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In-Situ Pipeline Coatings for Methane Emissions Mitigation and Quantification from Natural Gas Pipelines
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The objective of the proposed research was to demonstrate the protection capabilities and economic benefits of Oceanit’s internal pipeline surface treatment known as DragX™. DragX™ is a chemically resistant, water-and-oil repellent nanocomposite material system that can be readily applied in-situ on natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. Its properties enable in-place refurbishment of existing pipelines without the need for expensive extraction and replacement. From an operations standpoint, DragX™ is also able to significantly lower the surface roughness of the pipeline interior, subsequently reducing pressure drop, improving throughput, decreasing energy costs of pumping, and allowing for longer pipeline operation without interruption. DragX™ can aid in the decarbonization of the country through improving pump station efficiency, reducing methane emissions during maintenance, lessening the chances of persistent leaks, and allowing for rapid retrofitting of pipelines for new fuel types and blends.


Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii 96813


Addressing the current health of the nation’s existing 3 million miles of pipeline infrastructure is key to preventing further climate change. In 2020, natural gas production exceeded 34 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Roughly 75% of natural gas consists of methane (CH4), which is up to 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping heat within the atmosphere over a 100-year period, and studies from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) estimate approximately 2% of all the natural gas produced will be lost during normal operations due to unaddressed leaks. This does not even consider the risks of major disaster due to pipeline failure, or the losses and extra fuel costs incurred due to corrosion and scale deposits in under-maintained pipelines.

While methods currently exist to monitor the health of a pipeline system, pinpoint inspection tools to identify and locate specific areas in need of repair are not commercially available. Replacement of entire pipelines is generally economically non-viable due to the cost and required downtime. As the pipeline network continues to age, the cost of maintenance and monitoring of all these systems will continue to increase while becoming exponentially more difficult to address. Thus, there is an imminent need for a new approach that provides economically efficient retrofitting of existing pipelines in-place.


The United States has over 1.2 million miles of natural gas transport pipelines laid, more than any other country in the world, with most of these lines buried underground. This makes replacement or refurbishment of damaged pipelines cost-prohibitive and substantially limits the capability for widespread effective detection of pipeline health, deposit formation, and overall performance. The proposed research allows for a novel, cost-effective method of finding, repairing, and mitigating damage in pipeline interiors while being minimally disruptive to normal pipeline operation. The treatment can significantly improve the economics of energy transport by providing flow assurance, limiting catastrophic blowouts, and minimizing product loss from small but sustained leaks.

Beyond the already field demonstrated applications, this innovative nanocomposite surface treatment has the potential to be the backbone for CO2 and Hydrogen transporting pipeline infrastructure. The learnings from this project could accelerate the deployment of surface treatment technologies related to the energy transition infrastructure, thus benefitting the clean energy initiatives in the United States and all around the world.

Key Benefits of DragX™

Public Benefits Capital Expense Savings Operational Expense Savings

Reduction in CO2 and methane emissions due to maintenance-related pipeline opening/venting.

Enhanced pipeline lifetime, allowing avoidance of replacement and trenching activities. 10-15% improved throughput for pipelines due to reduced internal surface roughness.
Reduction in risk for CO2 and methane emissions due to slow leaks caused by internal pipeline corrosion and pinhole leak formation. Improved compressor pump lifetime due to increased efficiency. Improved operational efficiency allows for reduced schedule of cleaning (fewer pigging runs, reduced usage of chemicals, less downtime).
Reduction in fuel and chemical usage in transport and cleaning activities. Protection of pipeline after treatment allows for smaller corrosion allowance during the installation of new line (wall thickness, pipe material, continuous chemical treatment) Enhanced flow properties can allow for reduced reliance on chemical flow assurance treatments (e.g., DRAs).
Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • Successfully deployed DragX™ on a 20-inch test line in collaboration with a major pipeline operator in North America. Final internal pipeline roughness was significantly lower than the intended target of 200 µinch.
  • Developed capabilities to fabricate DragX™ material at the drum level (55 gallons) to allow for commercial deployment.
  • Presented final project findings and summary at the NETL-hosted 2021 Carbon Management and Oil and Gas Research Virtual Project Review Meeting.
  • Quantified that DragX™ can reduce microbially-induced corrosion (MIC) by over 97% and reduced the concentration of adhered sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB) by over 90% by analyzing field trial results.
  • Deployed DragX™ in collaboration with a major oil and gas exploration and production company to protect produced water pipelines from MIC. The resulting treated line was completely protected by DragX™ application over the course of six months of active use.
  • Presented key project updates at the NETL-hosted 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting. 
  • Completed a commercial field trial using DragX™ to reduce erosion and corrosion on a gas pipeline. Results from this trial confirmed that pressure drop within the line could be reduced by up to 15%, while showing compatibility with strong acid cleaning solutions up to 5N concentration.
  • In collaboration with a major energy partner, developed a numerical model to estimate economic value of DragX™ on a candidate 60+ mile pipeline.
  • Completed a field application of DragX™ to a test pipeline to reduce pitting corrosion and drag forces surrounding a restrictive valve. 
  • Presented findings and progress at the NETL-hosted 2019 Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage and Oil and Gas Technologies Integrated Review Meeting in August 2019 (Pittsburgh, PA).
  • Hosted a technology showcase and demonstration event at the Offshore Technology Conference 2019 in Houston, TX to key interested commercial field trial partners.
  • Demonstrated a 20% reduction in measured and calculated surface roughness after application of DragX™ in comparison to in-use, corroded pipeline steel in a 540’ flow loop in Houston.
  • Presented a manuscript at ADIPEC 2018, held November 2018 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, summarizing field trial results.
  • Completed a poster presentation at the 2018 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference held in October 2018 in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, summarizing a case study deployment of DragX™ on a wastewater line 
  • Quantified a 33% improvement in throughput when using DragX™ versus mechanical pigging alone as part of a field trial on previously-worn pipeline sections in Honolulu, HI.
  • Presented the benefits and field trial case studies of DragX™ on water treatment pipelines at the Asia Water Forum 2018.
  • Completed proof-of-concept validation for DragX™ optimized application conditions and quality control metrics on a geometrically complex wastewater pipeline.
  • Successfully transitioned from Phase II/Budget Period II to Phase III/Budget Period III on August 1, 2018.
  • Developed a numerical model based on Darcy-Weisbach equation for both pressurized liquefied natural gas and gaseous product to predict throughput improvements based on reduced internal surface roughness.
  • Presented the flow assurance benefits of DragX™ at OTC 2018 in Houston, TX.
  • Presented subscale testing results of first DragX™ deployment at 2018 NACE Corrosion Conference in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Successfully transitioned from Phase I/Budget Period I to Phase II/Budget Period II as of August 15, 2017.
  • Hosted technology showcase and demonstration event at the Offshore Technology Conference 2017 in Houston, TX, with over 100 oil and gas industry leaders attending. 
  • Completed first test deployment of DragX™ using the in-situ pigging technique on interior of 180’, 6” test pipeline at facility established in Houston, TX.
Current Status

Based on the qualification and validation DragX™ in several different pipeline applications in collaboration with several commercial partners during this project, Oceanit is transitioning the technology to a fully deployable commercial product for pipelines with respect to natural gas products, crude oil, wastewater, and produced water. Using tools developed within the project, Oceanit can predict the relative improvement in reduced pressure drop, increased throughput, and reduction in pipeline diameter (for newly installed or replacement lines) with the application of DragX™. This research effort has confirmed a general guideline of 15–25% reduction in frictional drag, and compatibility with a wide variety of pipeline products, demonstrating significant economic value.

The unique combination of highly adaptable application and broad chemical resistance also allows the technology to be a part of a future transition away from traditional fossil fuel energy resources. DragX™ is currently being investigated further to retrofit existing pipeline infrastructure for blended natural gas or pure hydrogen transport by many of the same commercial partners who aided in development and de-risking. Its demonstrated compatibility in sour gas conditions also makes it an intriguing option to protect existing CO2 storage from corrosion and leaks. DragX™ is positioned well as a solution for the problems of today and the problems of tomorrow. 

DragX™ is field tested, de-risked, and approved by several major industry partners both in Oil and Gas and other industries. Widespread use of DragX™ could be a gamechanger for industry in terms of improving the resiliency, longevity, and efficiency of natural gas pipeline infrastructure in the United States.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Total: $2,437,500

Contact Information

NETL – William Fincham ( or 304-285-4268)
Oceanit – Vinod Veedu ( or 713-357-9622)

Additional Information