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Glenn Lively/Tenmar, Inc.
Copyright 2002, Offshore Technology Conference This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2002 Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas U.S.A., 6–9 May 2002. This paper was selected for presentation by the OTC Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference or its officers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented.
higher wellhead temperatures and faster, more efficient warmup after shut down. One effective method to reduce heat loss is Thin-Film (TF) insulation on the production tubing/casing or in combination with an insulating packer fluid. Flow assurance is an issue for mature fields as well as for deepwater developments. In many cases, as the flow rates decline flow assurance issues develop in the form of wax and paraffin deposition in oil wells and hydrates in gas wells. Even in relatively shallow offshore developments in less than 1000’ water depth, the seafloor temperature can be as low as 50°F. The cold water combined with a low flowing wellhead temperature (FWHT) is a tough combination to overcome, especially when field economics do not support extensive capital investment. Some wells have paraffin cloud points and hydrate formation at temperatures approaching the FWHT. In artificial lift wells where high pressure gas is injected through a gas lift valve, the venturi cooling effect on the production is significant thus impacting FWHT. In satellite wells where the produced fluid must flow to a host platform several miles away, the cold water often causes flow assurance problems in the flowline. In onshore fields where the winter temperatures fall below freezing the same problems encountered in offshore wells can exist. In all of these instances higher FWHT would help to counter the effects of the cold environment. TF insulation is a cost effective and versatile tool that is available to the project engineer for increasing FWHT. In many of these applications the high cost and long lead time for delivery of VIT eliminates that as an option. Severe applications would be ideal candidates for the combination of TF insulation and an insulating packer fluid. Some downhole applications do not need the level of insulation that VIT provides but would benefit from having an effective level of thermal insulation. TF insulation and insulating packer fluid provides significant thermal benefits at much lower cost than VIT. This paper discusses Thin-Film insulation as a method to prevent downhole heat loss. Laboratory results for thermal conductivity testing and material properties are presented. An insulating packer fluid is described. These technologies are discussed as individual methods to control heat loss and then as a combined method for controlling heat loss.
Abstract Thin-Film (TF) insulation combined with an insulating packer fluid is an effective and proven method for insulating downhole production tubing and casing in order to preserve reservoir heat and to enhance startup conditions. Modeling indicates that this system can increase FWHT by as much as 25°F-30°F as flow rates decline. Combining these technologies enables heat losses at couplings, valves, gauges and other components without insulation to be controlled. An aqueous based packer fluid inhibits the formation of convection currents that commonly occur in standard brine completion fluids, resulting in an overall heat transfer coefficient that is more than 10 times lower than standard completion fluids. These technologies are cost effective, readily available and provide numerous advantages over traditional completion systems. Until the last few years the only option for downhole insulation has been vacuum insulated tubing (VIT); however many applications cannot support the economics of VIT nor do they require the low thermal conductivity that VIT provides. Any one of these technologies can be used alone or in combination with another depending on the application. In some applications all three may be required to accomplish the objective. Introduction Downhole insulation allows the project engineer to begin the flow assurance solution at the perforations rather than at the wellhead. Insulating production tubing and casing will improve heat retention in the production stream thus providing
such as in the fields of aerospace and cryogenics. which uses a guarded hot plate method with one heat flow transducer.020” per layer with no limit on the number of layers that can be used. versatility. Thin layers of insulation have been used extensively in industries other than the petroleum industry. 1-8). TF insulation is a liquid epoxy coating that has been modified to provide resistance to heat flow. TF insulation has been in use since the 1950’s in the aerospace and cryogenic industries (Ref. One method used for downhole insulation has been vacuum insulated tubing (VIT). The tests were conducted using a 0. The coupling area is not vacuum insulated and has proven to be a major source of heat loss (Ref. It needs properties similar to the performance properties of the internal coatings that have been used in tubing and drill pipe for many years. LIVELY OTC 14118 Insulation History Managing heat loss has been a concern for the petroleum industry since the 1960’s when enhanced oil recovery through steam injection was developing.5”. Woven materials such as fiberglass and Ryton will add strength and toughness to the coating system. TF insulation can be applied to couplings. valves. Some of the advantages of TF insulation over traditional downhole insulating products are much lower cost. 3-oxide layer to foreign material interface resistance. durable and have a high temperature rating. This unit conforms to the allowed variations in both ASTM C177 and . This method enables normal handling equipment to be used during installation. VIT uses a pipe-in-pipe technology where the annulus between the pipes is evacuated to vacuum conditions. valves and gauges was significant. It is normally applied in layers that range from a thickness of 0. TF insulation is designed to meet those tough requirements. The overall thermal resistance values are increased when both the ID and the OD are insulated. Traditional measurement techniques. such as the guarded hot plate method. or limits the choice to a smaller production string. The thermal conductivity of both the uncoated test plates and the coated test plates was determined by using the Anacon Model 88 Thermal Conductivity Analyzer.25” to the OD. traditionally used to determine the thermal conductivity of bulk insulation material normally require a test specimen with a minimum thickness of 0. Insulated tubing was proven to be an effective method for retaining heat even though the total heat loss at the uninsulated couplings.5” thick aluminum plate that was coated with TF insulation. and when used on the ID corrosion protection and flow efficiency are realized. TF insulation adds less than 0. In order to minimize handling damage to the OD of coated pipe and to enhance thermal insulation values. 10-20). This problem has been well documented in the literature with various techniques used. gases and production chemicals. 2-the oxide layer resistance. gauges. smaller OD. Extensive research indicates that multiple layers have lower thermal conductivity than a much thicker single layer of the same material. enabling the design engineer to use larger production tubing without increasing casing size. excellent availability. and other components in the completion string that are not normally insulated. which restricts flowrates and limits use of downhole tools. Thin-Film Insulation As discussed above. Much research has focused on measuring and understanding the thermal conductivity of thin material and understanding the thermal resistance encountered at the junction between layers. 14) identified three distinct thermal resistances in the heat flow path: 1-the parent metal to oxide layer interface. The effect of thin multiple layers on heat flow has been studied since the 1950’s. yet withstand exposure to produced fluids. A modified test method using the traditional guarded hot plate test apparatus was used to determine the effective thermal conductivity for various TF insulation samples. thus addressing the historical problem of heat loss at these components. It needs to be tough. In order for downhole insulation to be effective in the harsh environment associated with producing conditions it needs to have material properties not normally associated with traditional insulation coatings. Thermal Conductivity Testing for TF Insulation Measuring the thermal conductivity of thin-film materials is more difficult that measuring that value for thick materials. In many cases modifying traditional testing methods was judged the most effective method for this type evaluation (Ref. 25). Additional benefits realized by using internal coating are corrosion protection and flow efficiency. Khan et al (Ref. which is much thicker than TF insulation. the TF insulation coating may be combined with a woven fabric.2 G. Other factors to consider regarding VIT is high cost and lengthy delivery schedules. Much work has been done to investigate the effectiveness of insulated production tubing along with insulating fluids and gases in the tubing/casing annulus (Ref. 1-5). 11-15). The pipe-in-pipe design has a larger OD than standard tubing thus requiring larger casing. The same characteristics that allow TF insulation to perform in those industries can also be applied to the petroleum industry. It may be used on either the ID or the OD of pipe. packers. which further increases well cost.010” to 0. The thermal effect of multiple layers of plastics have also been studied for process industries and found to have similar contact resistances between each layer of plastic as do metals and other laminated materials (Ref. After obtaining the thermal conductivity of coated and uncoated test plates the effective thermal conductivity for the TF insulation is determined by solving the heat flow equation.
10). Convection in annular fluids has been recognized as a source of heat loss and identified in the literature (Ref.038 .100 (2) Recall that thermal resistances are additive such that Rtotal = R1 + R2+……Rn (3) Substituting equation 2 in equation 3: (ℓ/kA) coated plate = (ℓ/kA) uncoated plate + (ℓ/kA) coating (4) Since area is constant in the experiment we now have: (ℓ/k) coated plate = (ℓ/k) uncoated plate + (ℓ/k) coating Then solve for kc: kc = _____ _ℓc _________ (ℓcp / kcp – ℓup / kup) (5) Insulating Packer Fluid An insulating packer fluid in the casing/tubing annulus is designed to perform the duty of a normal completion fluid while contributing important thermal resistance to the heat flow system. As expected the greatest improvement for FWHT is at lower rates.000” Thermal Conductivity . recall that simple one dimensional heat flow along the x dimension of the plane can be expressed by: qheat flow = kA∆T or q = ∆T ℓ R Therefore. The results were similar to the oil case where at the higher rate the impact on FWHT was 8-10°F but as the rate declined the impact was 16-20°F. ℓc is the thickness of the coating on each sample kc is the thermal conductivity of TF coating at the tested thickness ℓcp is the thickness of coated plate including the thickness of the coating kcp is the thermal conductivity of coated aluminum plate system as determined by the Anacon Model 88 ℓup is the thickness of the uncoated aluminum sample plate system kup is the thermal conductivity of the uncoated aluminum sample plate system as determined by the Anacon Model 88.based gels and are environmentally friendly. 12. The improvement at 5000 BPD was on the order of 12-15°F whereas at 500 BPD the improvement was 25-30°F. 2) The gas cases were run using flow rates of 15. It is anticipated at gas rates of less than 5 MMCFD the impact would be more dramatic.3.0 MMCFD. The oil case was run using flowrates ranging from 5000 BPD down to 500 BPD. The results were compared to a completion that used uninsulated tubing and standard completion brine.4. (Fig. 1) Where. Insulating packer fluids are aqueous.058” 0.5 and 10.OTC 14118 FLOW ASSURANCE BEGINS WITH DOWNHOLE INSULATION 3 C518. An insulating packer fluid eliminates the concern about heat loss from convection and it helps to provide heat resistance in areas of the wellbore that are not insulated by other means. The overall heat transfer coefficient for insulating packer fluids are 3. A gas filled annulus is subject to convection when placed under pressure and temperature resulting in a substantial reduction in its ability to impede heat loss.120” 1.000” 0.125” thick corkboard was inserted between the top of the sample and the heating element.045 .063 . R = ℓ kA k A ∆T ℓ conductivity area temperature difference thickness (1) Table 1—Thermal Conductivity Tests on Coated and Uncoated Aluminum Plates Sample Uncoated Aluminum Plate & Corkboard One-layer TF insulation Two-layer TF insulation Six-layer TF insulation Reinforced TF insulation Epoxy coating • conductivity units in BTU/Hr-Ft-°F Coating Thickness 0. Computer Model Several computer simulation flow models were run using generic well data in order to determine the theoretical effect on flowing wellhead temperature when TF insulation is used and then when TF insulation and an insulating packer fluid are combined. One of the features of an insulating packer fluid is its resistance to formation of convection cells. The effective thermal conductivity of the TF insulation was determined by solving the heat flow equation. a sheet of 0.5). 1-5).8 BTU/Hr-Ft2-°F (Ref. Table 1 shows the results of the various thermal conductivity tests for TF insulation. . These results demonstrate that multiple layers improve the effective thermal conductivity of TF insulation coating due to the resistance encountered at the junction of each layer to the adjoining layer. Convection can add to the heat loss by a factor of 10-20 times that of conduction (Ref. 2.123 .000” 1. First.5 BTU/Hr-Ft2-°F as compared to standard completion brines which have a value of 44.080” 0. Note that the 6-layer sample had a thickness that was roughly 30% less than the 2-layer sample yet achieved a lower thermal conductivity. Because the thermal conductivity of aluminum exceeds the range of the machine. (Fig.037 .
04 gr/c³ >3300 psi >4500 psi >140 psi Avg. TF insulation and insulating packer fluids are readily available and cost effective. Operators using production risers with threaded connections to join the pipe together can benefit from using TF insulation on the OD.69mm 6.8 25./no failure Excellent/28 days/95°C 28days @ 95°C/3.Overall Heat Transfer Coefficient for Insulating Packer Fluid Fluid Base Brine Partial Base Insul. Institute The Coatings Lab Bredero-Shaw Bredero-Shaw ITI Anti-Corrosion. TF insulation is versatile and should be used in applications where thermal insulation is required but where project economics limit the design engineer’s choice of materials and systems.125” of TF insulation and 1” of syntactic material can provide the same insulation value as 2” of syntactic material. further decreasing field development cost.4 G. For developments where flowline issues and cost control are important. In severe applications TF insulation can be combined with traditional insulation to lower development costs while providing an effective insulation system. 4. Fl.28 Viscosified Oil 0. TF insulation is tough and durable enough to handle make-up with minimal damage to the coating. 0. For instance. Inc. Inc.8mm 0. ITI Anti-Corrosion.Material Properties for TF Insulation Test Elongation at Break Density Adhesion to steel Uniaxial Compression Impact Resistance Cathodic Disbondment Thermal Conductivity Salt Fog Hot Water Soak Cathodic Disbondment Flexibility Autoclave Reel Test Surface Smoothness Method ASTM-D638 ASTM-D792-A ASTM-D4541 ASTM-D1621 ASTM-D2794 NACE RP0394 ISO-8302 ASTM B-117 CSA 245 . OHTC BTU/Hr/Ft2°F 44. TF insulation offers an attractive alternate.0 3. Table 2 . TF insulation can be used instead of FBE for corrosion protection on flowlines. the combination of TF insulation with a traditional insulation product can be a solution. thus helping significantly with flow assurance issues.36 Insulating Fluid 0. Conclusion The impact of downhole insulation on FWHT is dramatic.76% @ 0.063BTU/Hr-Ft-°F 5000 hrs. while also providing thermal insulation.20-98 NACE 0394-94K NACE TMO 185 30 Cycles/72”reel 12% Results Testing Facility ITI Anti-Corrosion. The versatility of thin-film insulation allows its use in a number of areas other than downhole applications. enabling the pipe to be installed in much the way casing is installed. Inc. Partech Quality Tubing. Installing a production riser with such a system in place would be fast and easy.014” No blistering w/ 25% CO2 No cracks RMS 35± µin Table 3 . In small offshore field developments where thermal insulation is required on the flowline but the type of pipe-inpipe system that is typically used in larger deepwater developments does not fit project economics. Inc ITI Anti-Corrosion. Anderson & Assoc. Inc. Inc. Inc. ITI Anti-Corrosion. A very effective alternate method to VIT for heat retention and to improve FWHT is a combination of TF insulation and insulating packer fluids. ITI Anti-Corrosion. Using TF insulation in that role eliminates the cost of the FBE and improves overall thermal performance of the insulation system.Fluid Conductivity Fluid k.Pack. Handling and installation offshore are less complicated due to the weight reduction and smaller OD. reducing the overall dimension of the flowline at significantly less cost.16-0.20-98 CSA 245. thermal conductivity BTU/Hr-Ft-°F Base Brine 0. Danish Tech. Inc. ITI Anti-Corrosion. LIVELY OTC 14118 Other Potential Applications While TF insulation is very effective for downhole applications it is versatile enough to use in other areas such as flowlines and production risers. A reduced OD can make reeling flowlines possible where traditionally it was not an option. Since TF insulation has excellent corrosion protection characteristics as well as a lower thermal conductivity than Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE). Flow assurance problems exist in mature fields as well as in deepwater developments.5 . 1.09 Table 4 .
5"OD x 3. 2 Impact on FWHT with Downhole Insulation 180 160 Temperature (F) 140 120 100 80 60 5000 3000 2000 Oil Rate--BPD 1000 500 No insulation Coating only Coating and InsulGel .5 Gas Rate-MMCF/D 10. 205F BHT Fig.0 Coating & InsulGel Coating only No Insulation 4. ID 9800' perfs.5" ID 7.OTC 14118 FLOW ASSURANCE BEGINS WITH DOWNHOLE INSULATION 5 Fig.50" Csg.0 12.1 Impact on FWHT with Downhole Insulation Gas Case 150 145 Temperature (F) 140 135 130 125 120 15.
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