Subsea jumpers are tie-in systems with a characteristic M-shaped geometry, employed to connect subsea facilities such as wellhead trees to manifolds. During well restart after a prolonged shut-down, subsea jumpers are exposed to a significant driving force for hydrate formation. Employing the recently-constructed HyJump flowloop, designed to mimic subsea jumpers operating at hydrate forming conditions, an experimental campaign was conducted to assess the influence of pipeline temperature, gas flow rate, liquid inventory, and inhibitor content on hydrate deposition during simulated shut-down and restart operations. In this work, we acquired baseline data on the gas sweep efficiency in HyJump for a wide range of gas restart velocities to characterize hydrodynamic behaviour in the absence of hydrates. Preliminary experiments were also conducted to evaluate the jumper operability in hydrate forming conditions.
The HyJump flowloop consists of a test section connected to independent gas and liquid injection equipment at the inlet and gas separation facilities at the outlet which allows a continuous recirculation of gas and a once-through pass of the liquid. The test section has a complex geometry, with three identical low points and two high points with horizontal length of 12′ 10˝ and 7′ 7˝, respectively, and total height is 13′ 2˝. The test section is equipped with 12 pressure and temperature sensors regularly distributed, a MEG sensor in the second low point, a throttling valve downstream of the first high point to mimic the wellhead choke, and a viewing window at the outlet. In gas sweep experiments, each of the three low points was loaded with 1.6 gallons of water and natural gas at 1200 psi. During these tests, the pipeline temperature was maintained above 60 °F where hydrates are not expected to form. The system was maintained for six hours at a pipeline temperature of 41 °F (17 °F sub-cooling) for hydrate formation tests. Gas sweep velocities were varied in a range between 0.06 and 3 ft/s.
The results illustrate that a superficial gas velocity of 3 ft/s was required to fully remove liquids from the jumper. However, gas velocities below 0.16 ft/s did not result in any substantive changes to the liquid inventory. Thus, low flow restart conditions could offer a significant driving force for hydrate formation in the jumper at low temperature. The preliminary gas restart tests conducted in hydrate forming conditions provided clear evidence of hydrate deposition at gas velocities below 0.16 ft/s.
Hydrate formation in subsea jumper spools is poorly understood and a rare topic of discussion within scientific literature. This unique "HyJump" facility offers new insight to assist operators mitigate the risk of hydrate blockage by manipulating gas restart rates after well shut-down in the absence of (or with severely limited) chemical inhibition.