Protecting Your Pipeline During the Winter Months (Q&A with Industry Expert)

What happens if you do not develop and implement a preventive plan to protect your lines and equipment during the winter?
The likely result will be increased freezing, plugging and/or hydrate formation. These items will lead to unscheduled downtime or excessive personnel overtime.

When is the best time to inspect your pipeline, facilities and equipment, and develop your winter protection plan?
Early fall, or 30 days before normal estimated freeze. Production equipment, pipelines and inlet receiving inspections and repairs need to be conducted before winter weather prohibits operators from performing cold weather repairs. Below are some items that should be included in your pre-winter inspections:

  • Ask your U.S. Water representative to assist with your pre-winter inspections.
  • Drain, inspect and clean all scrubbers, vessels, valves and batch treat with chemical.
  • Add antifreeze products as and where needed.
  • Utilize customized programs to clean and PIG pipelines.
  • Check receiver drain lines, valves and insulation.
  • Check, test, fill and prepare to start Low Dose Hydrate Inhibitor (LDHI) or methanol injection systems.
  • Check and replace particle and coalesce filters; if in service over 6 months.
  • Test DP, pressure gauges, and remove gauges to verify communications to housings.
  • Check filter housing drains.
  • Check and test compressors, oil heaters and batteries.
  • Drain, purge and clean instrumentation lines. If required, add dryers or freeze protection fluids (glycol or methanol).
  • Check and test heat trace, heaters and other electrical freeze prevention equipment.
  • Check and test infrequently operated pumps and equipment.
  • Clean slumps and other fluid drains. If permitted, add antifreeze products to reduce mid-winter freeze-up.
  • Check insulation, valves and instrumentation for damaged during the past year. Repair and re-insulate where needed.
  • Remove rat, mice, wasp and varmints nests. If permitted, put out various deterrents.
  • Perform burner maintenance by removing and inspecting burners, cleaning pilots, checking controls and igniting.
  • Remove or insulate exposed water collection equipment such as water drops, drips and low lying vessels.
  • Check compressor scrubbers, drips, drains and vessels, which could accumulate water and freeze.
  • If you’ve experienced elevated oxygen levels after starting your hydrate inhibition program, use inhibited methanol to prevent contaminating your system with oxygen and inducing further corrosion. Contact your U.S. Water representative to inhibit methanol tanks already in use and future applications.

What is the best approach to protect my pipeline and facilities during the winter?

  • Utilize U.S. Water's Low Dose Hydrate Inhibitor (LDHI) products, Entegrate HI 4300 and Entegrate HI 4350 to prevent production loss as a result of ice agglomeration. These chemistries also reduce corrosion deposits in pipe and pump components.
  • U.S. Water's Winter Blend (WB) iron control series of proprietary formulas have been formulated for use in cold climates, and will not freeze in the drum below -30°F. They are multifunctional inhibitors designed to prevent iron deposits, corrosion, black water, downhole flow assurance, pipelines, flowlines and Salt Water Disposal (SWD) applications.
  • Due to oil price cutbacks, paraffin prevention programs may have been optimized or turned-off throughout the summer. Before the first cold spell, it is best to do product selection for a paraffin remediation or prevention program before a paraffin plugging issue causes downtime and lost revenue this winter.
  • Colder weather conditions may create increased emulsion due to paraffin and tank bottom basic sediment and water (BS&W) issues. Contact your U.S. Water representative to lower the heat requirement for breaking out emulsions and treating tank bottoms.

We recognize that each system is unique and may require additional actions items. Contact your U.S. Water representative with questions.

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