Flow pattern, pressure drop, and water holdup were measured for oil/water
flow in horizontal, hilly terrain (±0.5 and ±3°), and vertical pipelines at a
temperature of approximately 35 (± 5) °C and a pressure of
approximately 245 kPa using the large-scale multiphase-flow test facility
of Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Natl. Corp. (JOGMEC). Test lines of 4.19-in.
(106.4-mm) inner diameter (ID) and 120-m total length were used, which included
a 40-m horizontal or hilly terrain (near-horizontal) and a 10-m vertical test
section sequentially connected. The flow pattern was determined by visual
observation with video recordings, and a flow-pattern map was made for each
New flow patterns were identified for horizontal and hilly terrain flow,
such as oil flow in a snake-like shape at top of pipe at high rate of water
flow, and water flow at bottom of pipe at high rate of oil flow.
New holdup and pressure-drop data are presented for each flow condition.
Flow rate and inclination angle influence holdup and pressure-drop behaviors.
In vertical flow, when the oil superficial velocity exceeds a certain value,
the pressure drop decreases exponentially as the superficial oil velocity,
Slippage between the phases was analyzed using the measured water holdup
plotted against the input water cut with inlet-oil flow rate as a parameter and
slip velocity vs. measured water holdup. It was found that the slippage changed
significantly with slight changes in inclination angle.
This paper provides new experimental data of flow pattern, water holdup, and
pressure drop measured particularly at horizontal, hilly terrain, and vertical
conditions, with large-diameter pipes. This is indispensable information for
developing reliable prediction models for oil/water two-phase and gas/oil/water
three-phase flow in pipelines.
In the petroleum industry, the joint flow of two immiscible liquids such as
oil and water in pipes commonly occurs at facilities for production and
transportation of oil (i.e., horizontal, inclined, or vertical pipes) in
wellbores and flowlines. In offshore fields, these pipelines can be of
considerable length before reaching the separator facilities. The pressure
required to transport the fluid over long distances is highly influenced by the
pressure drop that can be significantly affected by the mixture properties of
the oil and free water. As the amount of free water increases as the field
matures, a reliable prediction of pressure drop and water holdup is extremely
important for the optimum design of pipeline systems in the industry.
For a two-phase mixture of oil and water flowing together in a pipe,
different internal flow geometries or structures can occur, depending on the
flow rates of the two phases and the geometrical variables of the pipes, as
well as the flow conditions and physical properties of the phases. The
different interfacial structures are called flow patterns. Knowledge of the
flow patterns that could occur under a given set of conditions leads to better
prediction of oil-/water-flow behavior. In addition, accurate interpretation of
experimental data requires reliable prediction of flow pattern, water holdup,
and pressure drop.
The flow characteristics of oil/water mixtures are generally different from
gas/liquid systems. In oil/water flow, the different flow structure is mainly
caused by the small buoyancy effect and lower free energy at the interface,
allowing the formation of shorter interfacial waves and small dispersed-phase
droplet size. Therefore, the results of gas/liquid flow cannot be applied
directly to oil/water flow in most cases.
© 2006. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- Original manuscript received:
29 May 2004
- Revised manuscript received:
1 June 2005
- Manuscript approved:
8 June 2005
- Version of record:
20 February 2006