The New Pathways of Multiphase Flow Modeling

Photo courtesy of James Brill.
The University of Tulsa’s Fluid Flow Project was founded by James Brill in 1973 and is regarded as one of the leading facilities for the study of multiphase flow in pipelines.

In the realm of enabling technologies, multiphase flow modeling has proven to be one of the most important to the oil and gas industry. Without it, nearly all subsea wells would be too costly or dangerous to develop.  While working to fine-tune its offshore capabilities, developers are also busy expanding the technology’s application areas to include shale field development, hydrate remediation, and heavy oil extraction.

In the 1960s, when the industry began studying how to model multiphase flow, which is the science of how liquid and gas interact inside wellbores and pipelines, little was known about the complex physics involved. Back then, an engineer’s ability to predict flow behavior was strictly limited to what could be observed at the wellhead.

Over the years, the industry invented devices that could accurately calculate flow rates, velocities, and volume fractions, along with downhole temperatures and pressures. Armed with these tools, engineers and scientists had the measurements they needed to marry computational science and fluid dynamics. More than anything else, this advancement is what has allowed offshore operators to extend their reach beyond the shallow-water fields and into those thousands of feet deep.

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The New Pathways of Multiphase Flow Modeling

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

01 February 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 2

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