This paper presents the outcome of investigations on the effects of H2S consumption in the annulus of a flexible pipe. Low-molecular gases, such as CH4, H2S, H2O and CO2, permeate slowly from the bore through the inner liner into the annular space between the inner liner and outer sheath of a flexible pipe. This space is densely packed with carbon steel armour wires leaving a very limited free volume. In the presence of water, a corrosive environment for the armour wires is generated and a risk of sour service cracking is introduced. H2S concentration in the annulus is traditionally calculated by balancing the inflow through inner liner and the outflow through outer sheath and vent valve.
In order to assure H2S resistance of the armour wires towards calculated H2S concentrations, pipes for sour service are typically designed with lower strength wire grades of larger dimensions compared to the possibilities of sweet service pipes. Over the last decade, more and more offshore data has been obtained indicating considerably less H2S in the annulus than predicted by the traditional annulus models.
This observation has triggered in-depth investigations of the complex corrosive H2S environment inside a flexible pipe annulus exposed to sour service conditions. An extensive small-scale test program has been conducted and showed that at permeation rates typical for flexible pipes, the consumption of H2S in the corrosion processes occurring in the annular space lowers the concentration and hence criticality of the H2S so significantly that it leaves the traditional models overly conservative to an extreme extent.
Using this knowledge of consumption of the corrosive gases in the annulus has become an increasingly important topic with the focus on deeper waters, cost savings and service life extensions without compromising flexible pipe integrity.
Based on experimental data obtained, a new annulus model for prediction of H2S pressure in annulus has been derived. Data is presented in this paper to illustrate the methodology for an annulus prediction where the consumption of H2S is included. The data presented covers laboratory tests with variations and effects of gas flux, H2S concentration and total pressure. A full-scale validation, led to an Independent Verification Agency certification of the model.
With the introduction of this new annulus prediction model, a wider range of wire products becomes available for the pipe designers. Lower weight pipes with stronger armour wires render optimizations for both cost savings and applications at deeper waters possible.