Abstract

The transport of CO2 through offshore pipelines is one of the last business that the Operators are beginning to face, in line with the coming needs for climate change mitigations.

The scenario for CO2 Capture, Transport and Storage anticipates capture and treatment at local plants, the transportation by ships in a liquid phase at low temperatures (close to −30 °C) to a terminal for the following offshore submarine transportation in a pipeline up to an injection well, for the final (and permanent) storage underground.

In order to optimize the operating costs for CO2 transport via pipeline, and to reduce energy consumptions, no heating is applied from ship to pipeline inlet. In such case, the pipeline will reach approximately a temperature of −30 °C in the initial landfall section.

The design of the offshore pipeline subject to this operating conditions, very cold fluid inside and a sea water temperature slightly over 0°C outside (North Sea), must face the possibility of ice formation around the pipe.

For the Northern Lights project, this possibility has been analyzed and the HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling) at landfall resulted the only section where the ice formation could jeopardize the pipeline integrity. Detailed assessment for both normal operating conditions and contingency cases has been performed.

In the former case, a steady state thermal analysis with analytical method (thermal resistances) has been applied to calculate both the longitudinal, along the pipeline axis, and radial temperature profile: all the water inside the HDD freezes. Therefore, a water circulation system has been studied to prevent the ice formation. The pumping system required to ensure enough water flow has been dimensioned considering pressure losses inside the HDD. Power consumption in the order of 3 kW is expected.

The breakdown of the pumps has been analyzed in order to determine the available time before the sea water freeze inside the HDD obstructing any circulation. A transient analysis has been carried out simulating the temperature after water circulation arrest. Both analytical and Finite Element Model have been used to calculate the transient process causing water freezing.

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