Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Find the plug

17.09.2008
A pressure pulse through a pipeline can locate plugs, saving oil companies lots of money.

More and more oil extraction takes place on the ocean floor –not the easiest place to reach when it comes to maintaining and repairing pipelines that don’t function the way they should. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have developed and patented a new technique called the pressure pulse method for finding plugs in oil pipelines on the ocean floor.

Robots in pipes

Wax deposits are currently the largest unsolved problem in underwater oil production. Oil that is sent from a platform was cooled when it passed through pipelines on the ocean’s bottom; as a result, deposits build up along the pipe’s interior.

Currently, when the flow through the pipe is restricted, the pipeline is shut down, and a robot is sent into the pipe to crawl its way through. Now and then these robots get stuck because they encounter obstructions that are simply too large for them. The operator then has to close off the pipeline and reverse the pressure, so as to get the robot unstuck. Sometimes the robot has to travel a long stretch of pipeline before it finds something to get started on. Both situations can take quite a long time.

Time is money in the oil industry, and lost production time can quickly become a costly affair. If a platform is closed for a longer period of several months because the pipelines are shut down, the costs can top NOK 10-100 million.

Water hammer

Professor Jon Steinar Gudmundsson, who developed the pressure pulse method, explains that he came up with the idea after he observed the shut-down of a geothermal well in Iceland.

”When a well like this is closed with the help of a pressure valve, a pressure wave is created. I realised that this pulse could be used for something constructive,” Gudmundsson explains.

The method is based on a seismic principle and is similar to an echo-sounder: A pressure pulse is sent out and the return signal is measured. “The principle is the same as what we call a ’water hammer’. That’s the bang you hear in a washing machine or a dishwasher when the flow of water to the machine is shut off quickly,” he says.

Mapping with sound

The reflected sound waves from the sound pulses can be measured using complex analytical methods. The measurements can then be used to create a map of the inside of the pipeline, right up to the next pressure vent. Such a map can show where the pipe narrows, and where the deposits are so thick that they plug the pipe. The information helps operators choose the best possible method for clearing the pipe.

Professor Gudmundsson’s idea uses existing installations to measure pressures. The pressure valve is already in place. The only thing that needs to be done is to close the valve quite quickly, which creates the pressure wave.

Markland Technology AS has been spun off of NTNU to sell the method to large oil companies, and has met with considerable success, says Gudmundsson. The business has been developed and licensed by Harald K. Celius.

Jon Steinar Gudmundsson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ntnu.no

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht CeGlaFlex project: wafer-thin, unbreakable and flexible ceramic and glass
25.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Additive manufacturing, from macro to nano
11.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>