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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 is to demonstrate the protection capabilities and economic benefits of Oceanit’s internal pipe surface treatment, known as DragX™. DragX™ is a chemically resistant, water-and-oil repellent nanocomposite system that can be readily applied in-situ on natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines with a minimum of surface preparation, making it an ideal candidate for in-place retrofitting and refurbishment of existing pipelines without the need for expensive extraction and replacement. DragX™ is also able to significantly reduce the surface roughness, and subsequently, the frictional drag forces within a pipeline, improving throughput, decreasing energy costs of pressurization and pumping, and allowing for longer pipeline operation without interruption, reducing the methane emitted during pipe isolation and venting.


Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii 96813


The vast, interconnected inter- and intra-state pipeline network is vital to the transportation of water, hazardous liquids, raw materials, and energy in the form of natural gas and liquid petroleum products. Although pipeline transport is safer and cheaper than ground transportation, they still pose a risk of major disaster due to infrastructure aging and failure. Disruptions to flow through corrosion and scale deposits can also significantly decrease transport efficiency, adding cost through additional pumping energy requirements, lost product, and unplanned emergency shutdowns.

While methods currently exist to monitor the health of a pipeline system as a whole, pinpoint inspection and location tools to identify and repair specific areas are not commercially available. Replacement of entire pipelines is non-viable due to the expensive cost and extended amounts of inoperability and determining which areas are in need of replacement proves to be a significant challenge. 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 the majority 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.

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)
  • Laboratory testing of DragX™ protection against MIC growth demonstrated a 97% reduction in weight loss as compared to untreated surfaces in the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB). DragX™ also reduced the concentration of adhered bacteria to the substrate by over 90%.

  • Oceanit presented its findings at the NETL-hosted 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting.

  • In collaboration with a major oil and gas exploration and production company, Oceanit deployed DragX™ to protect produced water pipelines from aggressive microbially induced corrosion (MIC). The resultant trial demonstrated that a line with a history of aggressive MIC was completely protected by DragX™ application over the course of six months of active use.

  • Oceanit deployed DragX™ as part of a commercial field trial 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 solutions up to 5N.

  • Oceanit demonstrated the economic value of DragX™ for an international energy company by applying its numerical model to a candidate 100+ km pipeline.

  • Oceanit provided material for a 3rd party applicator to apply on a trial basis to reduce pitting corrosion and drag as a result of cavitation forces and turbulent flow around a restrictive valve.

  • DragX™ was determined to be compatible with typical pipeline conditions, including non-interference with existing smart logging tools, non-reactivity with natural gas, and abrasion resistance sufficient to hold up to repeated wire-brush pigging.

  • Oceanit presented its current findings at the NETL-hosted 2019 Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage and Oil and Gas Technologies Integrated Review Meeting in August 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA.

  • DragX™ was shown to have no adverse effects when rapidly pressurized/depressurized up to 1000psi in order to simulate the most extreme conditions that might occur near a valve/pump.

  • Oceanit hosted a second private technology showcase at the Offshore Technology Conference 2019 in Houston, TX to a selected group of interested commercial field trial partners.

  • DragX™ was shown to be able to successfully treat multi-diameter pipelines and to fully treat typical pipeline internal features such as flanges, weld seams, and joints using the in-situ pigging method.

  • DragX™ was shown to provide a 20% reduction in measured and calculated surface roughness in comparison to in-use, corroded pipeline steel in a 540’ flow loop in Houston.

  • A manuscript and conference presentation were given at 2018 ADIPEC, held November 2018 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

  • A poster presentation highlighting the deployment of DragX™ on a wastewater line was presented at the 2018 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference held in October 2018 in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.

  • DragX™ was shown to provide a 33% improvement over mechanical pigging alone in a field trial during field experiments held on a heavily corroded and tuburcule filled pipeline section in Honolulu.

  • A presentation highlighting the benefits of DragX™ on water treatment was presented at the Asia Water Forum 2018.

  • A commercial field application on a geometrically complex wastewater pipeline was successfully completed as a proof-of-concept validation for DragX™ optimized application conditions and quality control metrics.

  • Successful transition from Phase II/Budget Period II to Phase III/Budget Period III as of 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.

  • DragX™ was presented at OTC 2018 in Houston, TX. This conference paper and corresponding talk presented the idea of an omniphobic coating as a potential way to promote flow assurance.

  • Oceanit conducted additional (second) field trials in order to test an updated version of the RIVEAL system for coating quality control and monitoring.

  • Improvements to the design have been implemented and include the internalization of the light and camera assembly, which allows for better durability, especially around bends in the pipeline. The internal housing for the battery and camera was also redesigned in order to provide better impact resistance.

  • The pigging system was tested in Houston on a system consisting of both treated and untreated pipe sections from previous trial runs.

  • Quality control tool was further developed. Oceanit’s approach for this tool involves the utilization of a new, proprietary method of color analysis that can closely discern varying colors, especially in low light conditions.

  • Oceanit presented the subscale testing results at the 2018 NACE Corrosion Conference in Phoenix, AZ.

  • Successful transition from Phase I/Budget Period I to Phase II/Budget Period II as of August 15, 2017.

  • Briefed the DOE NETL Office of Fossil Energy on successful pilot field demonstration on July 27, 2017.

  • Development and demonstration of in-line inspection tool to locate areas of corrosion and deposits.

  • Proof of concept quality control processing module for field evaluation of applied coating.

  • Developed data analysis method to assess coating coverage, health, and application quality.

  • Completed mechanical characterization of applied coating, demonstrating substantial reductions in surface roughness, NACE-acceptable adhesion of the coating to the pipeline interior, and increases in hydrophobicity.

  • Oceanit highlighted the work at a private technology showcase at the Offshore Technology Conference 2017 in Houston, TX, with over 100 oil and gas industry leaders attending.

  • Successfully coated the interior of 180’, 6” test pipeline at facility established in Houston, TX, using the in situ pigging technique.

  • Showed chemical compatibility with typical petroleum and natural gas products, as well as remaining inert to extreme pH (acidic and basic) solutions.

  • Optimization of coating formulations for application via in-situ pigging.

  • Material formulation and sourcing secured; processes scaled up for application to pipelines.

  • Kickoff meeting with NETL held October 28, 2016.

Current Status

Oceanit has now planned and executed a number of field trials with commercial partners to validate DragX™ in a number of different pipeline applications both with respect to natural gas products, crude oil products, wastewater, and produced water. Oceanit’s preliminary economic value model that can predict the relative improvement in reduced pressure drop, increased throughput, and reduction in pipeline diameter (for newly installed or replacement lines) was developed and validated with one of these economic partners. A general guideline of 15–25% reduction in frictional drag has generally been demonstrated for DragX™ pilot deployments under this research effort. Additionally, no compatibility issues with any pipeline product has been reported thus far. Extended lifetime field trials are currently underway in order to allow for a final determination on DragX™ effective use guidelines. Further refinements to surface preparation and application methods are still being investigated based on feedback from commercial partners. An additional field trial has shown that DragX™ has a beneficial effect in mitigating microbially-induced corrosion (MIC); completely arresting the formation of pitting and the adhesion of bacteria colonies; this field trial result has been further validated under controlled laboratory conditions, and additional deployments in aggressive MIC environments are planned during this project.

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)