Offshore production facilities utilize a variety of process heating equipment to help start-up production and operate efficiently. Applications include glycol reboiling, oil and gas conditioning, knock-out drum heating, molecular sieve regeneration, sea or potable water, and fuel/lube oil maintenance. In addition, oil producers have long investigated downhole and subsea heating solutions capable of decreasing viscosity, preventing wax and hydrate buildup, and providing localized heating for improved productivity. The types of heating solutions are problematic due to the large capacity and extreme environmental and process conditions involved, especially with the downhole and subsea applications. Until recently, low voltage (below 1000V) heating elements and low power heating cables have been the typical solutions for downhole and subsea electric heating applications. These traditional solutions have limitations that prevent them from significant adoption and utilization.
This paper discusses the benefits of using medium voltage technology for flow assurance and hydrate prevention applications. The focus will be on the reduction of installation, maintenance, and operational costs, as well as the reduction of electrical power consumption and line loss associated with using medium voltage technology for such applications. For large heating loads, the physical size and footprint of medium voltage electric heating systems are more compact than traditional low voltage systems. This is especially relevant on newly designed platforms offering medium voltage power distribution.
Finally, medium voltage electric heating technology opens the door for completely new solutions in downhole, subsea and offshore heating, as well as other process heating, in the oil and gas industry that were not possible before. It is important to present such innovation to the marketplace so that producers and operators are aware of new solutions to existing problems.