Pipeline bottlenecks have vexed North American oil producers this year, but for companies making a little-known additive called drag-reducing agent (DRA), they have provided a veritable windfall. DRA is injected into pipelines to reduce the contact between the oil and the wall of the pipe, allowing more crude to flow through. It is a tiny but booming business, accounting for about $500 million in global sales – half of that in the United States – but is growing about 8 percent annually, said Brian Watt, senior vice president at specialty chemicals producer Innospec Inc (IOSP.O), based in Englewood, Colorado. Pipeline companies are increasing DRA usage because of bottlenecks and especially inadequate pipeline space in the key North American producing regions of Texas’s Permian Basin and Western Canada. “We’re using a lot more DRA in the system,” said Guy Jarvis, executive vice-president of liquids at Canada’s biggest pipeline company Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO), because it can “provide a bit of a boost” to flow, as well as reduce power bills. – Reuters

Other contents