Applying CFD in the Analysis of Heavy-Oil Transportation in Curved Pipes Using Core-Flow Technique

S Conceição, A De Lima, T Andrade, S Neto, V Oliveira, K Angelim, L Rocha


Multiphase flow of oil, gas and water occurs in the petroleum industry from the reservoir to the processing units. The occurrence of heavy oils in the world is increasing significantly and points to the need for greater investment in the reservoirs exploitation and, consequently, to the development of new technologies for the production and transport of this oil. Therefore, it is interesting improve techniques to ensure an increase in energy efficiency in the transport of this oil. The core-flow technique is one of the most advantageous methods of lifting and transporting of oil. The core-flow technique does not alter the oil viscosity, but change the flow pattern and thus, reducing friction during heavy oil transportation. This flow pattern is characterized by a fine water pellicle that is formed close to the inner wall of the pipe, aging as lubricant of the oil flowing in the core of the pipe. In this sense, the objective of this paper is to study the isothermal flow of heavy oil in curved pipelines, employing the core-flow technique. A three-dimensional, transient and isothermal mathematical model that considers the mixture and k-e  turbulence models to address the gas-water-heavy oil three-phase flow in the pipe was applied for analysis. Simulations with different flow patterns of the involved phases (oil-gas-water) have been done, in order to optimize the transport of heavy oils. Results of pressure and volumetric fraction distribution of the involved phases are presented and analyzed. It was verified that the oil core lubricated by a fine water layer flowing in the pipe considerably decreases pressure drop.

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