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Experimental Study of the Necessary Pressure to Start-Up the Flow of a Gelled Waxy Crude Oil

[+] Author Affiliations
Charlie Van Der Geest, Vanessa C. Bizotto Guersoni, Antonio C. Bannwart

University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil

Luiz Antônio Simões Salomão Junior

Repsol Sinopec, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Paper No. OMAE2017-62438, pp. V008T11A050; 9 pages
  • ASME 2017 36th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
  • Volume 8: Polar and Arctic Sciences and Technology; Petroleum Technology
  • Trondheim, Norway, June 25–30, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5776-2
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


The current study concerns a recurrent problem in the oil industry when dealing with waxy crude oils in offshore fields. When a waxy crude stays static in the seabed for any reason, it cools down below the wax appearance temperature (WAT). Hence, crystals of wax appear in the fluid. These wax crystals form a crystalline structure. The strength of a crystalline structure rises with time. What also rises with time is the minimum pressure necessary to restart the flow.

When designing subsea structures, engineers assume that flow restart will occur when the pressure is sufficient to overcome a threshold stress. This threshold stress is related to what the literature calls apparent yield stress. Considerable evidence suggests, however, that a simplified momentum equation considering only this rheological parameter and the necessary pressure will provide an overestimated value. What this study aims to accomplish is a better understanding of the phenomenon involved in this process.

To do so, we build an experimental apparatus that allows us to represent the condition of the temperature close to bottom of the sea, and a pressurization system that allows us to precisely control the inlet pressure. The apparatus is composed of a one-inch pipeline that is submerged in a water bath (5°C) and a nitrogen system with controlled valves to pressurize the inlet of the pipeline.

Much discussion in the literature concerns the restart of a flow of gelled waxy crude. Many studies have suggested that the most important phenomena involved are the following aspects of the oil: its rheological behaviour, its compressibility, and its shrinkage. The current study contributes to the literature by demonstrating that the behaviour of a gelled waxy crude oil having a high percentage of wax that builds up a strong crystalline structure is impacted by rheological behaviour, time, and aging time.

To be able to provide the industry a reliable prediction of the gelled waxy restart pressure, it is necessary for engineers to carry out a great deal of experimentation and improvement in the models. In this paper, we compare the experimental data with the prediction of a model consisting of a weakly compressible fluid with an elasto-viscoplastic thixotropic behaviour. The comparison advances our knowledge in the phenomena involved in restart of gelled crudes and, in fact, shows the model capable of approaching the results expected by the industry.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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