Polymer Science Applications in Oil and Gas Industry

petrolPolymer chemists study large, complex molecules that are built up from many smaller units. They study how the monomers combine, and create useful materials with specific characteristics by manipulating the molecular structure of the monomers/polymers used, the composition of the monomer/polymer combinations, to a large extent, affect the properties of the final product by applying chemical and processing techniques.


The chemical industry is crucial to modern world economies, and works to convert raw materials such as oil, natural gas, air, water, metals, and minerals into more than 80,000 different products. To make consumer products, as well as in the manufacturing, service, construction, agriculture, and other industries those base products are used. Majority of the chemical industry’s output is polymers and polymer-related, including elastomers, fibers, plastics, adhesives, coatings, and more. Rubber and plastic products, textiles, apparel, petroleum refining, pulp and paper, and primary metals are the major industries served.

Oil & Gas

The entire oil and gas industry chain, from upstream oil and gas production activities, to midstream, and finally downstream refinery production of fuels, uses the polymeric materials only. Solid-state polymers such as plastics, fibers, and elastomers for use in oil well sites and off-shore platforms, with applications including construction of structures such as pipelines, propellants in hydraulic fracturing, and as coatings. Polymeric additives are used in upstream oil production applications as well stimulants, drilling fluids, corrosion inhibitors, scaling inhibitors, and viscosity modifiers. They are even used as components of cements used in protecting casings down hole.

In downstream operations, polymeric additives are used to overcome operational issues in the refinery, distribution systems, and storage tanks and in different fuel transport and combustion applications. Finally to improve performance features. To resolve specific issues at a refinery, polymers may be used as stand-alone products, and combined with other products to create a multi-functional package for use in finished fuels for the automotive industry.  Some specific examples of polymeric additives used in downstream applications include synthetic base stocks for lubricants, pipeline drag reducers, cold flow improvers, demulsifiers, deposit control additives, dispersants, friction modifiers, corrosion inhibitors, antifoamants, and viscosity improvers.

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