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Page 1

July/August 2013

Pumping and Related Technology for Oil & Gas

I-IV Cover.indd I 7/22/13 2:38 PM

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Excellent
Oil & Gas
Solutions

MAXIMIZE LIFE.
REDUCE COST.
WITH SPM

®
DURALAST™
TECHNOLOGY.

CUSTOMER FOCUS PRESSURE PUMPING

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24 Upstream Pumping Solutions • July/August 2013

SPECIAL
s e c t i o n

A
s global energy demand con-
tinues to rise, operators are
pursuing new frontiers in oil

and gas exploration. Following several
years of steady gains, deepwater has
emerged as a leader in unconventional
oil and gas production. According to
an Information Handling Services
report, deepwater reserves accounted

for more than 75 percent of new dis-
coveries last year, exceeding onshore
and shallow water discoveries in num-
ber and size. Deepwater reservoirs are
typically located on the outer edge of
continental shelves and may be found
within the frigid confi nes of the Arc-
tic Circle. Both situations pose special
challenges to nearly every aspect of

oil and gas exploration and produc-
tion, including the installation and
operation of pipeline fl ow assurance
systems.

In subsea oil and gas production,
fl ow assurance insulation technolo-
gies used to prevent hydrate and wax
formation typically rely on external
coatings, known as wet insulation,

Pipeline Protection During
Deepwater Production
By Alexander Lane, Th e Dow Chemical Company

Wet insulation systems for subsea fl ow assurance provide reliable performance in
extreme environments.

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s e c t i o n

Performance of the system on line
pipe during reeling and installation

was tested via bend testing.

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www.upstreampumping.com 25

SUBSEA EQUIPMENT

that provide thermal protection and
corrosion control from the wellhead
to the delivery point. Polypropylene
and polyurethanes have long been
preferred materials for fl ow assurance
insulation, primarily because they
satisfy performance needs in a repeat-
able, cost-eff ective manner.

In deepwater environments, fl ow
assurance becomes more challeng-
ing because oil fl owing from the res-
ervoirs is oft en much hotter than oil
from shallow water or onshore wells.
At the other temperature extreme,
subsea Arctic wells face fl ow assur-
ance challenges because of extremely
cold ambient temperatures, which
can restrict the fl exibility of insula-
tion material and complicate pipe
reeling and installation. In both cases,
these conditions stretch or exceed the
thermal and mechanical capabilities
of current wet insulation off erings for
subsea fl ow assurance.

Flow Assurance
Solution
To bridge the performance gap, a
chemical company initiated a multi-
year research project to develop a
pipeline fl ow assurance insulation so-
lution that would reliably perform at
higher service temperatures and lower
installation temperatures. Joining
forces with insulation system applica-
tors worldwide, this initiative resulted
in the development of a subsea fl ow
assurance wet insulation system.

Th e subsea fl ow assurance wet
insulation system is based on a special
insulation material that off ers uni-
form performance from the wellhead
to the delivery point with a wide in-
stallation and operating temperature
range. Ongoing test data demonstrate
that the system has the ability to with-
stand pressures found at water depths
of at least 4,000 meters and main-
tain stable thermal conductivity at

in-service temperatures as high as 160
C (320 F). Testing also demonstrates
the system’s ability to retain fl exibility
and toughness in temperatures as low
as -40 C (-40 F).

Th e insulation system features a
hybrid polyether thermoset insula-
tion coating for thermal protection
and a fusion-bonded epoxy (FBE)
underlay for corrosion resistance.
Th e special FBE anti-corrosion coat-
ing is based on a specifi c epoxy resin
technology and is used for line pipe
and fi eld applications. Th e insulation
system maintains a consistent, low
K-factor across components and de-
livers thermal and corrosion protec-
tion using a single technology that
works from the wellhead to the deliv-
ery point. Th is feature helps improve
reliability at any foreseeable subsea
depth by reducing the potential risks
associated with bonding dissimilar
and potentially incompatible materi-
als used on line pipe, subsea architec-
ture and fi eld joints.

Testing System
Performance
Several tests were conducted in lab
and small-scale to ensure the insula-
tion system’s viability for component
coating, pipeline installation and long-
term service performance prior to
commercial-scale testing. In ring shear
testing, a coated pipe without a joint
was cut, and a section was evaluated
for system adhesion by quantifying

the force required to separate the dual-
layer system from the pipe.

During fl exural fatigue testing,
system fl exibility was tested by cy-
cling a coated pipe with a coated joint
100,000 times to imitate the vibra-
tion that may be experienced during
production. In thermal shock testing,
a coated pipe with a coated joint was
subjected to sudden changes in tem-
perature, cycling between 4 C (39.2
F) and 160 C (320 F) to simulate
sub-zero installation temperatures
and hot oil fl owing through a cold
pipe. Th ese extreme temperature fl uc-
tuations tested joint adhesion and the
overall mechanical integrity of the
system. In all cases, third-party testing
confi rmed that the mechanical prop-
erties demonstrated by the system in
lab and small-scale testing were fully
reproducible at full commercial scale.

Optimizing the
Application Process
In addition to extensive performance
testing, commercial-scale coating
trials were conducted to establish
simple, repeatable commercial ap-
plication processes. Across all three
application areas, the coating trials in-
dicated that the application processes
for the components of the insulation
system were complete and that the
system can be applied at full-scale.

Insulation for Line Pipe
Insulation for line pipe was success-
fully applied by a member of the glob-
al qualifi ed coater network at a new
pipe-coating facility near the Gulf
of Mexico. Th e chemical company
collaborated with this coater on the
full-scale qualifi cation of the special
line pipe insulation and worked to
optimize the insulation application
capability of the plant.

While full-scale pipe trials con-
tinued, a bending/straightening trial

The fl exural fatigue test demonstrated the
fl exibility of the system and its resilience
to vibrations that may be experienced

during production.

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Extreme-temperature environments
require extremely reliable ESPs.

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Selecting the right ESP system, one that can effectively handle abrasive, high-temperature
conditions, will extend the run life and enhance the production of your thermal recovery.
Stemming from three generations of design and 80 years of high-temperature experience, the
REDA HotlineSA3 ESP system provides field-proven reliability for hostile wells with bottomhole
temperatures up to 250 degC [482 degF].

HIGH-TEMPERATURE ESP SYSTEMS

REDA HotlineSA3

Find out more at

slb.com/hotlineSA3

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