Hydrate plugs can be extremely detrimental to any oilfield operation. In addition to potentially damaging oilfield equipment, hydrate plugs will require time and effort to resolve -- and on an oilfield, this can mean millions of wasted dollars in operational expenses. Hydrate plugs are comprised of minerals that bind together, forming hard blockages inside of oilfield lines.
1. Oilfield Line Heaters
Hydrate plugs are far more likely to occur when it is cold. The molecules of these structures can "freeze" at temperatures that are warmer than water would freeze at -- much like hot wax will solidify at room temperature. Oilfield line heaters are usually made of a series of hot coils that the oilfield lines are fed into. Liquids pass through the heater at a certain point, warming up the entire system of liquids. In addition to dissolving hydrate plugs, oilfield line heaters make the entire liquid solution more homogeneous, reducing viscosity and thus improving the flow. Line heaters are generally distinguished by the fluid quantity they can heat and how quickly they can heat that quantity.
2. Chemical Solvents
Anti-hydrate chemical solvents are often injected into oilfield lines to reduce the potential for hydrate plugs. There are downsides and upsides to this. The chemical solvents are not completely effective but can reduce the number of hydrate plugs that develop. Alcohol, glycol, and salts are among the most commonly used chemicals -- all of which make it more difficult for the hydrates to solidify. There are also hydrate inhibiting systems, such as gel systems, that are developed with the express goal of reducing hydrates within the lines.
3. Manual Agitation
High-pressure jetting and other manual extraction methods are commonly used to agitate hydrate plugs that have been found and to prevent the accumulation of hydrate plug formations. Manual agitation is the most effective method of breaking up and reducing hydrate plugs, but it's also the most difficult: it is a procedure that needs to be completed, rather than a set-and-forget system such as a line heater. For hydrate plugs that have already formed and are already blocking the oilfield lines, manual agitation or extraction is generally the only possible solution.
To a certain extent, it's impossible to fully avoid hydrate plugs -- they simply occur naturally within the liquids used in oilfield lines. With the above three methods, however, oilfields can avoid a significant amount of hydrate plugs, improving their efficiency and reducing wear on their equipment.
For more information on the types of equipment that you can use to prevent or eliminate hydrate plugs, click "go to site."
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