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Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® for the Mitigation of Paraffin Problems in Flow Lines

Posted by Baker Hughes on Mar 25, 2021 10:37:59 AM

Paraffin is a naturally occurring wax that can build up in flow lines and cause costly production problems to the tune of billions of dollars industry-wide each year. Costs are incurred not only because of the reduction or loss of crude production but because of expensive chemical and mechanical treatments, extra horsepower requirements, and additional manpower.

Baker Hughes would like you to be aware of our paraffin-mitigating piping solutions. We offer proprietary nylon-based Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® flow lines, a reinforced thermoplastic pipe (RTP), which is a flexible, durable, and easy-to-install pipe solution with the strength of steel and strong paraffin-retarding characteristics.

Paraffin Problems in Oil Extraction

Paraffin wax molecules are long-chain alkanes that have low melting points (104 to 158 degrees F). If crude contains significant amounts of dissolved paraffin, it will tend to deposit within flow lines at the wax appearance temperature (WAT) as cooler temperatures and lower pressures are reached en route towards the surface from the reservoir, or in surface piping from the wellhead to storage facilities.

Wax deposition is one of the most challenging aspects of flow assurance. Numerous costly techniques have been used to mitigate the problem, including chemical dissolution, microbial introduction, magnetic techniques, pigging, and melting using hot water or steam. Pigging is commonly utilized but can be fraught with difficulties, including the unknown hardness of the wax buildup within the flow line and the numerous pig runs that may need to be made.

Built for hydrocarbon and paraffin resistance, PE Flex Plus is ideal for low-pressure fluid transport below 300 psi while still servicing highly corrosive environments. The fully piggable PE Flex Plus pipe can safely transport oil (including hot oil), gas, saltwater, brine CO2, H2S and condensate.


Nylon: The Key Differentiator

The key differentiator in the Baker Hughes solution to the paraffin problem is the use of proprietary nylon construction in the design of Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® flow lines. Steel pipe is highly prone to constriction from paraffin deposition. Our Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® product is highly resistant to waxy buildups from crude oil. This alone will increase the efficiency and economics of your projects if paraffin is at all a problem where you produce.

When Temperature Matters

The maximum operating temperature of the PE Flex Plus pipe is 140F. Working with higher temperatures? The PE Flex Plus RT pipe transports fluids up to 180F. PE Flex Plus RT features all the benefits of our PE Flex Plus pipe, plus a nylon liner with a PE-RT base to withstand higher temperatures.

Laboratory Analysis Confirms Paraffin Mitigation

As part of the design process, independent laboratory analysis was run to determine the paraffin-mitigating characteristics of Baker Hughes Composite Pipes®. The test procedure used 4 lbs. of paraffin heated in 5 gallons of vegetable oil to 180 degrees F. The mixture was run from a holding tank through the Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® piping. As the temperature cooled to 70 degrees F, the piping was examined for wax buildup. The results indicated that no paraffin buildup was present within the pipe. The analysis enabled this conclusion: Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® showed no affinity to collect or retain any paraffin under the controlled conditions of the experiment.


Case Study: Bonanza Creek

A midstream energy operator in the Rocky Mountains area was plagued by paraffin build-up in flow lines carrying crude from wellheads to temporary storage facilities. Operations had to be shut down for pigging on a regular basis, contributing to delayed production and cost increases.

The operator spoke with Baker Hughes about their issues. They selected 6-inch Thermoflex® RTP pipeline to address their paraffin problem. Within three weeks of order placement, the new pipe arrived and was quickly and safely installed within three days. The result: Greatly reduced presence of paraffin buildup in the Thermoflex® flow lines. In addition, pigging usage and associated costs have been dramatically reduced.

The main learning from this case study is that the paraffin mitigation using Baker Hughes Composite Pipes makes good operational and economic sense. The product works effectively against wax buildup, is cost-effective, and easy to deploy and install.

Would You Ever Want to Use Steel for Waxy Oil Production?

As shown in this case study, Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® pipeline can provide an excellent solution for mitigating paraffin buildup within flow lines. Would steel be better in some paraffin-prone situations? It’s unlikely. Steel piping is unable to resist the buildup of paraffin internally.


Spectrum of Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® Products

Baker Hughes produces a full suite of flexible Baker Hughes Composite Pipes® products that can be applied to most oil and gas production environments. These flow lines are spoolable, flexible, easy to install and maintain, and perhaps above all, safe and cost-effective. They are available in a 4, 6 and 8 inches in diameter. Included among them are:

  • Baker Hughes Composite Pipes – Nylon Liner
  • Baker Hughes Composite Pipes – PPS Liner for chemically aggressive environments
  • Baker Hughes Composite Pipes – HDPE Liner specially designed for ecologically sensitive situations

Baker Hughes: A Global Leader

Baker Hughes is the leader in the oil-and-gas service industry, providing unique manufacturing capabilities, delivered with a safety-first priority. Their world-class organization is delighted to provide this particular solution for the mitigation of wax buildup in flow lines. In addition, Baker Hughes can help in the solving of numerous other operational issues faced by today’s production operators.

Are you intrigued by this overview of Baker Hughes Composite Pipes®’s paraffin-mitigating characteristics? Are you currently facing paraffin issues in your operations? Whether you are looking to design a new-build system or wish to rehabilitate an older paraffin-clogged system, Baker Hughes can help. Download a product guide and additional information here.

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