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Research project: Underwater gas blowouts

With support from the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) and other industry actors, the independent research organisation SINTEF has established a research project to learn more about the effects and hazards of underwater gas blowouts.


Gas blowouts from gas pipelines and wells are a potential safety issue for surface activities associated with day-to-day operations and accident intervention. In order to improve safety, there is accordingly a need for reliable estimates of how much gas flows to the surface and how it is dispersed into the atmosphere in the event of such a blowout. There is presently uncertainty about this, since all scientific experiment has been conducted with small volumes of gas and no incidents involving large volumes of gas have been adequately documented.

A research project focused on how the gas flows to the surface and how much is dissolved in the water has recently been initiated. The project is being carried out by SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, with support from the petroleum industry.

The project will:

  • develop computational models for gas transport in the water
  • develop and conduct experiments to improve insight and to enhance the validation basis of the computational models

Reference source
The results of the project will be used to establish a reference source for how much gas flows to the surface and how it is dispersed at the surface for different emissions scenarios.

This is important knowledge to possess both in connection with field development and for implementing precise measures for stopping a leak. There is also a need to determine how close to the cloud vessels and rescue equipment may approach.

The risks associated with underwater gas blowouts are relevant to the petroleum industry worldwide. Since researchers have yet to solve these problems, the results from this project may also have international importance.

The project will conclude in the spring of 2015 and is supported by Shell, BP, Statoil, Total, Gassco, DNV, Safetec and the PSA.

Report
The project is a continuation of the "Risks associated with gas emissions under water" report of 2006, to which the PSA also contributed.

Contact:
Jan Erik Olsen, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry
E-mail: Jan.E.Olsen@sintef.no