Hydrate Inhibitors are used to prevent or reduce gas hydrate formation. Gas Hydrates are formed in offshore production systems under low temperature and high pressure conditions. The hydrates block the pipelines, drill strings, BOP’s, by forming plugs and cause flow assurance issues. Hydrate inhibitors are used where mechanical methods such as insulated flow line and active heating are not feasible options.
Subsea equipment such as pipelines, risers, Christmas trees, jumpers and manifolds are exposed to low temperatures at the seabed. For example, North Sea seabed temperatures are 32-40OF which are ideal for hydrate formation. Remediation measures such as pigging, depressurization of pipelines, jetting, solvent addition, heating are expensive and leads to increase in non-productive time. Hence, technical and economic advantages over other inhibition methods have resulted in a booming hydrate inhibitor market.
Hydrate Inhibitors Market Taxonomy
On basis of Inhibitor Type
Thermodynamic inhibitors on addition shift the thermodynamic equilibrium and disrupting hydrate formation. Methanol and MEG are most commonly used. MEG can be regenerated and is more cost effective. Methanol though cheaper on volume basis cannot be regenerated and is not environment friendly as well.
Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors are used when large concentrations of thermodynamic inhibitors are required, making their use uneconomical. They do not disturb thermodynamic equilibrium, instead affect the hydrate growth. Anti-Agglomeration Agents prevent the agglomeration of hydrate crystals by disrupting hydrate growth process and transportable slurry is formed. These inhibitors are typically used below a 50% water cut level. Kinetic Inhibitors prevent nucleation, so the produced fluid is transported further to downstream before hydrate formation.
Hydrate Inhibitors Market Outlook
The environmental concerns regarding methanol, which is a toxic chemical, have led to development of newer hydrate inhibition methods such as Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors and use of MEG instead of Methanol. This switch has had environmental, technical and economic perks. Major players in the hydrate inhibitor market are Ashland, Halliburton, NALCO (ECOLAB COMPANY), Woodview Technology, BASF, NEFTECHIM Technologies, JSC Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat, Clariant Chemicals, GasHydrate LLC, Evonik, Ecolab, ClariantOilServices, Yara International, Stella Mar, LEWA
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