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OTC 17355

Hydrate Prevention using MEG instead of MeOH: Impact of experience from major
Norwegian developments on technology selection for injection and recovery of MEG
S. Brustad, K.-P. Lken, and J.G. Waalmann, Aker Kvrner Engineering and Technology

Copyright 2005, Offshore Technology Conference


gathering architecture, chemical hydrate inhibitors (glycols
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2005 Offshore Technology Conference held in and alcohols) are considered the best option.
Houston, TX, U.S.A., 25 May 2005.

This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC Program Committee following review of
information contained in a proposal submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
Part 1 Selecting hydrate inhibitor: Comparing MEG
presented, have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to and MeOH
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its officers, or members. Papers presented at
OTC are subject to publication review by Sponsor Society Committees of the Offshore
Technology Conference. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this
Chemical hydrate inhibitors
paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Offshore Technology
Conference is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to a proposal of not
more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The proposal must contain conspicuous Chemical hydrate inhibitors can be arranged in two main
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, OTC, P.O.
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.
categories:
Thermodynamic Hydrate Inhibitors (THI)
Abstract Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors (LDHI)
The four Norwegian gas/condensate field developments Troll,
Snhvit, Ormen Lange and sgard are used together with The latter category consists of Anti Agglomerants (AA) and
amongst others Britannia Satellites (ConocoPhillips) and Shah Kinetic Hydrate Inhibitors (KHI). These new and promising
Deniz (BP) to illustrate experience and technology status chemicals are becoming popular in the GoM and on the UK
related to injection and recovery of MEG (Mono Ethylene sector. However, for long distance gas-condensate tie-backs,
Glycol). especially in cold waters, they have serious limitations. AAs
generally require a certain amount of condensate (continuous
A comparison between MEG and MeOH is presented. oil phase) in order to be effective. KHIs can only give a
Advantages, limitations and cost elements (CAPEX/OPEX) by limited suppression of the hydrate formation point, and they
use of glycol (MEG) vs. alcohols (Methanol/Ethanol) are are not proven to be fully effective at higher pressures.
reviewed and discussed in relation to their applicability.
Thermodynamic inhibitors cost
Based on experience, typical operational problems within
closed loop MEG systems with salt- and water removal are This means that THIs are the robust choice for long distance
carbonate scale deposits in pipeline and recovery systems, gas-condensate tie-backs. The thermodynamic inhibitors of
accumulation of corrosion products and other small particles widest use are methanol (MeOH) and monoethylene glycol
and carry-over/foaming. A holistic approach for proper design (MEG). Other alcohols and glycols may be used, but two main
and prevention of these and other incidents are presented. factors making methanol and MEG the most common
thermodynamic inhibitors are hydrate suppression
Introduction performance (see Table 2) and cost.
Proper hydrate management is vital for all field developments.
For short and moderate tie-backs, flowline insulation Rough costs are given in Table 1, where it is seen that the
(maintaining fluid temperature above the hydrate formation common thermodynamic inhibitors are relatively cheap per
temperature) combined with a depressurisation strategy, is unit volume. However, since large quantities may be necessary
normally the basic method. For developments with cold well to suppress the equilibrium temperature below the lowest
fluids, systems which are difficult to depressurise or restart operational temperature expected in the system, the
(deep water), and for general improvement of the field infrastructure cost may add up to significant amounts.
regularity, flowline heating is an additional element. For Necessary considerations to make when designing for a
deepwater developments, the hydrate management is often hydrate strategy with thermodynamic inhibitors are storage
based on displacement with stabilized oil, or built around a volumes and regeneration facilities.
subsea separation concept /4/. For appropriate fluids, Cold
Flow may turn out to be the next quantum leap. However, for
long distance gas-condensate tie-backs with complex subsea
2 OTC 17355

o
Table 1 - Rough costs for common thermodynamic inhibitors Table 2 - Calculated values of depression of hydrate point ( C) for
based on ICIS-LOR (February 2005) various thermodynamic inhibitors (Kelland 2000 /7/).
Depression of hydrate point [oC]
Chemical Cost USD/Metric Tonne MeOH EtOH MEG DEG TEG NaCl
Concentration
MeOH 300 of inhibitor
MEG 900 [wt%]
Offshore shipping cost is approximately 150-200 USD/tonne 5 2.0 1.4 1.05 0.63 0.46 1.96
of chemical. 10 4.2 3.0 2.25 1.4 1.05 4.3
20 9.3 6.6 5.2 3.3 2.7 10.7
It should be noted that the cost numbers tend to fluctuate over 30 15.3 10.7 9.0 5.9 5.0 15.0
time. Lately the price of MEG has shown a rising tendency 35 18.6 13.0 11.35 7.5 6.5 -
due to an increasing demand from the Chinese textile industry
40 22.2 15.4 14.0 9.3 8.2 -
in particular.
It is also important to realize that the actual OPEX is
significantly governed by the chemical losses and the make-up THI regeneration
required to cover for these losses (see Table 3).
Both MEG and MeOH may be readily regenerated, although
THIs and suppression performance there are limitations regarding salinity of the produced water
for conventional MEG regeneration facilities. However, e.g.
The lower the molecular weight, the better the hydrate Kvaerner Process Systems (KPS) has overcome this with their
suppression performance, hence, MEG yields better continuos reclamation facilities, which is installed on the
performance per mass basis compared to TEG (triethylene sgard B semi. Apart from some possible, field-specific
glycol), and methanol yields better performance than ethanol aromatics and phenols following the water-phase, the water
etc. Figure 1 shows the relative performance of some leaving such a regeneration facility is very clean. Also, as the
thermodynamic inhibitors; NaCl, methanol and MEG. The glycol has rather low solubility in the gas phase, the
more the equilibrium line is shifted to the left, the more contamination of the gas phase using MEG as a hydrate
effective is the inhibitor, and the larger is the safe area inhibitor is insignificant. When it comes to MeOH, the losses
(conditions where hydrate formation will not take place). to the gas phase are significant, and the methanol
concentration in the water leaving the regeneration facilities
must be evaluated against the height of the distillation column.
A distillation process can reclaim both chemicals, but also due
to the low vapour pressure of MEG, a smaller, high-
temperature-recovery column may be used for MEG
regeneration compared to MeOH regeneration.

MeOH regeneration is in operation on a limited number of


installations in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Far East,
including the Shell Malampaya onshore facility in the
Phillipines and the Williams Canyon Station platform (part of
the Canyon Express system) in the GoM. The industry
knowledge on the cost-effectiveness of these systems is fairly
limited, since recovering a volatile like methanol is not
straight-forward. The presence of aromatics in the condensates
only makes life more difficult due to the formation of
Figure 1 - Effect of thermodynamic inhibitors on hydrate stability azeotropes.
for a real fluid. Simulated in PVTsim.

A rough guide to compare the performance of a number of THI losses and product contamination
thermodynamic inhibitors is given below.
E. D. Sloan /8/ presents the following rules-of-thumb in order
to account for the inhibitor losses to the gas and condensate
phases:
OTC 17355 3

Table 3 - Rules-of-thumb for estimating inhibitor losses to the gas number of developments are today basing the corrosion
and condensate phases (Sloan 2000 /8/).
philosophy on carbon steel pipelines, MEG and pH
Loss to gas phase Loss to condensate stabilization. MeOH gives no benefit on corrosion resistance.
phase
Methanol At 4oC and pressures The methanol THIs and HSE
higher than 70 bar, the concentration dissolved in
methanol lost to the condensate is 0.5 weight%.
vapour phase is 16 kg per MEG is non-flammable, with a flash point at 111 oC. MeOH is
106 Sm3 gas for every highly flammable with a flash point at 11 oC. This clearly
weight% methanol in the indicates that MeOH presents a greater safety risk with respect
water phase. to handling and storage (especially on offshore installations
MEG At 4oC and pressures The mole fraction of MEG with limited area). Furthermore, MeOH burns with an
higher than 70 bar, the in a liquid hydrocarbon at invisible flame, making fire detection a more difficult
maximum amount of MEG 4oC is 0.03 % of the water- problem.
lost to the gas is 0.3 kg per phase mole fraction of
106 Sm3 gas. MEG. MEG regeneration plants with de-salting (reclamation) will
produce a waste product that mainly consists of salt. MeOH
Based on the above rules-of-thumb, the total methanol loss regeneration, on the other hand, does not produce any solid
from a field, with typical 30 wt% MeOH in the water phase, waste. It is however possible to re-dissolve the salts from a
will be app. 500 kg per 106 Sm3 gas and 50 kg per 1000 kg MEG reclaimer before disposal to sea.
condensate. As Table 3 shows the MEG lost to the gas is only
is 0.3 kg per 106 Sm3 gas, independent of the weight% of THIs and viscosity
MEG in the water phase. Hence the MEG losses are negligible
compared to the MeOH losses. The MeOH losses also MEG is significantly more viscous than MeOH, especially at
increases substantially with increased temperaure. At 10oC the low temperatures (which is the case for the most relevant field
loss to the vapour phase is app. 25 kg per 106 Sm3 gas for developments). This means that a MEG injection system will
every weight% methanol in the water phase. require a larger diameter injection line and/or more pumping
horsepower.
This also raises operational and environmental issues with
respect to methanol regeneration. In addition, depending on THIs combined with KHIs
the customer, there might be a need for decontaminating the
gas phase because of the high MeOH content (as described For the Nuggets development in UK (tie-back to the Alwyn
above). This might also introduce a significant investment cost North platform), Total has investigated a hydrate inhibitor
that must be included in the comparison. Alternatively there strategy combining MEG with KHI for the peak water
might be a cost penalty due to pollution of the product. production period. The reason is a requirement to limit the
MEG injection to a given rate, and add KHI to make up the
Product contamination and LNG difference to the required subcooling. The investigations have
concluded that MEG is better suited than MeOH for this kind
Because of the large distances between the major gas of mixing strategy /1/.
producers and the consumers, gas export pipeline cost has
been a showstopper for a number of planned developments. THIs and dehydration
Over the last few years, the LNG market has opened up,
presenting LNG transport as an enabling technology for In the GoM, some developments use MEG for hydrate control
development of remote gas-condensate fields. As a result of in the gathering system, at the same time dehydrating the gas
this trend, a large number of the ongoing and planned gas enough to meet export pipeline specifications (typically 7
developments are planned with LNG facilities. Gas lb/MMSCF) without a topside contactor.
contaminated with MeOH is unacceptable in the cryogenic
Cold Box part of a LNG plant. MeOH has a freezing point THI selection - conclusion
that is well above the temperature in the LNG plant. For this
reason MeOH is generally avoided for LNG based In view of the factors listed above, it is obvious that a general
developments. Should MeOH be chosen, this would require an ranking of the two inhibitors, based on a direct CAPEX
additional pre-treatment system removing the MeOH from the comparison between a standard MEG regeneration unit and a
gas (IFPEXOL or similar). corresponding standard MeOH regeneration unit, is inadequate
for selection in a specific project. Not only does the loss of
THIs and corrosion management MeOH to the gas phase add substantial OPEX, it may also
impose a price penalty on the product. Furthermore, the
For long distance tie-backs, the pipelines are major cost requirements for salt removal (reclamation) in the MEG case
drivers. Material selection and corrosion management are or gas cleaning in the MeOH case will be project specific cost
important elements in the overall Flow Assurance evaluations. drivers of significant order.
MEG is corrosion protective in itself, and reduces operational
costs with respect to corrosion inhibitors for the pipelines. A
4 OTC 17355

Surveying the choices made by the operators for recently built


and planned gas-condensate tie-backs, it is evident that MEG
seems to be the preferred inhibitor. The list of MEG-based
developments includes record-breaking developments like
Ormen Lange (Norsk Hydro - Norway), Snhvit (Statoil -
Norway), KG-D6 (Reliance Industries India), Scarab-Safron
(Burullus Egypt), South Pars (Total Iran), Shah Deniz (BP
- Azerbaijan), Britannia Satellites (ConocoPhillips UK),
Gorgon (Chevron Texaco Australia) and finally the ultimate
Subsea to Beach concept: Shtokman (Gazprom - Russian
Barents Sea).

MeOH is on the other hand applicable for intermittent


inhibition during shut-down and start-up. Some companies are
starting to replace MeOH with MEG also for these purposes.
On the Kristin Semi, Statoil has decided to go for MEG as the Figure 2 - Schematic illustration of an on-shore Closed Loop MEG
base case chemical hydrate inhibitor for intermittent use. system

In South America, ethanol is commonly used as a hydrate anti- The Aker Kvaerner approach is built on six main
freeze since it is cheap and available in large quantities from steps:
sugar fermentation. Generally ethanol has the same
disadvantages as methanol compared to MEG for continuous 1. Design basis
inhibition. Establishment of the correct design basis figures is extremely
important and must be performed in co-operation with the oil
Part 2 The holistic approach to the closed loop companies. I.e. reservoir and well flowing conditions,
MEG system production profiles over the field lifetime including formation
water production potential, fluid compositions, environmental
Although continuous MEG injection is found as the most conditions etc.
reliable and cost-effective method of hydrate inhibition on The strategy for hydrate (and ice) prevention, Rich and Lean
numerous gas/condensate field developments, the closed loop MEG content will be based on such input.
MEG system is complex and represents a number of chemical,
physical and hence operational challenges. Consequently, it is 2. Subsea architecture and components
extremely important to approach a closed loop MEG system Pending on the chosen subsea production system and pipeline
from a holistic point of view. The consequence of neglecting network, utilisation of, or in some instances development of,
this will in many cases be severe operational problems leading proper technology must be done. Separate MEG line(s) or
to plant downtime and losses of income. MEG lines integrated in the umbilical(s) are options for
carrying MEG to the destination for injection. A multipurpose
Continuous experience from the conventional MEG umbilical, actually an illustration of an Integrated Production
regeneration plant at the Kollsnes onshore facility and the full Umbilical (IPU), from Kvaerner Oilfield Products (KOP) is
reclamation unit on the sgard B semi, combined with shown below /2/. For MEG distribution, an ISU (Integrated
comprehensive investigations performed in the Snhvit and Service Umbilical) with a 3-4 centre line may be sufficient.
Ormen Lange projects, have given the Norwegian E&P
industry a frontrunner position with respect to understanding
of the totality in the closed loop MEG system /5/.
A schematic illustration of a typical on-shore Closed Loop
MEG system with a slip-stream desalination unit is shown in
Figure 2.

Figure 3 - Illustration of an IPU by KOP


OTC 17355 5

The type of injection valves and proper subsea flow 4. Precipitation chemistry
measurement devices (water cut meter/multiphase flow meter) Understanding the chemistry and physics of the carbonates
must also be chosen. and sulphates in combination with the different divalent
cations (Ca2+, Fe2+, Mg2+, Ba2+, Sr2+, etc.) is important to
3. Corrosion design the on-shore/topside MEG plant properly. A picture of
Establishment of a proper corrosion inhibition philosophy carbonate scale before and after cleaning is shown in the
must be based on the input from design basis combined with figure below.
the chosen hydrate inhibition strategy. In most cases the
production pipeline(s) will be made of carbon steel due to
cost. Although the MEG itself represents a reduction of the
corrosion rate, additional means are almost always required to
avoid unacceptable pipeline corrosion rates.

Even though a proper field lifetime corrosion protection


scheme is established large amounts of iron will corrode from
a carbon steel pipeline /3/. Alternatives for corrosion control
are pH-stabilisation, addition of a corrosion inhibitor or partly
pH-stabilisation combined with the addition of a corrosion
inhibitor. The alternatives mentioned above can also be Figure 5 - Picture of carbonate scale before and after cleaning
combined with the addition of a scale inhibitor. By injection of
a pH-stabiliser, the formation of a protective iron carbonate At arrival on-shore/topside, iron and carbonate will be in the
film on the inner pipeline steel surface will be facilitated, form of ions, Fe2+ and CO32-, and it will probably be saturated
reducing the corrosion rate. or maybe supersaturated with respect to FeCO3. Hence, there
is a risk of scaling in different parts of the plant where
The corrosion inhibition method may well alter over the field operating conditions reduce the solubility of various
lifetime for many field developments, at least if production of substances. Scaling of carbonates (calcium carbonate and iron
formation water is initiated. High alkalinity in the lean MEG carbonate) are expected in those locations where the
may result in severe precipitation of calcium carbonate in the temperature is increased and/or there is a reduction in pressure
subsea systems when the formation water rates increase. IFE with subsequent increase in pH due to loss of dissolved carbon
(Institute for Energy Technology) has proven to be world dioxide (CO2).
leading and an important partner in evaluating these issues.
To minimize problems related to iron, from pipeline corrosion,
It has also been learned that minimising the oxygen level and calcium, from the formation water, coming into the on-
within the closed loop MEG system is very important to avoid shore/topside plant, it is important to control the corrosion rate
transformation of iron carbonate to iron oxide(s), avoid an to a low level and control the precipitation of carbonates by
increasing corrosion rate and avoid possible degradation of the designing the MEG process in a way that handles the
MEG. Hence, avoiding oxygen ingress to the system is very formation and deposition of particles. Otherwise precipitation
important. A qualified oxygen scavenger for injection into the and deposition at unwanted locations may occur, resulting in
lean MEG should be considered as a back-up when a vacuum highly increased maintenance/cleaning frequency.
reclaimer system is selected. Based upon input from plants processing gas that has been
treated with MEG, it has been experienced that the surface of
Pictures of pipeline corrosion are shown below. heat exchangers will be especially vulnerable to the formation
of carbonate scales.

The solubility/saturation ratio of iron and calcium carbonate


must be established for each section of the MEG plant to
determine where scaling and depositions may occur. As the
solubility is dependent of the pH and thereby the CO2 content
in the MEG solution it is possible to both determine and
control where the carbonates shall precipitate.

5. MEG Regeneration Options


In general there are three overall options for regenerating
MEG in a closed loop system:

a) Conventional Regeneration - by water removal only


Figure 4 - Pictures of pipeline corrosion (pitting to the right)
All salts and non-volatile chemicals remain and accumulate in
the closed loop MEG system.
6 OTC 17355

b) Full Reclamation - by evaporating the total rich MEG Statoil/Gassco Kollsnes:


feed The Statoil/Gassco operated Troll Gas (Kollsnes) plant has a
Boiling at low pressure (0.1-0.15 bara) followed by distillation conventional regeneration system, which has been in operation
to the required Lean MEG specification. All salts and non- since 1996. At the offshore Troll A platform, formation water
volatile chemicals remain in the boiler. Salts crystallise and is separated and MEG injected, before the well stream is sent
can be removed by e.g. centrifuges/decanters. through the two 68 km 36 multiphase gas/condensate
pipelines to the onshore facility at Kollsnes. Not only is the
c) Slip-stream salt removal Troll A the largest GBS in the world (the largest man-made
Conventional regeneration combined with a slip-stream salt object ever moved), but the Troll development was also the
removal system (vacuum reclaimer or ion exchange). The slip- first development to fully rely on multiphase transport through
stream rate is generally determined by the allowable amount large diameter pipelines. In principle the overall arrangement
of dissolved salts in the lean MEG. is quite similar to a Subsea to Beach (S2B) concept including
water separation (re-injection).
There are several issues that need to be evaluated to determine The Kollsnes plant experienced a considerable amount of salts
the overall regeneration philosophy for a closed loop MEG entering the onshore plant in early operation. The plant also
system. Common early phase field evaluations listed under had problems with scaling in the inlet heaters and also the
Step 1, 3 and 4 above set premises for selection of the MEG column/reboiler. High corrosion rate in early operation was
Regeneration system configuration. Other evaluation criteria resolved by switching the pipeline corrosion protection
are allowable content of dissolved salts in the Lean MEG, scheme from corrosion inhibitor to pH-stabilisation. A
limitations in chemicals consumption and MEG losses and permanent ion exchange unit is installed for slipstream salt
availability requirements. removal. In addition new particle removal units with high-
speed centrifuges have been introduced to take out corrosion
The availability requirements must be seen in conjunction with products and carbonates from the closed loop. The Kollsnes
the MEG chemistry and the operational challenges such as plant had a common MEG system for the pipelines and for gas
corrosion, scaling/precipitation and system accumulations. dehydration. Due to severe depositions in the onshore plant
The selected complexity of the MEG system and thereby the these systems have now been segregated.
investment costs must be compared to operational losses in
terms of reduced availability, increased maintenance, Shell Mensa:
consumption of chemicals and MEG, and also the For the Mensa field in the GoM, MEG was selected for
infrastructure and environmental requirements for the field. A combined hydrate control and dehydration (without topside
general overview of the three overall options for MEG dehydration provisions). Unexpected condensate production
regeneration and special concerns and selection criteria are caused serious topside problems as the condensate formed an
described below. emulsion with the glycol. At the same time, dissolved solids
were detected in the well stream. Even though formation water
a) Conventional Regeneration production was not expected, completion fluids and formation
In conventional regeneration systems water is boiled off at water were suggested to be the source of the salts. As a result,
close to atmospheric pressure. The boiling temperature is the MEG regeneration facility experienced serious operational
dependent of the required Lean MEG specification and the problems (scaling, fouling, plugging). These problems even
back-pressure in the venting system. The main components are propagated to the MEG injection system with plugging of the
a reboiler, either a kettle-type or a recycle heater, and a subsea injection lines.
distillation column.
Total South Pars:
A conventional regeneration system removes water only. This South Pars is another major development where MEG has
means that all salts, pipeline corrosion products and been selected for hydrate control in the two 109 km 32
chemicals are accumulated in the closed MEG loop. A system pipelines. MDEA is mixed in the MEG, thus producing a very
like this cannot handle a continuous production of formation high pH for corrosion protection. Even though formation
water from the wells. As this is very difficult to prevent during water production was not expected, excessive scaling has been
the whole field lifetime, these types of plants would normally experienced (column, heat exchangers and inlet piping). The
require offshore facilities for water separation prior to MEG reason is up-concentration of Ca in the closed loop MEG
injection. Even these fields would experience accumulation of system, and the main source of Ca is believed to be
particles due to pipeline corrosion and formation water carry- completion fluids from the well clean-up.
over, which means that the MEG inventory at certain intervals
must be replaced or cleaned.

Below, some experiences and challenges from start-up and


operation of conventional onshore and offshore regeneration
facilities are listed:
OTC 17355 7

b) Full Reclamation in terms of minimizing foaming. An anti-foaming agent


In a full Reclamation system the total rich MEG feed is boiled should be considered/qualified as back-up.
off in a Flash Separator followed by distillation to the required - Accumulation of inhibitors and acetates should be
Lean MEG specification. This configuration is applicable controlled below critical levels
when higher formation water rates is expected from the - If it is expected low formation water rates during start-up
producing wells. The MEG plant will then consist of a pre- or field lifetime, i.e. the concentration of small particles
treatment system where the rich MEG is heated and may be high compared to the large NaCl particles, means
depressurised to remove hydrocarbons in a 3-phase separator, to remove the small particles should be considered.
followed by Storage facilities, before the MEG is sent to the sgard B has also experienced some problems with scaling of
Flash Separator. The Flash Separator operates under vacuum heaters, especially the Flash Separator Recycle Heaters
(0.10-0.15 bara) in order to vaporise the MEG at a temperature (cleaning frequency reported to vary between monthly and 6-
low enough to avoid decomposition of the MEG. Essentially monthly). It is anticipated that boiling of water, from the
all the salts and particles are removed, since the whole rich Centrifuge flushing system, in the heaters have increased the
MEG feed exits the Flash Separator as vapour. Non-volatile scaling. Some level and flow instruments have been replaced
chemicals will also remain in the Flash Separator. Salt due to high content of iron. Fine filters have proven not to be
accumulates in the concentrated liquid phase, crystallises and applicable for removal of small particles in the rich MEG feed.
can be separated in a Decanter Centrifuge. Heat for
evaporation is added through a heater in a recycle stream. The
vapour from the Flash separator is distilled into MEG and
water in the downstream Distillation Column.

A full Reclamation system has shown to be a proven design


for fields with larger quantities of formation water entering the
on-shore/topside plant. Kvaerner Process Systems (KPS),
which is part of the Aker Kvaerner group, has two reference
plants in operation; STOS (Shell Todd, New Zealand) and
sgard B (Statoil, Norway). Another two full Reclamation
systems, designed by KPS, are under construction; Shah Deniz
(BP, Azerbaijan) and Britannia Satellites (ConocoPhillips,
UK).

Below, some experiences and challenges from engineering,


start-up and operation of onshore and offshore full
Reclamation facilities are listed:
Figure 6 Picture of sgard B MEG Reclaimer prior to installation
Statoil sgard B: (KPS)
KPS performed a full scale testing of the sgard B MEG
Reclamation unit at Kvaerner Egersund yard, spring 1999 BP Shah Deniz / ConocoPhillips BritSats:
prior to installation offshore. The tests were performed with Two full Reclamation systems, designed by KPS, are now
anticipated salt compositions and demonstrated the specified under construction, namely Shah Deniz (BP, Azerbaijan) and
salt removal capacity. However, after start-up offshore there Britannia Satellites (ConocoPhillips, UK). The experiences
was insignificant production of formation water. The result of from sgard B have been carefully evaluated and several
this has been that only minor particles from the pH-stabiliser changes to design of these new plants are incorporated. The
and pipeline corrosion has precipitated in the Flash Separator. Flash Separators have been designed to minimise the potential
Sodium carbonate and iron products have shown to be too for foaming, mainly by changing the inlet arrangement. The
small to remove efficiently in the Decanter Centrifuges and facilities for removal of hydrocarbons prior to boiling have
have therefor accumulated in the Flash Separator. With been greatly improved. Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
additional accumulation of corrosion inhibitors, hydrocarbon has performed qualification programs for inhibitors to ensure
carry-under from upstream three-phase separation and flashing compatibility with the reclaimer. Foam inhibitor has been
in the liquid phase of the Flash Separator these are believed to included as a back-up. IFE has also performed corrosion tests
be the reasons for periodically problems with foaming and for material selection in both plants.
carry-over form the Flash Separator. The lessons learned from Both projects have considered the possibility of low
this experience are: formation water production. If the concentration of small
- New gas tight Centrifuges adapted for smaller particles particles is high compared to the large NaCl particles, it is
- Flashing in the liquid phase of the Flash Separator should expected that the Centrifuge will have difficulties in removing
be avoided all, and some accumulation of small particles could be
- Hydrocarbon removal should be improved upstream the expected. These particles will mainly be different carbonates
reclaimer and iron oxide, e.g. Na2CO3, CaCO3, FeCO3, and Fe3O4.
- Corrosion inhibitor and other inhibitors should be Adequate separation equipment/processes for these particles
qualified/selected to ensure compatibility with the boiler (e.g. filters) are large and expensive, operator intensive, and
8 OTC 17355

prone to failure/clogging. Analyses performed by IFE have


shown that if the concentration of small particles can be kept
relatively low compared to the NaCl concentration, most of
the small particles will tend to stick to the large NaCl crystals,
and thereby be taken out in the Centrifuge. This was also
indicated in the tests of the sgard B plant at Egersund prior
to installation. The Shah Deniz plant is therefor provided with
back-up facilities for injection of NaCl into the Flash
Separator. It is also possible to operate the reclaimers as
conventional reboilers by boiling off water only, thus not
remove any salts or chemicals from the MEG. At BritSats
there will be back-up facilities for injection of a flocculating
agent into the Centrifuge slipstream to induce particle
flocculation, thereby creating larger particles and enabling a
simpler particle removal. The final qualification programs for Figure 7 - 3-D model overview of the full stream MEG reclaimers at
these flocculents are ongoing at IFE. Shah Deniz (KPS)
For both projects water analyses have shown an excess of
divalent cations (Ca, Mg, Ba, Sr, Fe) in the formation water.
This means that the concentration of 2+ ions is higher than the
concentration of alkalinity (SO4 and HCO3), hence only a part
of the divalent cations will precipitate as carbonates and
sulphates in the Flash Separator. When the concentration
increases, the density, viscosity and boiling point of the MEG
will increase. This will reduce the capacity of the Reclaimer,
and could also result in increased foaming and carry-over as
described above. A shutdown / cool-down could also cause
some of the accumulated divalent cations to precipitate as
chlorides. If the concentration is high this could cause major
start-up problems, as it will be impossible to recycle and heat
up the content again to dissolve the chlorides. For the above
reasons it is important to keep control of the alkalinity in the
Flash Separator. For both plants alkalinity in the form of
bicarbonate/carbonate can therefor be added in order to
precipitate divalent cations.
For both the Shah Deniz and the BritSats projects the
solubility / saturation ratio of iron- and calcium carbonate has ConocoPhillips: BritSats MEG Regeneration and Desalting
been determined for all sections of the plants. The design has
been carefully selected to avoid scaling and to control Figure 8 - 3-D model overview of the full stream MEG reclaimer at
precipitation of carbonates in the bulk where scale deposits Britannia Satellites (KPS)
and cleaning/maintenance can be minimised. Also based on
solubilities / saturation ratios some heaters and control valves
have been duplicated to avoid stop of production if scaling c) Slip-stream salt removal
should occur. This configuration consists of a conventional regeneration, as
described earlier, combined with a slip-stream salt removal
3-D model overviews of the KPS full stream MEG reclaimers system (reclaimer or ion exchange). The slip-stream rate is
at Shah Deniz and Britannia Satellites are shown in the figures generally determined by the allowable amount of highly
below. soluble salts in the lean MEG. A slip-stream arrangement is
applicable for low/intermediate formation water rates. The
ongoing projects Ormen Lange (Norsk Hydro - Norway) and
Snhvit/Hammerfest (Statoil - Norway) are based on this
configuration. The main advantage of this design is that
inhibitors and pH-stabilisers are re-used, as opposed to a full
stream reclaimer where all salts and non-volatile chemicals are
removed. It should be noted that the full stream reclaimers at
Shah Deniz are designed for also handling a no salt mode
where all chemicals are re-used. Another advantage with a
slip-stream arrangement is that the heat- and cooling
requirements are reduced, as only a smaller portion of the
MEG is vapourised. In addition, dependent of the slip-stream
rate, the investment cost could be lower than for a full stream
OTC 17355 9

Reclaimer. The main disadvantage is that impurities will large amounts of NaAc could be dissolved in the Flash
accumulate in the closed MEG loop. The impurities are mainly Separator (more than 300 g/l). It is important to control the
solid particles and salts. The salts will exist either as ions or in concentrations to avoid increasing the viscosity and the boiling
precipitated form. The solubility of the different salts in the temperature and also to avoid massive precipitation during
MEG/water solution will vary, and therefore require different shut-down and cool-down.
treatment for removal. In addition different salts will
A 3-D model overview of the KPS slip-stream reclaimer at
precipitate in different parts of the system. The MEG/water
Ormen Lange is shown in the illustration below.
phase particles will mainly consist of corrosion particles,
precipitated salts from formation water and completion fluids,
salts from acetic acids and fines. Although it is possible to run
the system with some particles in the regenerated lean MEG,
most of the particles must be removed to avoid problematic
accumulation in process equipment and flowlines.
Scale, in this context, consists of precipitated carbonates and
sulphate salts. These salts are partly soluble and the solubility
will vary with fluid pH and temperature. When the
MEG/water feed is depressurised or heated CO2 will boil off
and thus increasing the pH. To control the precipitation and
minimise scaling on locations giving operational problems or
being labour intensive with respect to cleaning is very
essential for a slip-stream salt removal plant. In the MEG
regeneration process scaling on hot surfaces in heaters and
precipitation on the column internals are the main concerns.
Since the solubility of iron- and calcium carbonate (FeCO3 and
CaCO3) is low, most of the incoming iron and calcium will
precipitate at the operating conditions of a regeneration unit /
reboilers. The Ormen Lange plant will therefore be designed
to provoke precipitation of FeCO3 and CaCO3 upstream the
reboilers. The Flash Drum and the Rich MEG Tank will be Figure 9 - 3-D model overview of the slip-stream reclaimer at
operating at high temperature (app. 80 oC). Combined with Ormen Lange (KPS)
long retention time, due to uncertainties regarding
supersaturation/kinetics, it is anticipated that all the iron and 6. System design
most of the calcium will precipitate in the two tanks. The high System design includes calculation of MEG demand, from day
operating temperature in the Rich MEG Tank will also one and in the future, determination of corrosion and scale
increase the settling velocity of particles due to a lower liquid inhibition philosophy over the field lifetime, and design of
viscosity. In other words; the Ormen Lange Rich MEG Tanks MEG injection points and injection devices. Design of the
will be designed for the purpose of being a buffer tank but also MEG distribution network, pumps, particle removal
a tank for settling of small particles. The particles, present as a alternatives and MEG storage tanks, in many cases being part
Rich MEG slurry in the bottom of the tank, can be removed of the plants regularity philosophy, are also contributors to an
during regular maintenance and sent to special treatment. The overall system. Finally, the selection of a proper MEG
Rich MEG slurry may also be sent to high speed Centrifuges. regeneration process must be done. System design for the
These full flow Centrifuges is placed in the rich MEG stream whole loop also includes sparing philosophy for critical
downstream of the Rich MEG Tank to normally remove more systems and sufficient capacity margins.
of the particles that are not settling in the tank. At Snhvit the For sizing of the MEG tanks and the recovery capacity, input
particles will be removed by micro filtration. from pipeline sizing governing liquid accumulation is
The slip-stream Reclaimer at Ormen Lange is sized to important. In this context, the sizing of slug catchers, and the
maintain a maximum salt content in the lean MEG of 20 g/l. liquid handling capacity from slug catchers to the Rich MEG
The reclaimer shall also ensure a maximum acetate tank are important factors in the total loop logistics /4/.
concentration of below 2.36 g/l in lean MEG to control top of The required redundancy and sparing of components, rich and
line corrosion after a change in corrosion strategy from pH lean MEG storage capacity and the MEG plant capacity
stabiliser to corrosion inhibitor. The design of a slip-stream margins must be based on availability analysis. OREDA data
reclaimer is more or less based on the same evaluations as a has shown to be insufficient for a MEG system, hence the
full stream reclaimer. The main difference between the availability analysis must be based on actual experience from
reclaimers described earlier and the Ormen Lange slip-stream the plants in operation together with input from the oil
reclaimer is that the distillation column is not required as companies.
water is removed in the conventional reboilers. An additional
consideration made at Ormen Lange is the high acetate
concentration in the feed. Organic acids will accumulate in the
Flash Separator. Experiments performed by IFE shows that
10 OTC 17355

Conclusion 5. Jan Gunnar Waalmann et al.: An Efficient


Wellstream Booster Solution for Deep and Ultra
When reviewing the advantages, limitations and cost elements Deep Water Oil fields, OTC paper no 16447,
(CAPEX/OPEX) by use of glycol (MEG) vs. alcohols Offshore Technology Conference, Houston 2004.
(methanol/ethanol), it seems evident that MEG is the preferred 6. Stig Brustad, Karl-Petter Lken and Jan Gunnar
inhibitor. This is supported by the choices made by the Waalmann: MEG Enhances Flow Assurance in
operators for recently built and planned long distance gas- Subsea to Beach Developments, World Oil
condensate tie-backs. The list of MEG-based developments Supplement January 2004, Norwegian innovation
includes record-breaking developments like Ormen Lange 7. M. A. Kelland: Chemicals for Gas Hydrate
(Norsk Hydro - Norway), Snhvit (Statoil - Norway), KG-D6 Control, Conference: Hydrater - oljeindustriens
(Reliance Industries - India), Scarab-Safron (Burullus usynlige problembarn? NTNU, Trondheim 2000
Egypt), South Pars (Total Iran), Shah Deniz (BP - 8. E. D. Sloan Jr: "Hydrate Engineering", Society of
Azerbaijan), Britannia Satellites (ConocoPhillips UK), Petroleum Engineers Inc, 2000.
Gorgon (Chevron Texaco Australia) and Shtokman
(Gazprom - Russian Barents Sea).

A closed loop MEG system is complex and represents a


number of chemical, physical and hence operational
challenges. Consequently, it is extremely important to
approach a closed loop MEG system from a holistic point of
view. The consequence of neglecting this will in many cases
be severe operational problems leading to plant downtime and
losses of income.

Continuous experience from the conventional MEG


regeneration plant at the Kollsnes onshore facility and the full
reclamation unit on the sgard B semi, combined with
comprehensive investigations performed in the Snhvit,
Ormen Lange, Shah Deniz and Britannia Satellites projects,
have greatly improved the understanding of the chemistry and
the totality in a closed loop MEG system.

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Institute for Energy Technology


(IFE), Norsk Hydro, Statoil, BP and ConocoPhillips for their
support and cooperation during the ongoing Aker Kvrner /
Kvrner Process System MEG projects.

References

1. F. Fournie, A. Cripps and D. Atkin: The Nuggets


Development Successful Operation and Plans for
the Future, GPA Europe, Paris Conference 2003
2. O. Heggdal et al.: Integrated Production Umbilical
for the Sognefjord (20 km tieback). Qualification and
Testing., Deep Offshore Technology Conference,
New Orleans 2004.
3. A. Dugstad and Marion Seiersten: pH-stabilisation, a
Reliable Method for Corrosion Control of Wet Gas
Pipelines, 1st International Symposium on Oilfield
Corrosion, Aberdeen May 2004, SPE 87560
4. Karl-Petter Lken, Jan Gunnar Waalmann et al.:
Deepwater Subsea to Beach Gas Developments
Flow Assurance Challenges and Solutions, Deep
Offshore Technology Conference, New Orleans
2004.