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 Innovative process for environmentally friendly manure treatment comes onto the market
03.05.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

nachricht No compromises: Combining the benefits of 3D printing and casting
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>