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Pioneering pipeline heater

October 12, 1998, 10:00 CEST

The world's first system for electrical heating of submarine pipelines is being adopted by Statoil.

This solution will be applied to 45 kilometres of flowline running to the group's Åsgard B platform in the Norwegian Sea. The aim is to avoid the formation of hydrate.

Plans call for the platform to come on stream in the second half of 2000. The heating system will then only be used when production from a well is shut in.

Under such conditions, the temperature inside the flowline will sink to a point at which hydrate - an ice-like substance - could form and cause possible blockages.

Almost 60 kilometres of high-voltage cable, due to be delivered in the first half of 2000, will be used to warm up the Åsgard flowlines.

The new electric heating system has been developed by Statoil in cooperation with Saga Petroleum, Alcatel, Coflexip Stena Offshore and the Sintef research foundation in Trondheim.

"This method is both low-cost and environment-friendly," says Atle Harald Børnes, the Statoil manager for a NOK 60 million frame agreement with Alcatel Kabel Norge for high-voltage cables.

"I wouldn't be surprised if electrical heating proves to be considerably cheaper than the traditional methods for hydrate and wax control, which involve adding methanol or glycol. It'll probably be relevant to use the new system on other fields as well."

The high-voltage cables will be attached to six flowlines while they are being laid. These lines are about six-nine kilometres long and will run from three wells on Smørbukk.

Åsgard B is due to be installed on the field in 2000.