MEG and the environment don’t really get along that well. But of course, we’re not talking about anyone named Meg, either. No, this post has to do with Mono-ethylene Glycol (aka: MEG), its potential effects on the environment, and why it might not be the best option for freeze protecting your pipeline.
Oil, Gas, and the Environment
The petroleum and natural-gas industries have plenty to worry about when it comes to environmental concerns. With this in mind, adding another toxic and dangerous element to the mix doesn’t make for an ideal situation. Nonetheless, many companies use a certain, potentially-dangerous, and toxic chemical to keep their pipelines from freezing or creating hydrates. And that chemical is MEG (or mono-ethylene glycol).
Mono-ethylene glycol is used as an additive in pipelines that transport natural gas or oil. The presence of the chemical lowers the freezing point and prevents the formation of hydrates. This is the same chemical used as anti-freeze in automobiles.
MEG, though useful for its anti-freeze qualities, is also potentially dangerous for two primary reasons. The number one reason is its toxicity. It can be deadly if ingested or inhaled in high enough quantities. Second is the flammability and combustibility of the chemical. Simply put, it can catch fire and even explode under the right circumstances.
While those who use MEG most often do so with care and knowledge of the chemical, why add the risk in the first place? If a pipeline were to leak this chemical, the effects could be significantly detrimental—both to those working the pipeline and the environment around it.
A Better Solution
Now what if there was a better solution? Well, there is. When it comes to protecting your pipeline against freezing conditions or hydrate formation, trace-heating solutions are a good answer for long stretches of pipe. And as far as valves, manifolds, and instrumentation are concerned, heating solutions that offer both insulation and heat distribution in one product are very important.
Finding a solution that can be easily applied, removed, and reapplied to your pipeline’s transition points is of considerable importance when ensuring ideal temperature is maintained. Thankfully, such solutions exist. And they offer an economic, safe, and non-toxic way to keep your pipeline functional in cold and inclement weather.