Qatar National Research Fund approves new research projects

Doha skyline through the arches at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar

The Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) National Priorities Research Programme has awarded funding for two new joint research projects between Heriot-Watt University's Institute of Petroleum Engineering and their Qataris partners.   Head of Institute, Prof. Dorrik Stow expressed his delight in winning the funding and congratulated the team led by Prof. Bahman Tohidi for the diligent work on the proposal.

The research projects

Prof. Bahman Tohidi leads the Institute's Hydrate-Phase Equilibria (PVT) Research Group, and his team will be working with Qatari research partners on the following projects.

Avoiding gas hydrate problems in Qatari's oil and gas industry: an integrated experimental and modelling approach

Natural gas hydrates are solid substances consist of gas molecules captured in mesh cage system made of water molecules and their formation/stability depend on mixture composition, temperature and pressure. When the constituents of gas hydrates come into contact with each other at high pressure and low temperature conditions, they can form ice-like solid structures.

Gas hydrates could be dangerous to oil and gas industry as they can easily form in subsea pipelines during both start-up/shut-down causing serious operational, occupational and economical consequences. For these reasons, flow assurance management is essential for successful and sustainable operation of oil and gas production both technically and economically.

The main objective of this project is to investigate the natural gas hydrate formation characteristics of Qatari type gas in both experimental (PVTx) and computational (molecular simulations).   We aim:

  • to measure hydrate equilibrium curve and hydrate growth/dissociation conditions for multi-component systems (with and without H2S and CO2 in the mixture);
  • to determine the performance of several kinetic and thermodynamic hydrate inhibitors;
  • to design and test of novel inhibitors for effective hydrate inhibition suitable for Qatari natural gas; and
  • to design suitable monitoring techniques for minimizing inhibitor costs while maximizing reliability of hydrate prevention strategy (digital fields).

The duration of this project is 3 years.

Development of a non-intrusive hydrates detection and localization system for offshore pipelines

In this project it is proposed to build an innovative underwater wireless sensor network that can be used with the concrete coated sub-sea oil & gas pipelines for monitoring conditions related to the flow of the mixture inside the pipeline using audio sensing only. The aim is to detect audio changes in the pipelines resulting from gas hydrate formation.

Usually, the quantities that are measured for this purpose are Temperature, Pressure, Flow rate, and Density of the mixture. In current Oil & Gas settings these are measured at the off-shore facilities, that is, the measurements will only take place once a particular fluid segment reaches the off-shore facility and thus it will be completely blind to any changes taking place kilometres away in the pipeline.

The proposed device can carry the pipeline information from the underlying sensors in near-real-time to the off-shore facility, enabling operators to make timely decisions to treat the fluids in the pipeline to prevent hydrate blockage (e.g., addition of hydrate inhibitors, such as methanol or monoethylene glycol), but above all, to detect where a potential zone for hydrate formation develops in the pipeline.

The proposed work is motivated from particular incidents resulting in the blockage of gas pipelines by hydrate formation that occurred during January 2008, when sudden a temperature drop in the vicinity of Gas pipelines impacted the Oil & Gas industry sector in Qatar.

The duration of this project is 3 years.

About Qatar National Research Fund

The Qatar Foundation envisions research as a catalyst for expanding and diversifying the country's economy; enhancing the education of its citizens and the training of its workforce; and fostering improvements in the health, well-being, environment, and security of its own people and those of the region.