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It’s long been recognised that the build-up of waxy deposits within oil flow lines and risers has been giving the oil industry a major headache resulting in the reduction of oil production and in some cases a ceasing of production all together. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these issues cost the oil industry tens of millions of dollars each year.
SUEZ have recently carried out tests to understand if Ice Pigging could offer a solution to these issues.To replicate the build-up of what is found within oil pipelines, around 100kg of paraffin wax was mixed with a black dye in order that the wax could clearly be seen against the ice. Once this had been mixed the wax was smeared around the inside of a 24″ diameter pipeline, part of a specially designed 30m long test rig which had been constructed to enable the tests so they were true to life as possible.
Once the section of pipe had been completely smeared with the wax, the rig was then reassembled ready for the tests. Firstly, enough water was pumped into the rig to completely fill the pipeline. Next, around 5 tonnes of ice was injected into the pipe, this was enough to form a semi-solid ‘ice pig’. Ice required for removing such a viscous contaminant as this needs to be considerably thicker than ice used in other applications of Ice Pigging.
Water was then injected with enough pressure to force the ‘ice pig’ along the pipe. As the ice travelled through the pipe it scraped away the very sticky wax.
Once all of the ice had been pushed through the pipe, the rig was then disassembled to see how much wax had been removed. This showed that virtually all of the wax had been removed from the pipeline save for a very thin film. Below you can see an image of the pipe post Ice Pigging along with all the wax that had been scraped away by the ‘ice pig’ during the test.
Ultimately, the results proved conclusively that Ice Pigging could very well be a breakthrough pipe cleaning technique for the oil industry.
Get in touch with us if you’d like to know more about this or any other application for Ice Pigging.