The use of drag reduction agents (DRA) can be a decisive factor in determining the technical and economic feasibility of new pipelines projects, meeting the demands not foreseen and seasonality accommodation without large investments in infrastructure. Knowing the friction reduction mechanism and its impact on the operating procedure of existing products is essential in order to have the guarantee of the benefit for your application.

Most of the works published report field experiences obtained from its application, seeking to determine the influence that internal and external factors have on the polymer. Knowing these effects is essential for better application performance. However, few authors have sought to identify the best way to operate an existing pipeline with DRA, with either an increase in capacity or an energy reduction.

Operationally, the use of drag reducing agents may decrease the currently used arrangement of pumps, or even the complete shutdown of a pumping station. In this context, the use of drag reducers may be a suitable solution for decreasing power consumption in fluid transport pipelines of petroleum and derivatives.

This paper presents a case study of the application of drag reducing agents in a Brazilian high-energy pipeline. It features five intermediate pumping stations and three withdrawal points along its nearly one thousand kilometer stretch. With the aid of a computer simulation software, it is proposed a methodology to evaluate the best application condition, minimizing pump costs, polymer volume and meeting the scheduled demand of the month.

This methodology first sought to validate the computational model of the pipeline. It was made a historical survey and inserted into the simulator, in order to reproduce faithfully a monthly operation. A sensitivity analysis is performed to determine which pump stations are most relevant. It was established an initial concentration of polymer to be injected in the sending refinery, aiming the reduction of arrangement or total shutdown of the subsequent station and keeping volume delivered on all points. The other bases remain working according to the operation of the month. This procedure is then repeated for the other bases, resulting in a combined and continuous injection, minimizing the operating costs.

An economic evaluation is finally performed to quantify the benefits of this application. A reduction in energy consumption of 49% was noticed, and considering the costs with DRA, the monthly movement had a 35% drop in the total costs of operation.

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