When flow assurance fails: Melting hydrate plugs in dry-tree wells ///
In deepwater oil wells, thermodynamic conditions are favorable for the formation of gas hydrates, which tend to agglomerate and plug wells, reducing flow and sometimes causing damage to infrastructure. Because hydrates are very difficult and expensive to remediate, offshore operators spend significant resources to avoid operating conditions that might allow hydrate formation, including the injection of chemical inhibitors into the wellbore. However, these flow assurance methods are not always successful, leaving operators the difficult task of dissociating the hydrate plugs to restore production.
To determine the temperature and pressure conditions under which hydrates can form, the best approach is to conduct experimental measurements on the appropriate hydrocarbon/water mixture. However, this is not always practical, so it is more common to use thermodynamic models to predict hydrate behavior by calculating the hydrate equilibrium curve, also known as the hydrate dissociation curve.
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