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An Underground, In-Line Heater for Gas Gathering Pipeline Systems

[+] Author Affiliations
David Storrow

CIMARRON Engineering Ltd., Calgary, AB, Canada

Paper No. IPC2004-0261, pp. 841-848; 8 pages
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference, Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 4–8, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4176-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-3737-8
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


As central processing of multi-phase well effluent is becoming more common than field processing, sour gas gathering systems must be maintained at temperatures that do not allow the formation of hydrates. For short systems, heating the gas at the well site (to maintain a temperature that will prevent hydrate formation) or adding methanol to the fluid (to suppress the hydrate temperature) may be acceptable. For large gathering systems, a method of reheating the gas in transit is necessary. The conventional method for reheating sour gas gathering systems is to bring the multi-phase effluent above ground and send it through a heat exchanger. This method requires significant piping, valves, fittings, etc., and results in increased friction pressure losses and brings with it the difficulty of opening the mainline valve (either manually or remotely) when the pipeline requires pigging — all of which will increase capital and operating costs. Reheating above ground also requires toxic/corrosive fluids to be brought to the surface, in closer proximity to operations personnel, causing additional safety and environmental concerns. An underground in-line heating system has been developed to reduce the economic and operational impact of reheating the multi-phase hydrocarbons. The inline heating system eliminates the need to divert the multi-phase effluent from the pipeline by using a single-pass heat exchanger that operates below ground as part of the pipeline. Recirculated glycol is used as the heating medium for this system. The compact, below-ground facility requires only valving on the glycol circuit piping and will keep sour process fluids isolated and away from enclosed buildings where operating staff are present and out of more complex piping with greater potential to leak. As the underground heater is part of the pipeline, pigging operations can continue unhindered. Seven underground in-line heaters have been designed and installed by CIMARRON Engineering Ltd. since 1995. The installed heating systems have been proven to be reliable and easy to use. The underground inline heaters have been found to cost significantly less than the conventional above ground heating system. Other potential uses for the buried heater are: heating of viscous fluids, such as heavy oil (to eliminate need for diluent) and using the heat exchanger for cooling of gas following compression.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME



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