Mountain Equipment Line Heater FAQ

What is a line heater?

A line heater is a large water filled tank that has pressure coils made of high-pressure pipe inside the tank. The water is heated by burners and distributed under the water tank (called a "water bath") via burner tubes. The hot water in the bath in turn heats the high-pressure coils which convey heat into the well flow running through the coils. This is why this type of line heater is also called an "indirect line heater". Line heaters are typically skid or trailer mounted.

How is a line heater used?

Line heaters have several uses; first and foremost, choked line heaters prevent the formation of hydrates when flow pressure is reduced at the choke. Whenever a major reduction in pressure occurs there is a corresponding cooling of the flow and this can cause ice and methane hydrates to form downstream of the choke which will shut down the flow.

Line heaters may also be used to warm the flow to improve separation; this can be helpful if wax or asphaltenes are a problem. This works better when the line heater’s coil pack has enough passes to allow for sufficient heat transfer. Line heaters are also used to allow the flow to "settle" if it is foamy or effervescent.

What pressure can the line heaters handle?

There are two pressures for our line heaters, the high (upstream) pressure and the low (downstream) pressure. In between the high and low pressure coils sits the variable choke which is the device that actually lowers the pressure of the well flow. We offer 10,000# or 6,000# psi upstream (high) and 3,000# or 1440# psi downstream (low) pressure coils. We can also build coil packs to specific pressure requirements for larger orders.

Are all your line heaters choked?

Yes, we typically incorporate a variable choke. The choke can be a 1" or 2" choke and we use a tungsten-carbide stem and seat to fight corrosion and sand washing. If you require a different choke arrangement, please let us know.

What is a "standard density" coil pack?

A standard density coil pack has 12 total passes; four are high pressure upstream passes and the other eight are downstream of the choke, and hence, low pressure coils. This is the most common density if your main use of the line heater is pressure reduction at the choke and the prevention of ice and hydrates.

What is a "high density" coil pack?

A high density coil pack has 18 total passes; four are high pressure upstream passes and the other fourteen are downstream of the choke, and hence, low pressure coils. This is a good density both for hydrate / ice prevention as well as providing a moderate amount of heat transfer to the well flow. High density is the most flexible density and the most popular.

What is an "ultra-high density" coil pack?

An ultra-high density coil pack has 24 total passes; six are high pressure upstream passes and the other eighteen are downstream of the choke, and hence, low pressure coils. This coil density provides the greatest amount of heat transfer from the hot water bath to the well flow. This is the most expensive coil pack density because it uses far more pipe and bends and it requires more finessing and welding. Please note that the higher your flow rate, the less time the flow will be exposed to the heating effects of the coils so the amount of heat transfer you get will directly correspond to your flow volume. The higher the flow temperature increase desired, the lower the flow volume.

Do you offer NACE coil packs?

Yes we do. Please be sure to discuss your sour service needs with your sales person.

How many gallons of water does the water bath require?

  • 1 MM BTU model — Approximately 2,800 gallons. This will vary depending on the density of the coil pack.

  • 1.5 MM BTU model — Approximately 3,500 gallons. This will vary depending on the density of the coil pack.

  • 2 MM model — Approximately 4,500 gallons. This will vary depending on the density of the coil pack.

Can I pull the trailer mounted line heater with water in the bath?

No, always drain the water bath before moving the line heater. Never, ever take the trailer on any public road with any water in the tank (bath).

Do I need to use anti-freeze in the water bath in the winter?

It depends on if you plan to always keep the line heater running or not. If there is any chance that the line heater could go out for a significant amount of time while the temperature is below freezing, adding anti-freeze may be a good idea. However, be aware that local environmental laws may take issue with you draining several thousand gallons of water and anti-freeze. Be sure to check with your Company Man or other local knowledgeable resource before draining the water bath tank.

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