Less Drag, More Profits

February 1, 2019

With the skyrocketing global demand for oil comes an urgent need to solve a common barrier to increasing capacity: pipeline drag. Optum Energy Solutions is an industry leader in tackling this problem, and now they’re able to produce millions of gallons of their innovative drag reducing agents (DRA), thanks to an investment in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on 60 acres in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Optum looked to us for the plant’s design, and after a great deal of planning, our team delivered detailed plans for the plant’s mechanical, electrical, structural, civil and controls systems. We also provided on-site inspection and support, commissioning and start-up services throughout construction. Our talented team for this multimillion dollar project included UCI as general contractor, Piping & Equipment Co., Inc., and Shelley Electric, Inc.

Optum’s product is revolutionary. Traditionally, if pipeline operators wanted to increase capacity, they had to lay a parallel pipeline – also known as a “loop” – a time-consuming, expensive and environmentally disruptive process. But now Optum’s versatile DRA technology can instantly increase a pipeline’s value and capacity with only minimal economic cost and surface disturbance. Another benefit: Optum’s technology obviates the need for local, state and federal permitting.

Optum’s new, water-based DRA technology, Flow Optimizer™, guarantees fast, effective results. The key to Flow Optimizer’s success is Optum’s cutting-edge proprietary process to create an ultra-high molecular weight hydrocarbon polymer similar to the major components of crude oil. This active ingredient dissolves into the hydrocarbon stream found in crude oil without collecting on pipeline walls. When those hydrocarbon liquids burst wildly about inside the pipeline, those bursts increase the drag or amount of energy it takes to move liquid through the pipeline. Flow Optimizer works by barring the creation and spread of those turbulent hydrocarbon surges. The result is a more streamlined flow with less drag.

Optum reports it has enjoyed significant success with its three Flow Optimizer formulations (for temperate climates, for winter applications and for environments that are consistently well below freezing). According to a report in the February 2018 edition of “World Pipelines,” Optum’s additive resulted in drag reductions of up to 80%, with flow increases of more than 100%.

With oil prices and production on the rise, operators continue to face a growing need to move still larger quantities of crude oil. At a fraction of the cost of laying parallel pipelines, Flow Optimizer by Optum offers a more immediate solution to a longstanding problem, helping meet the global hunger for oil and providing a boon to pipeline operators.