Preventing hydrate formation is critical to safely and economically manage subsea tiebacks. Thermodynamic Hydrate Inhibitors (THI) and Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors (LDHI) help manage hydrate formation. Here, we use a novel isothermal approach using a PVT cell to experimentally find the hydrate equilibrium point of natural gas and brine. In addition, a constant temperature and pressure condition is used to compare hydrate formation with and without hydrate inhibitors.

First, to better understand the novel isothermal technique, natural gas-brine equilibrium experiments were conducted. Secondly, a constant pressure and temperature approach is used to investigate Kinetic Hydrate Inhibitors (KHIs) and low dosage methanol performance on hydrate formation. The formation and dissociation points are detected through a sudden drop or peak in the pressure profile, respectively, and by visual observation. To evaluate inhibitor performance, the experiments were conducted at challenging temperatures between -0.5°C to 3°C, applicable to the environment offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

Two commercial KHIs and one THI were tested. Both KHIs showed good performance up to certain level of subcooling according to their concentration. However, KHI-B performed better at inhibiting hydrates compared to KHI-A despite its lower concentrations compared to KHI-A. The induction time for 1 wt% KHI-A under 10°C subcooling at a temperature of 0.75°C was 311 min. The induction time for 1 wt% KHI-B under 12°C subcooling at a temperature of 2.66°C was 184 min. Yet, in the case of KHI B, with half the concentration (0.5 wt%), no hydrate formed at temperature of 1.21°C and 10°C subcooling. Low dosage methanol (a common THI) was also assessed. Although the induction time under 10.36°C subcooling and constant temperature of −0.43°C was only 47 min, no hydrate formed within 22 hours at −0.12°C under 7.5°C subcooling.

This work uses a novel experimental isothermal approach by PVT cell to investigate hydrate equilibrium and the effectiveness of different inhibitors. Hence, a better understanding of natural gas hydrate equilibrium in brine is developed. Based on significant costs associated with injecting high quantities of THI (e.g., methanol) to prevent hydrate formation, this work also compares the performance of KHIs and low dosage THI (methanol).

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