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In-Situ Pipeline Coatings for Methane Emissions Mitigation and Quantification from Natural Gas Pipelines
Project Number
DE-FE0029069
Last Reviewed Dated
Goal

The objective of the proposed research is to demonstrate the protection capabilities and economic benefits of Oceanit’s internal pipeline surface treatment, known as DragX™. DragX™ is a chemically resistant, water-and-oil repellent nanocomposite system that can be readily applied in-situ on natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines making it an ideal candidate for in-place retrofitting and refurbishment of existing pipelines without the need for expensive extraction and replacement. DragX™ is also able to significantly reduce the surface roughness of the pipeline interior, subsequently reducing pressure drop, improving throughput, decreasing energy costs of pumping, and allowing for longer pipeline operation without interruption, reducing the methane emitted during pipe isolation and venting.

Performer(s)

Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Background

Addressing the current health of the nation’s existing 3 million miles of pipeline infrastructure is key to preventing further climate change. In 2020, natural gas production exceeded 34 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Roughly 75% of natural gas consists of methane (CH4), which is up to 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping heat within the atmosphere over a 100-year period, and studies from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) estimate approximately 2% of all the natural gas produced will be lost during normal operations due to unaddressed leaks. This does not even consider the risks of major disaster due to pipeline failure, or the losses and extra fuel costs incurred due to corrosion and scale deposits in under-maintained pipelines.

While methods currently exist to monitor the health of a pipeline system, pinpoint inspection tools to identify and locate specific areas in need of repair are not commercially available. Replacement of entire pipelines is generally economically non-viable due to the cost and required downtime. As the pipeline network continues to age, the cost of maintenance and monitoring of all these systems will continue to increase while becoming exponentially more difficult to address. Thus, there is an imminent need for a new approach that provides economically efficient retrofitting of existing pipelines in-place.

Impact

The United States has over 1.2 million miles of natural gas transport pipelines laid, more than any other country in the world, with most of these lines buried underground. This makes replacement or refurbishment of damaged pipelines cost-prohibitive and substantially limits the capability for widespread effective detection of pipeline health, deposit formation, and overall performance. The proposed research allows for a novel, cost-effective method of finding, repairing, and mitigating damage in pipeline interiors while being minimally disruptive to normal pipeline operation. The treatment can significantly improve the economics of energy transport by providing flow assurance, limiting catastrophic blowouts, and minimizing product loss from small but sustained leaks.

Beyond the already field demonstrated applications, this innovative nanocomposite surface treatment has the potential to be the backbone for CO2 and Hydrogen transporting pipeline infrastructure. The learnings from this project could accelerate the deployment of surface treatment technologies related to the energy transition infrastructure, thus benefitting the clean energy initiatives in the United States and all around the world.

Key Benefits of DragX™

Public Benefits Capital Expense Savings Operational Expense Savings

Reduction in CO2 and methane emissions due to maintenance-related pipeline opening/venting.

Enhanced pipeline lifetime, allowing avoidance of replacement and trenching activities. 10-15% improved throughput for pipelines due to reduced internal surface roughness.
Reduction in risk for CO2 and methane emissions due to slow leaks caused by internal pipeline corrosion and pinhole leak formation. Improved compressor pump lifetime due to increased efficiency. Improved operational efficiency allows for reduced schedule of cleaning (fewer pigging runs, reduced usage of chemicals, less downtime).
Reduction in fuel and chemical usage in transport and cleaning activities. Protection of pipeline after treatment allows for smaller corrosion allowance during the installation of new line (wall thickness, pipe material, continuous chemical treatment) Enhanced flow properties can allow for reduced reliance on chemical flow assurance treatments (e.g. DRAs).
Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • DragX™ was successfully applied as part of an independently funded commercial evaluation trial by a major pipeline operator in North America on a 20-inch test line. Internal pipeline roughness was lower than the intended target of 200 µinch specified by the commercial client.
  • Oceanit developed facilities and processes to fabricate DragX™ material at the drum level (55 gallons) to allow for commercial deployment.
  • Oceanit presented its findings at the NETL-hosted 2021 Carbon Management and Oil and Gas Research Virtual Project Review Meeting.
  • Testing of DragX™ protection against MIC growth demonstrated a 97% reduction in weight loss as compared to untreated surfaces in the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB). DragX™ also reduced the concentration of adhered bacteria to the substrate by over 90%.
  • Oceanit presented its findings at the NETL-hosted 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting.
  • In collaboration with a major oil and gas exploration and production company, Oceanit deployed DragX™ to protect produced water pipelines from aggressive microbially induced corrosion (MIC). The resultant trial demonstrated that a line with a history of aggressive MIC was completely protected by DragX™ application over the course of six months of active use.
  • Oceanit deployed DragX™ as part of a commercial field trial to reduce erosion and corrosion on a gas pipeline. Results from this trial confirmed that pressure drop within the line could be reduced by up to 15% while showing compatibility with strong acid solutions up to 5N.
  • Oceanit demonstrated the economic value of DragX™ for an international energy company by applying its numerical model to a candidate 100+ km pipeline.
  • Oceanit provided material for a third-party applicator to apply on a trial basis to reduce pitting corrosion and drag because of cavitation forces and turbulent flow around a restrictive valve.
  • Oceanit presented its current findings at the NETL-hosted 2019 Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage and Oil and Gas Technologies Integrated Review Meeting in August 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Oceanit hosted a second private technology showcase at the Offshore Technology Conference 2019 in Houston, TX to a selected group of interested commercial field trial partners.
  • DragX™ was shown to provide a 20% reduction in measured and calculated surface roughness in comparison to in-use, corroded pipeline steel in a 540’ flow loop in Houston.
  • A manuscript and conference presentation were given at 2018 ADIPEC, held November 2018 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
  • A poster presentation highlighting the deployment of DragX™ on a wastewater line was presented at the 2018 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference held in October 2018 in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.
  • DragX™ was shown to provide a 33% improvement over mechanical pigging alone in a field trial during field experiments held on a heavily corroded and tuburcule filled pipeline section in Honolulu.
  • A presentation highlighting the benefits of DragX™ on water treatment was presented at the Asia Water Forum 2018.
  • A commercial field application on a geometrically complex wastewater pipeline was successfully completed as a proof-of-concept validation for DragX™ optimized application conditions and quality control metrics.
  • Successful transition from Phase II/Budget Period II to Phase III/Budget Period III as of August 1, 2018.
  • Developed a numerical model based on Darcy-Weisbach equation for both pressurized liquefied natural gas and gaseous product to predict throughput improvements based on reduced internal surface roughness.
  • DragX™ was presented at OTC 2018 in Houston, TX. This conference paper and corresponding talk presented the idea of an omniphobic coating as a potential way to promote flow assurance.
  • Oceanit presented the subscale testing results at the 2018 NACE Corrosion Conference in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Successful transition from Phase I/Budget Period I to Phase II/Budget Period II as of August 15, 2017.
  • Oceanit highlighted the work at a private technology showcase at the Offshore Technology Conference 2017 in Houston, TX, with over 100 oil and gas industry leaders attending.
  • Successfully coated the interior of 180’, 6” test pipeline at facility established in Houston, TX, using the in-situ pigging technique.
Current Status

Based on the successful planning and execution of field trials with commercial partners during this project to validate DragX™ in several different pipeline applications, Oceanit is now looking to transition the technology to a full commercial product for pipelines with respect to natural gas products, crude oil products, wastewater, and produced water. Oceanit’s preliminary economic value model that can predict the relative improvement in reduced pressure drop, increased throughput, and reduction in pipeline diameter (for newly installed or replacement lines) was developed and validated with one of these economic partners. A general guideline of 15–25% reduction in frictional drag has generally been demonstrated for DragX™ pilot deployments under this research effort and has been confirmed through actual field trials. Additionally, no compatibility issues with any pipeline product have been reported thus far.

The unique combination of flexible application and highly chemically resistant material also allows the technology to be a part of a future energy transition away from traditional resources. DragX™ could be a part of a composite treatment solution to retrofitting existing pipeline infrastructure for future blended natural gas or pure hydrogen transport. Its demonstrated compatibility in sour gas conditions also makes it an intriguing option to protect existing CO2 storage from corrosion and leaks. DragX™ appears to be a solution for existing and future problems.

Through this research effort, DragX™ was able to be field tested, de-risked, and approved by several major industry partners both in Oil and Gas and other industries. Widespread use of DragX™ could be a gamechanger for industry in terms of Improving the resiliency and longevity of natural gas pipeline infrastructure helps to improve operational efficiency, drastically reduce methane emissions.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

$1,950,000

Performer Contribution

$487,500

Total: $2,437,500

Contact Information

NETL – William Fincham (william.fincham@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4268)
Oceanit – Vinod Veedu (vveedu@oceanit.com or 713-357-9622)

Additional Information