One of the biggest challenges faced by Oil & Gas industry, especially by production and flow assurance teams, is identifying the onset of, and mitigating the formation of organic deposits, such as hydrates.
Historically, thermal insulation, production pipe heating and inhibitor injection have been traditional techniques employed to handle these kind of deposits. As new drilling techniques are developed to reach deeper reservoirs, techniques to prevent and mitigate hydrate formation are becoming less viable. Therefore, a study and definition of new options is imperative to devise methods which apply to ever-emerging technologies.
While investigating such new options, engineers began to shift their perspective: instead of hydrate formation, the real problem is hydrate agglomeration, which may lead to pipeline blockage. However, if agglomeration is controlled, small hydrate particles would still be transported by the production fluid flow. By controlling agglomeration, the oil & gas industry will be able to operate inside its thermodynamic envelope, ultimately leading to CAPEX savings.
Based on this current scenario, a research consortium among ESSS, ISDB and Repsol Sinopec Brasil was formed and a project to develop a plug-in for ALFAsim to model hydrates formation, agglomeration and transportation was initiated. Named Orwell Project, the long-term objective is to create a reliable monitoring tool based on accurate models that would allow engineers to identify in real time whether hydrate will be an issue and help to develop mitigation techniques, so that safer operations can be implemented with significant savings.
This project was also funded by the R&D regulation from ANP, in Brazil.