5 Need to Know Facts about Black Powder in Oil and Gas Pipelines

5 Need to Know Facts about Black Powder in Oil and Gas Pipelines

5 Need to Know Facts about Black Powder in Oil and Gas Pipelines

One of the biggest and most prevalent problems affecting the efficient operation of gas and hydrocarbon pipelines is corrosion caused by black powder. This accumulation of corrosion is described as black powder due to the black pyrrhotite that is produced when water, oxygen, hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide react with the ferrous steel pipe. Pipeline rust, or black powder, forms when iron in the pipeline wall reacts with these other compounds to form corrosion.

As awareness of the problems caused by black powder increases, Eclipse Magnetics have compiled 5 need to know facts about it, including the ways in which black powder can affect oil, gas and hydrocarbon pipelines.

It’s Called Black Pyrrhotite, but it’s Not Always Black

Despite the name, black powder may also present itself in a variety of shades of brown depending on the mineral makeup of the production field and comprises of iron oxides, iron sulfides, dirt such as silica and calcium, as well as chloride, sodium, and other material particulate. It has the capacity to form throughout most stages of the process in either a powder, a liquid, or a black sludge like substance, built up from very fine, often submicron particles.

Black Powder Reduces the Usable Diameter of Pipelines

Particulate can build up in well bores, gathering lines, transmission pipelines, and in the fluid separation reservoirs. Whilst the formation is gradual, black powder can accumulate several thousands of kilograms in untreated pipelines. Black powder formation reduces the usable diameter of the pipeline thereby reducing flow and pressure, therefore expensive pipeline scraping is often required to address the problem.

Black Powder Accelerates Erosion

Black powder is harder than the typical carbon steel used to make pipelines and other components. This can mean its presence accelerates further erosion of the pipe wall. In turn, natural erosion of the pipe wall further adds to the accumulation of contamination. Components such as compressors, meters, valves and furnace nozzles can be damaged by abrasive wear or blocked by accumulation. This can result in inefficient operation, labour intensive cleaning or expensive parts replacement.

It is Prone to Combustion

Black powder can also be prone to combustion when in the powdered form. This means disposal of black powder contamination or contaminated filters is a long and costly process which requires specialist equipment and procedures. Pipelines traditionally use disposable barrier or cartridge filters to address the problem. These require regular changes as they become blocked or ineffective. This results in excessive replacement consumable filter costs, maintenance/labour costs and waste disposal costs.

Black Powder is an Expensive Problem

Each year black powder formation costs pipeline industries several million dollars in direct costs alone, making the resultant financial costs across worldwide industry enormous. Investing in equipment that optimises the management of black powder is a necessity not only for the sustainability and efficiency of pipelines, but for the prevention of dangerous pipeline leakages and associated problems.

Solutions to the Problem of Black Powder

Magnetic technology has the capacity to effectively reduce contamination levels through proactive methods, successfully maintaining the integrity of pipelines by mitigating the problems that black powder can cause. Find out more about Eclipse Magnetics’ innovative pipeline solution, the Ultrafiltrex >>