UWA Flow Assurance Symposia

December 2023 Symposium Summary

We are pleased to welcome you to the December 2023 UWA Flow Assurance Symposium. This event is designed to provide you with an opportunity to examine the ongoing flow assurance research within the Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks at The University of Western Australia. The feedback you provide on these presentations is critical to focussing our research efforts to advance both student outcomes and industrial capability. This meeting builds upon the research themes developed in our various Symposia and Workshops over the past nine years, and is organised around two themes of key importance to current and future energy production:

· Theme #1: Global Flow Assurance Partners. Our first session welcomes presentations from our academic partner institutions both foreign and domestic. Our first speaker will provide an overview of the recent activities at the Colorado School of Mines Centre for Hydrate Research. The CHR has been a pioneer of research into hydrates in flow assurance, developing both experimental and modelling techniques to interrogate the behaviour of these systems with a particular focus on oil dominated flow. Our second speaker, also from the CHR, will explore the opportunities for hydrate risk management strategies using naturally-occurring anti-agglomerants for oil dominated systems. This approach represents an innovative strategy for hydrate control using the intrinsic properties of the oil rather than chemically synthesised surfactants. These chemicals, which allow hydrates to form but seek to enable their transport in a flowable slurry have seen use internationally, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, but have yet to be brought online in the Australian context. The presentation will outline the potential benefits for moving ahead with an AA strategy, which, in the context of local gas-condensate fields may be coupled with a new generation of greener surfactants to provide benefits for local production systems. Our final presentation for the first session will see an overview of the corrosion research capabilities of our colleagues at the Curtin Corrosion Centre. These laboratories have a wide array of analytical techniques available to them, where the presentation will focus on several key aspects of corrosion in a flow assurance context, from extreme acidic environment testing to the corrosion influence of microorganisms, and finally introduce a new flow loop currently under construction at Curtin University.

· Theme #2: Kinetic Hydrate Inhibition. Our second session will focus on advances at UWA in the field of understanding kinetic hydrate inhibitors (KHIs). At previous Symposia we have detailed our ongoing efforts to characterise the nucleation of hydrates by taking large sets of formation data in our benchtop scale apparatus. Our work is now directed at the scale-up of this work for field applications. The first talk in this session will discuss a mathematical framework for predicting the likelihood that hydrate will form in a pipeline system. This enables prediction of a survival rate for flowing fluids transiting a production system as a function of the temperature they experience, and may be coupled to estimates of the severity of hydrate formation to arrive at an overall estimate of the risk posed by hydrate formation. Our second talk will detail the work we have undertaken to scale the outputs of our benchtop systems to the field. By understanding the critical interfaces for hydrate formation, and their interaction with kinetic inhibitors, we aim to support potential green- and brown-field KHI applications by applying small-scale experiments to generate useful predictive models for the field.

· Theme #3: Advances in Hydrate Modelling. Our last session will focus on tools for modelling hydrate equilibria and the effects of bulk hydrate formation in flowing systems. In the first talk, we will hear an update on the UWA cage specific hydrate model which has introduced a novel method for dealing with electrolytes. This physically based implementation requires no new adjustable parameters and enables more reliable predictions of the beneficial inhibiting effects of salts from formation water in production systems. The second talk will explore the suite of predictive tools available for understanding the severity of hydrate formation in pipeline systems. Pioneered by the Colorado School of Mines for oil dominant systems, UWA has now also generated models for gas and water systems which can be integrated with flow simulation software. This has enabled us to predict the consequence of hydrate formation in pipelines in terms of reduction in overall flowrates. Ultimately, this will enable a direct calculation to compare mitigation costs with foregone production losses to assist in evaluating how we deal with hydrates in production systems. Our final talk from an industry guest speaker will introduce a new fusion of modelling assets to aid in risk management of hydrates for subsea assets. Working together, UWA and KBC Advanced Technologies have released a hydrate growth and deposition predictive model for the Maximus integrated production modelling and flow assurance software. This advance will introduce a “traffic light” system to the software providing users with the ability to interrogate hydrates in gas dominant systems over the life of field.

Your feedback on the results presented here will inform our research activities over the coming year and new results will be presented at our next Flow Assurance Symposium, which has been scheduled for November 2024. Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or feedback after the meeting.

Dr Bruce Norris, Research Fellow, Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks: bruce.norris@uwa.edu.au
Prof. Zachary Aman, Chevron-Woodside Chair in Long Subsea Tiebacks: zachary.aman@uwa.edu.au

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