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Title: Black powder in sales’-gas transmission pipelines
Category: Technical papers from the Journal of Pipeline Engineering
Downloadable: Yes 
Catalog No.: 2120s
Date of Publication: December, 2007
Price: $25.00 US
Authors: MuhammadAli M Trabulsi
Abstract: BLACK POWDER solids are a world-wide phenomenon in sales’-gas transmission pipelines. These solid compounds can delay in-line inspection, erode control valves, and contaminate customer supply. Saudi Aramco has developed multiple initiatives to identify black powder compound types and sources, determine formation mechanisms, and identify removal processes. These initiatives include: (1) using advanced mechanical cleaning tools, (2) performing basic research in identifying black powder compound types and formation mechanism, (3) pilot testing chemical-cleaning methods, (4) planning a field test for an inertial separator filtration system, (5) revising company standards and construction practices, and (6) assessing the economic and technical feasibilities of installing particle filters. Before comprehensive solutions can be formed, the following questions need to be answered: How is the black powder formed? What level of black powder cleanliness is desired in the line?

The type of black powder in a line can be used to determine the chemical reactions that have taken place to form it. The level of black powder cleanliness desired in the line will dictate the degree of cleaning required to reach the specified cleanliness level (for example, mechanical cleaning only, versus chemical cleaning or filter installation). Finally, world-wide gas quality standards do not specify a solids’ amount. Simply declaring the gas to be “commercially-free” of solids is ambiguous and creates difficulties in designing proper facilities to meet this ambiguous requirement. Answers to the above questions can direct the impacted operating companies to a more-focused and effective solution. This paper discusses the history of black powder in Saudi Aramco, its impacts, the initiatives that Saudi Aramco has taken, and what our research discovered on how black powder is formed.

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