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    Pipelines in Deep Water - new industry-wide effort

    News // April 5, 2001
    A new joint industry programme is to be launched this month by InterCorrInternational and Shell Global Solutions that will investigate cost-effective and reliable systems for monitoring corrosion and flow assurance in subsea pipelines.

    In addition to Shell, other oil companies taking a lead role in the programme include BP, Intevep-PVDSA, the R&D arm of Venezuela's national oil company, and Petrobras, the national oil company of Brazil. Input gained through two focus group meetings with these and other companies has helped to develop the scope of work for the joint industry effort.

    "We expect to have about 10-15 participants... including oil and gas producers, major suppliers and service companies," said a spokesperson for InterCorr.

    Offshore oil comes from the ground in flow lines at high temperature, but then is rapidly cooled by deep water at low temperatures once it is in thesubsea pipeline. This can cause precipitation of water that increasescorrosion and can also cause deposition of waxy substances, both of which can jeopardise flow, system integrity and ongoing operations.

    Until recently, producers saw the rate of flow and corrosion of pipelines as independent problems. The new InterCorr/Shell Global study will address both of these concerns and, its is hoped, provide a common solution.

    One of the problems currently experienced by deepwater operators is thatonly limited monitoring options are available today and none has been provenin deep water service.

    The major purpose of the InterCorr project will be to integrate several monitoring capabilities into a single unit and verify their performance under simulated deep water conditions in advance of a field trial.

    The project will be used to develop an enhanced, multifunctional monitoringcapability that integrates existing, high reliability technologies capable of monitoring corrosion and flow assurance. This system will be adaptable to subsea, pipe-in-pipe, insulated or buried flowlines. The programme will also provide a demonstration of long-term system performance and reliability under simulated deep water conditions.

    Effective corrosion monitoring and flow assurance of subsea flowline installations remains a challenge. In deep water projects, flow lines are themost capital-intensive parts of the project. In the Gulf of Mexico and manyother field developments around the world, these lines are made from carbonand low alloy steels to minimise cost.

    However, to achieve this cost benefit, the carbon and low alloy steels must be adequately protected against corrosion by chemical inhibitors and must be monitored for sand erosion, scaling and organic solids deposition which jeopardise production.

    Excessive deterioration or loss of flow can lead to lost production, failure, or the need for repair. The consequences in deep water can range from very expensive to cost prohibitive. Therefore, it is critical to developpipeline monitoring capabilities for deep water systems.

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