Transporting heavy crude oil by pipeline requires special facilities because the viscosity is so high at normal field temperatures. In some cases the oil is heated with special heaters along the way, while in others the oil may be diluted by as much as 30 percent with kerosene. Commercial drag reducers have not been found to be effective because the single-phase flow is usually laminar to only slightly turbulent. In this work we show the effective viscosity of heavy oils in pipeline flow can be reduced by a factor of 3–4. It is hypothesized that a liquid crystal microstructure can be formed so that thick oil layers slip on thin water layers in the stress field generated by pipeline flow. Experiments in a 1 1/4-in. flow loop with Kern River crude oil and a Venezuela crude oil BCF13 are consistent with this hypothesis. The effect has also been demonstrated under field conditions in a 6-in. flow loop using a mixture of North Sea and Mississippi heavy crude oils containing 10 percent brine.

1.
Achia
B. U.
, and
Thompson
D. W.
,
1977
, “
Structure of the Turbulent Boundary in Drag-Reducing Pipe Flow
,”
Journal of Fluid Mechanics
, Vol.
81
, pp.
439
464
.
2.
Arney
M. S.
,
Ribeiro
G. S.
,
Bai
R.
, and
Joseph
D. D.
,
1996
, “
Cement-Lined Pipes For Water Lubricated Transport of Heavy Oil
,”
International Journal of Multiphase Flow
, Vol.
22
, pp.
207
221
.
3.
Bellocq, A.-M., and Roux, D., 1986, “Phase Diagram and Critical Behavior of a Quaternary Microemulsion System,” Microemulsions: Structure and Dynamics, S. Friberg and P. Bothorel, eds., CRC Press, Boca Raton, LA, pp. 33–77.
4.
Burger, E. D., Munk, W. R., and Wahl, H. A., 1980, “Flow Increase in the Trans Alaska Pipeline Using a Polymeric Drag Reducing Agent,” Society of Petroleum Engineers 55th Annual Fall Technical Conference, Dallas, TX, September 21–24, SPE Paper 9419.
5.
Herb, C. A., Chen, L. B., and Sun, W. M., 1994, “Correlation of Viscoelastic Properties With Critical Packing Parameter for Mixed Surfactant Solutions in the L1 Region,” Structure and Flow in Surfactant Solutions, ACS Symposium Series 578, pp. 153–166.
6.
Joseph, D. D., and Renardy, Y. Y., 1991, Fundamentals of Two-Fluid Dynamics, Part II: Lubricated Transport, Drops and Misible Liquids, Springer-Verlag, New York, NY.
7.
Roux, D., Nallet, F., and Diat, O., 1994, “Relation Between Rheology and Microstructure of Lytropic Lamellar Phases,” Structure and Flow in Surfactant Solutions, ACS Symposium Series 578, pp. 300–305.
8.
Storm
D. A.
,
Barresi
R. J.
, and
DeCanio
S. J.
,
1991
, “
Colloidal Nature of Vacuum Residue
,”
FUEL
, Vol.
70
, pp.
779
782
.
9.
Storm
D. A.
, and
Sheu
E. Y.
,
1993
a, “
Rheological Studies of Ratawi Vacuum Residue at 366 K
,”
FUEL
, Vol.
72
, pp.
233
237
.
10.
Storm
D. A.
,
Barresi
R. J.
, and
Sheu
E. Y.
,
1995
, “
Rheological Study of Ratawi Vacuum Residue in the 298–673 K Temperature Range
,”
Energy & Fuels
, Vol.
9
, pp.
168
176
.
11.
Storm
D. A.
,
Barresi
R. J.
, and
Sheu
E. Y.
,
1996
, “
Development of Solid Properties and Thermochemistry of Asphalt Binders in the 25–65°C Temperature Range
,”
Energy & Fuels
, Vol.
10
, pp.
855
864
.
12.
Storm
D. A.
,
Sheu
E. Y.
, and
DeTar
M. M.
,
1993
b, “
Macrostructure of Asphaltenes in Vacuum Residue by Small Angle X-Ray Scattering
,”
FUEL
, Vol.
72
, pp.
977
981
.
13.
Storm
D. A.
,
Barresi
R. J.
, and
Sheu
E. Y.
,
1995
, “
Evidence for the Micellization of Asphaltenic Molecules in Vacuum Residue
,”
210th National Meeting of American Chemical Society
, Chicago, IL, August 20–25, Division of Petroleum Chemistry Preprints, Vol.
40
, pp.
776
779
.
14.
Strassner, J. E., 1968, “Effect of pH on Interfacial Films and Stability of Crude Oil-Water Emulsions,” Journal of Petroleum Technology, Mar., pp. 303–312.
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.