Potential applications of products from oilseed rape in the offshore oil and gas industry


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 March 1996 - 31 December 1996
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
£18,000 From HGCA (Project no. OS04/1/96)
Project leader:
A Wilkinson and S Grigson Institute of Offshore Engineering, Heriot Watt University



About this project


During the exploration and production of oil and gas, a vast quantity of chemicals are consumed. Oil industry operations can be divided into two categories, drilling and production, and it has been estimated that these activities offer a combined annual market of over two-hundred thousand tonnes of process chemicals. Further, it is interesting to note that of these two-hundred thousand tonnes, over one-hundred thousand tonnes are 'lost' into the environment each year. As a consequence, there are strong regulatory pressures on the oil and gas companies to move towards the use of 'greener' chemicals.

Oilseed rape is a source of a variety of products, the most important of which are:

(i) rapeseed oil,
(ii) fatty acids;
(iii) glycerides;
(iv) glycerol; and
(v) meal.

These products exhibit a range of physico-chemical properties which are of interest to the oil and gas industry, and could, for example, find use in applications such as: base oils and lubricity aids for both oil based and water based drilling fluids; surfactants for use in demulsifiers, emulsion breakers and oil-wetting agents; shale stabilisers for use during drilling; and absorbents for treating oil or chemicals spills on a drilling or production platform.

In short, therefore, the offshore oil and gas industry represents a large and on going market for chemicals many of which could, potentially, be formulated using materials derived from oilseed rape.

This specific investigation was predominantly a practical study during which the most promising new products were subjected to a laboratory evaluation to assess their performance under control led conditions.

Five new oilseed rape based products were developed and assessed, these being:

(i) a drilling mud emulsifier;
(ii) an oil spill emulsion breaker;
(iii) a combined gas drying agent and anti-freeze;
(iv) a corrosion inhibitor; and
(v) a general purpose absorbent.

The initial tests indicated that these products performed as effectively as traditional products.