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DEEPSTAR MULTIPHASE DESIGN GUIDELINE

16.0 16.1

SOLIDS TRANSPORT Introduction


The hydrocarbons produced from a reservoir are sometimes accompanied by small quantities of solids such as sand or fracturing materials (proppants). For example, the

Forties field produces in the region of 5 to 40 pounds of sand for every thousand barrels of oil produced. This sand normally collects in the separators and is either removed by manual intervention during maintenance periods or flushed out using a jetting system. When the South East Forties development was considering using seabed templates

connected to the existing Forties A l p h a platform by two 5 k m pipelines, there was concern that the sand produced might settle out in the pipeline causing pigs to become stuck. The removal of sand may be relatively simple using pigging, provided that only small amounts are deposited. The removal of larger quantities may be difficult and time consuming. To design such systems required knowledge on how the sand is transported and when it w i l l accumulate. This prompted experimental work to be undertaken

(Reference 1). Again in 1990 the Forties Foxtrot development highlighted the need for a better understanding of solids transport in multiphase pipeline systems. The results of experimental work are presented here as a guide to predicting the critical conditions required to prevent solids accumulating in multiphase oil and gas pipelines. This is necessary to prevent pigs from becoming stuck and to prevent possible corrosion under solid deposits in pipelines. Because of the possible stabilization of solid deposits by heavy hydrocarbons, inhibitors, and the potential for accelerated corrosion under deposits, it is recommended to operate multiphase flowlines above the settling velocity to avoid solid deposition and below critical erosion velocities to limit material loss. This work is limited to solids that are heavier than the carrying fluids (i.e., sand and proppants) and may not be applicable to other solid substances formed by chemical reaction such as hydrates, asphaltenes and waxes.

16.2

Solid Particulate Settling Characteristics and Flow Regimes


F l o w regimes for solids transport illustrated in Figure 16.2-1. in liquid/solid and liquid/gas/solid systems are

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16.2.1 Liquid/Solid Systems:

Stationary bed
A t very low liquid flowing velocities a stable solid bed is formed with particles at the bottom and no grains move at all. With an increase in the velocity a stable bed height is reached where the particles at the top are transported further downstream to increase the length of the bed. The upper surface of the bed is flat at very l o w flowrates but becomes wavy as the flowrate increases. A t higher liquid flowrates the height of the stationary bed decreases. A n equilibrium bed is reached when the shear at the upper surface of the bed

transports solids downstream at a rate equal to the solid inflow rate.

Moving dunes
If the liquid flowrate is increased further the bed breaks up and the particles arrange themselves into moving dunes in which the grains on the upper surface of the dune are rolled along from back to front (downstream). The grains then fall into the sheltered

region at the front of the dune. The dune passes over these particles until they are once again on the top surface. The motion of dunes is similar to sand dunes in the desert and to snow drifts. Smaller dunes move faster than larger ones and a given length of

stationary deposit w i l l break up into a number of dunes, each with a characteristic length and velocity.

Scouring
A s the flowrate is increased further the grains roll along the top of the dunes with sufficient momentum that they escape from the sheltered downstream region and are swept away as individual scouring grains. Dunes can still survive in this erosional

environment by replenishment from upstream particles.

Dispersed
A t high liquid flowrates the dunes are dispersed. The solids particles now move in the produced fluid in an erratic pattern. However, a strong concentration gradient is usually observed. 16.2.2 Liquid/Gas/Solid Systems Since the solids are heavier than the carrying fluids they are usually transported along the bottom of the pipe when the concentration is low. For this reason the flow patterns

observed in single phase solid/liquid flow are similar to those seen in stratified liquid/gas/solid flow since the liquid occupies the lower part of the pipe and the flowing

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velocity is steady. However this is not the case when the gas/liquid flow regime is plug or slug flow, as the depth of the film and the velocities vary.

Plug flow
In plug flow, the gas bubbles move along the top of the pipe and have little effect on the solids flow with the full range of regimes already mentioned possible (Section 16.2.1). A s the amount of gas is increased the bubble depth increases and the fluctuating velocities affect the transport similar to that described in slug flow.

Slug flow
In slug flow the transport of solids is complicated as the solid may settle during the passage of the film region and may be transported in the slug body. There can be a large diameter effect as the depth of the film varies and shields the bottom of the pipe from the turbulence of the slug. A bed can be formed i f either the slug or film does not transport the solid. intermittent. In cases where the solid is transported in the slug, only the motion is The frequency between slugs may be a factor i f bed compaction and

stabilization by other products is a possibility. For slug flow in slightly uphill inclined pipes the solid may be transported backwards due to the reverse flow in the film region. Therefore, the overall motion of the sand depends on the efficiency of the forward transport by the slug and the reverse motion caused by the film region.

Low holdup wavy flow


In wet gas pipelines the liquid can be transported as a thin film along the bottom o f the pipe, in which case the solid concentration in the film can be high, and in the extreme may appear as a wet solid bed. In this case little is known about the conditions required to remove the wet solids.

Annular flow
In annular flow the solids may be transported in the liquid film and the gas core. Since the velocities are high in annular flow the usual concern is whether the erosion rate is excessive rather than i f the solids w i l l be transported or not. Several factors can significantly complicate the analysis of the conditions required to prevent the accumulation of solids in multiphase pipelines. These include: Three phase flow effects (gas, oil, and water flow)

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Preferential wetting of the solids by another phase (i.e., water wet solids removal by the oil phase)

B e d stabilization by other products (i.e., wax) Effect of inhibitors or other chemicals

16.2.3 Predicting the L i m i t of a Stationary Deposit The conditions required to prevent the formation of stationary deposits in multiphase pipelines can be estimated using a method developed by X F E in 1993 (Reference 2). The model is based upon a series of equations derived by Thomas (Reference 3) for calculating the friction velocity at the limit of solid transport in a liquid/solid system. The friction velocity is related to the pressure gradient and has been extended by X F E to the case of transporting solids in multiphase systems. This is accomplished by estimating the flowing conditions that give rise to the same pressure gradient that is required to transport solids in the liquid/solid system. The model is hence called the minimum solids transport pressure drop model. The Thomas equations are used to predict the flowing pressure gradient associated with the minimum transport condition in liquid/solid flow where enough energy is passed to a solid particle to enable it to remain in the bulk of the fluid phase and to be transported downstream. Using this pressure gradient, a locus of points can plotted on a two-phase flow pattern map for a constant pressure gradient equal to the pressure gradient at the minimum transport condition. In the X F E model the two phase pressure gradient is predicted using the method of Beggs and B r i l l by guessing values for the gas superficial velocities for a given liquid superficial velocity and calculating the two-phase pressure gradient. Iterations are performed until the velocities produce a pressure gradient equal to that for the minimum transport condition calculated by the Thomas equations for the same liquid flowing velocity. The calculation is repeated for a range of liquid velocities to yield a locus of velocities above which the pressure gradient should be sufficient to transport the solids along the pipeline. 16.2.4 Determination of Pressure Gradient at the M i n i m u m Transport Condition Thomas derived several equations for the minimum transport condition depending on the solids concentration and whether the solids particle diameter is smaller or larger than the laminar sub-layer in the liquid. The first step in the analysis is to determine the solids

particle diameter and the thickness of the laminar sub-layer, however, since the thickness of the laminar sub-layer depends on the Reynolds number, some iteration is required. The initial assumption is that the particle diameter is greater than the thickness of the

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laminar sub-layer and check for this condition after the friction velocity has been calculated. 16.2.5 Particle Diameter It is important to use the correct particle size in the analysis as this affects the calculation of the particle settling velocity and also determines which method is used, depending on whether the particle is smaller or larger than the laminar sub-layer. particles this is no problem. For single sized

However, the solids produced with oil and gas usually

contains a wide range of particle sizes. Figure 16.2-2 shows the particle size distribution for the Forties field sand and shows that the size varies from 45 microns to over 1 mm. For most cases it is recommended to use the mean particle diameter or d50 value (in this case 255 microns) for the determination of the minimum transport criteria. Though it is also recommended to investigate the sensitivity of the results to the particle diameter used.

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16.2.6 Thickness of Laminar Sub-layer The thickness of the laminar sub-layer is related to the pipeline diameter and the Reynolds number for the case of a smooth pipe with a Reynolds number <10 . relationship is as follows: S = 62 D R e
7

The

7 / 8

where:
R e

= 1488 pDV
m

sl

S = thickness of laminar sub-layer in ft D = pipeline diamater in ft Vsl = superficial liquid velocity of interest in ft/s r = density in lb/ft3

m = dynamic viscosity in cP 16.2.7 Particle Settling Velocity The particle settling velocity is the velocity at which particles will settle under gravity in the stagnant fluid. This velocity is primarily determined by the relative magnitude of the gravity and the viscous drag forces acting on the particle. Three settling laws are required to cover the possible range of settling conditions from low Reynolds numbers (i.e. small particle diameter/high viscosity fluid) to settling with high Reynolds numbers (large particle diameter/low viscosity fluid). The three relationships for the settling velocity are as follows: (a) Stoke's law For Re < 2
ws = [1488 g d ( p s- p l) / 18 m ]
2

(b) The intermediate law For 2 < Re < 500


ws = [3.54 g
0 . 7 1

1 1 4

( p s-p l )

0 7 1

] / [p l

2 9

0 4 3

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(c) Newton's law: For Re > 500


ws = 1.74 [gd ( p s- p l) / p l ]
0 5

Where the particle Reynolds number is given by: R e = (1488 d ws p I) / m Since the Reynolds number depends on the particle settling velocity, the correct equation to use is found by calculating the settling velocity and Reynolds number by each equation and comparing the Reynolds number with the applicable limits for each method. For

particles of between 50 and 1000 microns in oil, the appropriate law is likely to be either Stoke's or the intermediate law. The particle settling velocity can be used to estimate the flowing conditions required to transport solids in vertical pipes. For liquid/gas/solid flow it is required to consider in which phase the solid particles are transported. 16.2.8 Friction Velocity at M i n i m u m Transport Condition When the particle diameter is larger than the laminar sub-layer then the friction velocity at deposition for the limiting condition of infinite dilution is correlated by: uo* = [0.204 ws (u/d) ( u / D ) where: ws = particle settling velocity (ft/s) uo* = friction velocity at minimum transport condition for infinite dilution (ft/s) d = solids particle diameter (ft) u = kinematic viscosity (ft /s)
2 - 0 6

{(p s- p l) / p l}

- 0 2 3

0 7 1 4

When the solids concentration is high the friction velocity is modified by the following relationship:
(uc*/u,*) = 1 + 2.8 (ws / u o * )
0 3 3

0 . 5

Where uc* is the friction velocity at the minimum transport condition for a given concentration and F is the solids concentration volume fraction in ft /ft .
3 3

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For most cases o f interest in oil and gas pipelines, the solids concentration is l o w and the first equation is usually sufficient to determine the friction velocity for minimum transport. required. When the solids particle diameter is smaller than the laminar sub-layer the expression for the friction velocity at the minimum transport condition is: u * = [100ws ( u / d )
2 7 1

However, i f the liquid holdup is small, the concentration correction may be

0 2 6 9

Given the friction velocity and the Reynolds number, the thickness of the laminar sub layer can be calculated and the appropriate friction velocity expression checked. 16.2.9 Pressure Gradient at M i n i m u m Transport Condition Following the above procedure determines the friction velocity at the minimum transport condition for the liquid phase. This is easily used to calculate the associated single phase pressure gradient at this condition using the expression:
A Pmtc = (4 p l m ) / [144 gc D]
2

where: gc = 32.174 A two-phase flow pressure drop calculation can now be used to determine the liquid and gas velocity combinations, which result in the same two-phase flow pressure gradient. It is useful to plot the locus of these points on a flow pattern map to indicate the conditions under which solids may or may not be transported. Alternatively comparing the twophase pressure drop with the minimum transport condition for the conditions of interest w i l l indicate whether solids are deposited or not. Figure 16.2-3 shows a comparison of the model predictions with some experimental data.

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Figure 16.2-3: Comparisons of the model with BHRA data

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16.3

References
1. Fairhurst, C P , "Sand Transport in the South East Forties Pipe Line", B H R A , 1 9 8 3 . 2. Smith, M " A Model for Predicting Solids Transport in Near Horizontal Multi-phase O i l and Gas Pipe Lines", X F E report 8/2/1993. 3. Wasp, Kenny and Gandhi, "Solid-Liquid F l o w Slurry Pipe Line Transportation", G u l f Publishing Company, Clausthal, Germany, 1979.

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