The Tiebacks Symposium is a biannual event which builds on our previous Flow Assurance Workshops, broadening in scope to take a holistic view of the challenges that face subsea operations. These meetings are designed to create an interface between student and staff research projects and critical technology goals within the energy community. The symposia provide a forum in which young scholars can present their latest results and analyses, to gain feedback on the applicability of their results with an industrial context. Since the first Workshop in November 2013, our research themes have shifted to align with the challenges facing a new set of subsea tieback developments, and focus research projects across Final Year Project students in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering disciplines, PhD scholars, and postdoctoral research projects:
Theme #1: Improving Long Tieback Integrity. A new generation of long subsea tiebacks seeks to leverage existing infrastructure and extend the reach of production networks to deeper water. These new tiebacks may be on the order of 160 – 300 km for natural gas developments, representing an unprecedented increase in scale. Such projects come with a new set of challenges to manage the challenges of hydrate formation, corrosion and wax precipitation. A holistic view is required to maintain the integrity of flowlines, where we need to begin to consider interactions between different phenomena. As part of this theme, we are embarking on a wide range of experimental and modelling projects which aim to enable high-fidelity simulations that deploy next generation physical modelling of pipeline systems to accurately predict when and where problems may arise. In addition, through a set of collaborations, we are embarking on a program to improve both the resilience of physical infrastructure, and our ability to monitor its condition using advanced sensing techniques.
Theme #2: MEG Reduction. A primary goal of the Centre for Subsea Tiebacks is to assist industry in improving our understanding of THI injection requirements to enable optimization of injection management. This theme focuses on increasing confidence in predicting equilibrium conditions, with the goal of reducing unnecessary chemical use. Further work is being undertaken to understand the fundamentals of when and how much MEG is actually required to safely operate a subsea flowline. Projects in this space aim to tackle the problem using two primary pathways: i) undertaking novel work on understanding the probability of hydrate nucleation, to better inform industry on the likelihood of hydrate formation in their systems and ii) quantifying the performance of systems which are under-inhibited with MEG, to give confidence when operating inside the hydrate region.
This research is of key importance to the triple bottom line of environmental, social and economic concerns surrounding our ability to provide clean, reliable energy to meet growing global demand. Our research seeks to assist the move towards low emissions LNG production as a replacement fuel for traditional energy sources, while providing additional environmental benefits at the local level, where subsea tiebacks will enable operations outside of the highly bio-diverse upper ocean. These developments will enable a new standard of safety and reliability by separating personnel from active equipment, while ensuring a sustainable cost environment to meet both local energy demand and the global requirements for developing nations.
If you are interested in joining the next Tiebacks Symposium meeting, please contact Prof. Zach Aman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr Bruce Norris (email@example.com).
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