato, aplicável tanto a poços submarinos individuais ou grupo de poços conectados através de manifold. Baseado em uma bomba de jato de baixo custo, sem partes móveis, de alta confiabilidade, onde todo acionamento da mesma fica residente na superfície, na Unidade de Produção. As linhas de alimentação do fluído motriz e de retorno da descarga da bomba de jato podem ser integradas numa única estrutura do umbilical eletro hidráulico ou linha de anular, sem aumento significativo nos custos de construção e instalação. Tal técnica permite a prevenção e remoção de hidrato, de forma rápida e remota, a partir da Unidade de Produção, não necessitando aguardar pela disponibilidade de recursos críticos e caros, tais como: embarcações ou Sondas. Reduz ainda o consumo de produtos químicos, já que é possível despressurizar linhas paradas; tendo como vantagem adicional poder ser utilizada na partida de poços através da despressurização das linhas e risers de produção.

Abstract In spite of the merits of the several hydrate prevention techniques used nowadays, such as: chemical product injection for inhibition and use of thick thermal insulate lines; hydrates per times happen and they are responsible for considerable production losses. Depressurization techniques can be used so much for prevention as in the remediation. Some hydrate removal techniques need a rig or vessel, resources not readily available and with high cost, reason that limits such techniques just for remediation and not for prevention. In the present work it is proposed and described an innovative depressurization system, remote and resident, for hydrate prevention and removal, applicable as for individual subsea wells as for grouped wells by manifold. Based on low cost jet pumps, without movable parts and with a high reliability, this technique allows hydrate prevention or remediation in a fast and remote way, operated from the production unit. The power fluid line and fluid return line can be integrated in the same umbilical or annulus line structure, without significant increase in the construction costs and installation. It is not necessary to wait for expensive resource mobilization, sometimes not available quickly, such as: vessels or rigs. It still reduces the chemical product consumption and permits to depressurize stopped lines. Other additional advantage, depressurization procedure can be used in the well starting, removing fluid until riser emptying.

_______________________ Technical Assistant, Graduating of the Petroleum Engineering - Universidade Estácio de Sá 2 Phd, Petroleum Engineer Professor - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte 3 Petroleum Engineering Professor - Universidade Estácio de Sá

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 1. Introduction In the deep water petroleum production with subsea wells, subsea equipments and flow lines work under high backpressure and low environment temperature. The produced fluid is usually composed of oil, gas and water. Under certain conditions, high pressure and low temperature, the gas in direct contact with water can form hydrates. Wet Christmas trees, installed in deep waters, usually have three vertical connection modules: production, annulus and umbilical. CHAPMAN describes several hydrate prevention techniques, among them: chemical product injection inhibitor, pipe heating, depressurization, thick thermal insulations. BARDON and ROTH describe heating systems to prevent hydrates and wax. For remediation operations, it is more practical the subsea line and equipment depressurization instead to increase the temperature. In spite of the merits, the current prevention techniques don't eliminate hydrate occurrence that are still responsible for considerable production losses. For these reasons, subsea production system projects try to mitigate the hydrate and wax formation probability. However, per times, during the production hydrates it happens, forcing operations for their remediation. Depressurization techniques are mentioned and described in several papers, where "COCHRAN presents the depressurization technique as the most applied for hydrate remediation". In 1986, "KELLEY filed a patent application for a system based on depressurization." An important condition should be analyzed and considered in hydrate prevention projects: the well position in relation to FPSO, descending or ascending wells are showed in Figure 1. Usually descending wells require depressurization as in WCT as in riser base.

Fig. 1 - Ascending (left) and descending (right) wells

Another important condition is to verify if the well has a satellite or manifold configuration. Satellite wells can be depressurized individually. Wells connected with manifold need resident systems, making an individual depressurization easier. The present work proposes an innovative depressurization system, resident, integrated with subsea equipments and lines. Operated remotely and immediately, needless rigs or vessels, acting as in prevention as in remediation; giving a quite valuable competitive advantage for this technique. 2 - Depressurization as prevention and remediation method Temperature is the main variable that determines the paraffin deposit. Temperature and pressure are the main variables that influence hydrate formation and remediation. Figure 2 shows hydrate curves for a certain oil type. The blue curve represents the hydrate envelope without inhibitor. The green, yellow and white curves represent the displacement due the progressive inhibitor addition.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012

Fig. 2 - Graph shows hydrate curves for a certain oil type. "SCANS MOIGN, in the US 2010/0047022 American patent application dated from 2008, describes a system for hydrate removal based on an intervention vessel equipped with a coiled tubing unit that is connected directly on WCT top, creating an open belt. A belt extremity is connected with a production unit and other with a vessel, allowing both extremities depressurization.” In spite of the merits of such innovative conception, there continues to be considerable production losses, during several days, until vessel can be mobilized. Besides, the pressure reduction process, depressurization, uses nitrogen circulation and it do not use any bottom pump, what turns the depressurization slower and less efficient. That system is only mobilized after the hydrate formation, being just a remediation method and not applied to prevention. Although, be desirable the depressurization of both hydrated line extremities, it is common for operational limitations to execute the depressurization just in one extremity. The depressurization technique can still be applied in injector wells and gas/water alternate injection systems, known as WAG, which presents great hydrate formation risk in deep water conditions. The depressurization has additional applications, among them: the disconnection and recovery of pressurized subsea equipments, for example: subsea separation modules of Caisson type. The riser depressurization can still be used for well start with freezing risk.

3 – Riser base depressurization executed through a coiled tubing unit deployed from a production unit Production lines can be depressurized starting from the extremity that is connected with production unit, deploying coiled tubing inside of the production riser for cyclical depressurization and nitrogen injection. Per times, such production unit doesn't have resources or space to allow the coiled tubing unit assembly; or such procedure is not capable to solve hydrates mainly in descending well cases. In descendent well, the production unit is anchored deeper than the well head, is recommended when possible to install dual depressurization system, one in WCT and other in riser base.

4 - Depressurization in WCT through annulus line The production line and respective WCT can be depressurized through the annulus line, opening cross over valve, communicating annulus and production lines. This method presents some limitations, such as: if the service line is liquid full, the liquid should be moved through gas lift or nitrogen and later depressurized. This operation is not always possible and it can delay dozens of hours. Besides, the hydrate can also be formed in the service line, impeding the application of such procedure. For wells connected with manifolds, depressurization operations can implicate to close multiple wells or to reduce the production. 3

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012

5 – WCT depressurization through completion riser and rig An extreme resource for hydrate remediation usually used when the service line access is blocked, is to promote the depressurization operation from WCT, through a completion rig and riser. This method can be applied for hydrate remediation both in the service and production line. The depressurization operation through rigs can be based on nitrogen cyclical injection or through a pump and coiled tubing unit. "DUKE describes a tool, known by Well-Vac, that drives a jet pump operated by a concentric coiled tubing unit. This tool was tested and used, by Petrobras, with success for hydrate removal operations in deep water flow lines. It is deployed inside of a drill pipe riser operated through an offshore rig." Therefore, the use of jet pumps for hydrate depressurization can be considered technically viable and prequalified for similarity, for water depths till 2000 meters. Due to the operation complexity that requires riser and rig, this procedure can spend many days, extremely burdening the costs.

6 – Depressurization in the riser base or WCT through ROV and vessel In the service market there are vessels equipped with electric subsea pumps and spoilable and flexible risers. Such systems can be connected hydraulically with subsea equipments making possible depressurization operations. Some limitations and disadvantages are: it is necessary a hydraulic connection point besides the mobilization time and vessel operation. The used pump should support high free gas fractions or a gas liquid separator should be used together with the pump. This technique can be used for depressurization any hydraulic access point located between WCT and the riser base. The removed fluid can be sent to a subsea skid vessel or to a vessel through a coiled tubing unit. This vessel should be insured and classified to receive oil on board. The companies: Oceaneering and Wright's Well Control Services (WWCS) describe in their internet sites ROV depressurization systems, applied with success in the hydrate dissolution in Golf of Mexico`s deep waters. "WELLS of WWCS details a hydrate dissolution system operated by ROV, applied in the 12" Canyon Express` pipeline, for 2000 meter depths." “WRIGHT is studying how the Hydrate Remediation System could be engineered to remain dormant subsea adjacent to a pipeline for more rapid deployment and remediation of a hydrate or blockage at the first sign of formation. An additional strategy is the placement of hydrate access points at strategic intervals along a new or rehabilitated pipeline, minimizing the distance and optimizing performance for drawing down a vacuum, to clear the affected asset.”

7 - Depressurization difficulties of connected wells with manifold The satellite wells can be depressurized individually. Producing wells interlinked with manifold require resident systems in the manifolds, making the individual depressurization possible, mainly in remediation cases, avoiding production stops in other wells. In prevention operations, in some cases it is possible to depressurize all wells simultaneously through the manifold output line.

8 - Innovative proposal: Remote depressurization in the riser base or in WCT or in manifold, through resident pump Usually the subsea wells are far some kilometers of the production unit. It is highly desirable to accomplish hydrate prevention and remediation operations, in an immediate and remote way, needless of rig or vessel, reducing or eliminating production losses. It is proposed a resident and integrated depressurization system, with subsea equipments, remote and immediately operated, based on jet pumps, see Figure 3. A low cost pump, without movable parts, with high reliability; where the power fluid unit is at surface, on the production unit.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012




Fig. 3 – Jet pump diagram The power fluid and discharge return lines can be integrated in the unique structure of an electro hydraulic umbilical or annulus line. This permits a production infrastructure optimization, without significant increase in the construction and installation costs. This innovative conception presents the following advantages: - hydrate prevention and remediation in an immediate and remote way, from the production unit; - line depressurization is possible, in case of production unit shut down; - low chemical product use; - it facilitates well starting through the production riser depressurization, mainly for viscous oil; - it reduces stops and production losses, because it is possible to immediate depressurize the line, no need to wait for the readiness of critical and expensive resources, such as: vessels or Rigs; - it allows to clean and depressurize subsea equipments, previously, before the recovery them; - it is applied easily in production systems with manifold; - it is integrated easily with subsea equipments and lines, not burdening the construction costs and installation. The system now proposed, based on low cost and high reliability subsea pump, facilitates the hydrate prevention or removal, without rig or vessel, through a slow and continue depressurization, with duration as long as necessary. It is possible to combine riser base depressurization systems with subsea equipment depressurization systems, for instance: in WCT or in manifold; becoming feasible the depressurization in two extremities, making the faster and safer operation. The depressurization system can also be integrated with riser base gas lift systems. A subsea electrical or hydraulic pump can be integrated with several subsea equipments, among them: WCT cap, a subsea vertical connection module, a manifold, a riser, a PLET, an umbilical termination assembly - UTA; making possible depressurization operations as preventive as corrective measure. "MANCINI describes several oil sampling systems by ROV." The subsea oil sampling has application in reservoir production managing and multiphase gauge calibration, where the media sampling frequency is 3 years. The depressurization system, described, can be used for produced oil sampling. In this case, MEG can be used as power fluid because it is easier recovery and separate it, in laboratory analysis or mini separation plant installed in the production unit. Such method would have advantages, for example: it is easier frequent sampling and do not have limitation in the sampling volume. The removed fluid can be re injected in well or existent line or returned for UP through a small diameter auxiliary line. This auxiliary line can be integrated with an electro hydraulic umbilical or annulus line. The depressurization system can also be set up in a recoverable module by cable and boat, making easier eventual maintenances. 5

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Due system simplicity and low cost, it is possible to distribute and to connect a depressurization system group in: equipments, lines and riser bases. The hydrate prevention and remediation may be executed for multiple points, simultaneously and remotely, operated from production unit. A surface pump moves and feeds power fluid through a line for depressurization systems located on sea bottom. Several substances can be used as power fluid, with addition hydrate inhibitor, such as: methanol, ethanol or Meg. In spite of this proposal technique has not still tested and used, it is promising, since it uses a described similar application by “DUKE”; with the advantage: it is a resident system that doesn't request rig or vessel mobilization. "PRASAD also describes a line fluid removal system through jet pump". Additionally "PETZET reports jet pump applications for methane hydrate depressurization and production in Alaska reservoirs"; demonstrating together with DUKE'S work, the promising future of jet pump systems for hydrate dissolution. 8.1 - Resident depressurization system in WCT In this conception, a jet pump is set up integrated to a WCT cap, operated remotely of the production unit, vide Figure 4. The pump is hydraulic driven by a power fluid line integrated with an umbilical from production unit. Valves allow selecting at least a suction point, that can be in the: production line, annulus line or production tubing. The umbilical can have a second auxiliary line, right Fig. 4, for return of the suctioned fluid, giving larger flexibility and operational reliability. The power line and fluid return line can be integrated with the electro hydraulic umbilical, in a single structure denominated integrated umbilical.

Fig. 4 – Depressurization in WCT cap

In accord with the position, open or closed, of a valve group it is selected which point will be suctioned and depressurized, for instance: production column, production line or annulus line. Equally, depending on discharge valve position, the output fluid can be addressed for different points, for instance: production line, annulus line, production column or an auxiliary return line. In case of production shut down, programmed and not programmed, it is possible depressurize flow lines and equipments, for instance: WCT, with the purpose of hydrate prevention or remediation if hydrates have already been occurred.

8.2 - Resident depressurization system in an UTA Alternatively a jet pump can be integrated with an umbilical termination assembly - UTA. The jet pump suction is connected hydraulically with the production line through a hydraulic hose known by flying lead, performed operation by a remote operated vehicle - ROV. The production line depressurization point can be located in a connection vertical 6

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 module of any subsea equipment, see Figure 5. In this conception, it is necessary small modifications in the subsea equipments, in the case a WCT, to provide one or more depressurization points in the same.

Fig. 5 – Depressurization system in UTA connected with a production MCV

8.3 - Resident depressurization system in the riser base In this embodiment, a depressurization system is set up in a riser base; see Figure 6, allowing remote depressurization by production unit side. The depressurization system can be set up directly on an UTA or a PLET. "JAYAWARDENA proposes that a gas lift systems in the riser base can be used to remove riser liquid and flowline depressurization, acting as prevention as hydrate remediation in shut down occurrences."


Fig. 6 – Depressurization system in UTA connected with production riser base

8.4 – Depressurization through two extremities It is possible to depressurize riser base and subsea equipments, for instance: a WCT or a manifold, vide Figure 7. The both extremity depressurization becomes the operation faster and more safety.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012














In line UTA

Fig. 7 – Depressurization system connected with WCT and riser base In this case the umbilical can have three auxiliary lines: the first for WCT power fluid, second for riser base power fluid and the third one for return line common for WCT and riser base.

8.5 – Depressurization and sampling in manifold It is possible to add at least a depressurization system in manifolds, making possible individual depressurization of each well flow line, vide Figure 8. It is possible still to use the depressurization system to sampling each well flow line. MEG can be used as power fluid to become easier the separation and oil characterization.

Fig. 8 – Depressurization system connected to the well flow lines 8

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 8.6 - Project parameters and dimensioning Usually, the subsea production systems are projected with thermal isolation, for in case of production stops they maintain for some hours the temperatures above the hydrate envelope. Usually it is adopted cool down time from 6 to 8 hours. Therefore, if the objective is hydrate prevention, the systems should be projected to keep temperatures above hydrate envelope for at least 8 hours. In some conditions, with big diameter and long lines, the necessary depressurization flows can be bigger than the obtained flows with umbilical integrated lines. In this case, the complete depressurization will take more time with hydrate risk. If hydrates happen, additional depressurization hours will be dissolved them. Usually, jet pump operates with power fluid flow 2 to 3 times the pumped fluid flow that represents the removed total amount from line and equipments. Due to the power fluid line diameter limitations and involved distances, it is recommended to use low viscosity power fluid, for instance: ethanol. For depressurization not so far, for example: in riser base, diesel and ethanol compositions can be used. For a jet pump pre-dimensioning, several manufacturer proprietary software can be used. Among them, there is a feeless simplified program that can be executed through Internet, in the address /. Using the referred program for a simplified estimative example of a riser base depressurization system, with the following data: Depth: 5000 feet Riser: 6¨ Volume to be removed: 1/3 of 5000 feet Power fluid pressure: 5000 psi, steel tubing usual limit Hydrated line pressure: 1000 psi, it should be depressurized below 150 psi Surface separator pressure: 70 psi Tubing ID 1" Tubing OD 1,2" Casing ID 2" For a jet pump with Nozzle identifier 4 and throat identifier 1, with reverse flow, it was obtained: Removed flow (pumped): 261 bpd Power fluid flow: 548 bpd Total flow (power + removed): 809 bpd In the jet pump pressures are: Suction: 112 psi Discharge: 3146 psi Power fluid entrance: 7064 psi For a jet pump with Nozzle identifier 5 and throat identifier 1, with normal flow, more appropriate condition for the involved diameters, was obtained: Removed flow (pumped): 431 bpd Power fluid flow: 678 bpd Total flow (power +removed) = 1110 bpd In the jet pump the pressures are: Suction: 105 psi Discharge: 2522 psi Power fluid entrance: 6489 psi The 6" flow line or riser volume is 18 m3/Km or 108 barrels/Km Therefore the time to remove the liquid from a 1000 meters 6" riser is approximately 108/261 days = 10 hours with reverse flow and 108/431 days = 6 hours for normal flow Result: This jet pump can be used in the: hydrate prevention and remediation, well start and well sampling


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 9 - Conclusion Subsea equipments, such as: wet Christmas tree, vertical connection module, manifold, production riser or subsea flow lines, umbilical termination units; can be connected and integrated with resident depressurization systems based on jet pump, making possible the petroleum production, with smaller loss risk by hydrate. The addition of two small diameter lines, type steel tubing, in the electro hydraulic umbilical, one for power fluid feeding and other for fluid return, it is relatively simple not bringing great impacts in the project total costs. In case of production shut down, planned and not planned, it is possible to depressurize preventively equipments and subsea lines, avoiding the formation or even hydrate dissolving that have already been formed. The remote depressurization technique through resident jet pump, operated from a production unit, without need an offshore vessel or rig, can be applied as in green as brown projects, with few adaptations. This technique can also be applied in the: riser depressurization to help the freezing risk oil system startup, subsea equipment depressurization before recovery then to surface and produced oil sampling in subsea wells. The depressurization systems can also, in specific cases, be used during normal operations for liquid and gas removal from lines, avoiding severe slugs. Although the conceptions and depressurization systems proposed in this work have not been applied yet, they are based on qualified and tested equipments and systems for hydrate dissolution, for instance: "the applications described by DUKE and PETZET". Reason for which, the system proposed in this work presents great success potential.

10. Acknowledgement The authors thank everyone that collaborated direct and indirectly with this work; and also to the Petroleum Brazilian Institute (Instituto Brasileiro de Petróleo), IBP, for the opportunity to expose these new technologies. The authors alert that the presented perceptions and opinions are resulted of academic research work, necessarily not reflecting school or company opinions which authors maintain professional relationship.

11. References

BARDON, FRANÇOIS, ET AL, Hydrate Prevention with Electrically Heated Jumpers, OTC 18773, Houston, 03/05/2007. CHAPMAN, M, SHUKLA, K., Non Chemical solutions enhance flow assurance options, Offshore Magazine, April 2012. COCHRAN, STEVEN, Hydrate Control and Remediation Best Practices in Deepwater Oil Developments, OTC 15255, Houston, 05/05/2003. DUQUE, LUIS, ET AL, Concentric Coiled Tubing Well Vacuuming provides a solution for Flowline Hydrates Removal Offshore Brazil, SPE 153358, Icota, 28 March 2012. JAYAWARDENA, SUBASH S., ET AL, The Use of Subsea Gas Lift in Deepwater Applications, OTC 18820, Houston, 3 May 2007. KELLEY, BRUCE T., Exxon, Method and apparatus to prevent hydrate formation in full wellstream pipelines, US 4589434, site, 20/05/1986. LE MOIGN, YVES, Schlumberger, Subsea Flow Line Plug Remediation, US 2010/0047022, site, 20/08/2008. MANCINI, CHRISTOPHER, TURNBULL, JOSHUA, Introduction to Remote Operated Vehicle Assisted Subsea Sampling, OTC 21324, Houston, May 2011. PETZET, ALAN, Article ConocoPhillips group evaluating Alaska Hydrate test, Oil&Gas Journal, 04/05/2012. PRASAD, AMIT, Flow Assurance in Flexible Floating Hose Strings by Using Eductors, Rio Pipeline, Rio de Janeiro, 2011. ROTH, REBECCA F., Direct Electrical Heating of Flowlines – Guide to Uses and Benefits, OTC 22631, Rio de Janeiro, 2011. WELLS, JAMES C., Successful Hydrate Remediation in Ultra-Deepwater GOM, Subsea Tieback Forum SSTB, 2011. WRIGHT, DAVID C., New system address Deepwater Pipeline Hydrate Remediation, Offshore Magazine, June 2012.