August 13, 2019
Debottlenecking is an important operational initiative for many industries. To increase the capacity or throughput of a processing plant you would generally need to install new equipment which can be cost-prohibitive for many operators. The solution is debottlenecking; the process of increasing production out of existing plant or equipment by improving certain processes or revamping equipment. While the concept is not new, the IntecSea team has been exploring new ways to approach a problem identified in many debottlenecking studies – sand erosion in equipment. They have developed new technology to tackle this common issue.
What is sand erosion?
In the oil and gas industry, sand production is a common occurrence. When sand is encountered in an oil or gas reservoir it ends up being transported through the entire producing system. This detrimentally affects the throughput of the operations, but also the safe and reliable operation of equipment, as the sand erodes the equipment over time.
What is Erosion Control Technology?
The IntecSea team has developed Erosion Control Technology (ECT), which uses a novel approach for controlling sand erosion. It relies on the strategic placement of customised inserts within a flow path to reduce the concentrated effects of erosion. The advantage of ECT is that it’s conceptually simple and provides an adaptable solution. The customised inserts can be retrofitted for brownfield applications or considered for new developments to extract added value.]
Current State of Development
ECT ‘proof of concept’ testing was performed at the India Institute of Technology Delhi in their flow loop facilities using dry air and sand. During testing with the insert installed, erosion rates were significantly reduced at hot spots within the test bends and blind tees. Good correlation was also achieved with Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modelling to predict erosion rates under the test conditions.
Multiphase (air + water + sand) testing of a revised ECT prototype under real field conditions has now been performed at the Erosion/Corrosion Research Center at the University of Tulsa. The tests have shown a very significant reduction in erosion. At high gas condition (VSG 31 m/s) the reduction in erosion on the first elbow due to the ECT insert has been one order of magnitude lower. At low gas condition (VSG 23 m/s) the insert has eliminated the erosion on the 1st elbow.
The following figures show CFD modelling results indicating erosion hot spots and the resulting mitigation when an insert is installed.
What’s next for ECT?
The team is currently in discussions with a number of leading operators to conduct a field trial, targeted for 2020. The results of the trail will be presented to the wider oil and gas community and target potential applications of the technology to solve ongoing erosion issues.