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Line Sizing

Reference: API 14E

Line sizing calculation determines the required spec for piping. The value of operating
pressure and the diameter of pipe that required to make the fluid flows will mutually
affected. Overall, line sizing calculation will be divided into one phase and two phase
line calculation. One phase line will represented gas line or liquid line. It means, there
will be no other phase except gas or liquid in one line. Two phase line will represented
gas phase and liquid phase in one line at once. Liquid phase in these two phase line
could be oil or water or oil and water at once. Generally, in all calculation of line sizing,
there will be three factors that concerned to calculate the diameter of pipe. There are,
obviously, the flow rate of the fluid flows. Second, the pressure drop that occur in
system, and the last is engineering judgments by engineer in duty. Fluid flow rate
velocity and pressure drop will influence the calculated diameter.
Based on API 14E, the maximum flow rate expected during the life of facility should be
considered rather than its initial flow rate to accommodate deviation that might be
happen in piping. These overdesign margin usually called surge factor, and it can be at
least 20-30% from flow rate initial value. Unless the surge factor is already precisely
determined in official guidance or pulse pressure measurement, there is a table that
shows the surge factor for some typical conditions of fluids.

Liquid phase line will be first to discuss. Liquid line should be primary sized on the basis
of flow velocity. For line transporting liquid, velocity should not be exceed 15 ft/s to
avoid liquid flashing when the fluid passes through the control valves. The minimum
velocity is available for liquid line. The minimum velocity for liquid line is 3 ft/s. If the
velocity has value under 3 ft/s, solid deposit might be appear in piping and would cause
scaling issues. At these range, the pressure drop of fluid is usually small.
Flow velocity of liquid will determines in following equation:

V1 is represented velocity of liquid in feet/second, Q1 is represented liquid flow rate in

barrels/day and d1 is represented diameter of pipe in inches. This equation is derived
from its original equation which is represented correlation between velocity, flow rate
and diameter. The original equation is supposed to be:


. (1)

A is represented area of flowing liquid. Area can be determine as A= r 2, where r is

represented radius of piping area of flowing fluid. If r determines in inches, and derives
become A = D2/4, equation (1) become:


0.25 D2

This equation will calculates the actual flow rate of flowing liquid, and the amount of
calculated velocity from this equation will be compared with velocity requirement for
liquid. This equation represented by converting previous equation to feet/second.
The next consideration for liquid line sizing is pressure drop. Pressure drop will
determines in psi per 100 feet. Taking the pressure drop in psi per 100 feet, obviously,
has a reason. We assumed that every 100 feet the circumstances in piping is no longer
the same. To anticipate the uncertainty of the circumstance in piping, we assume that
pressure drop can be typical only every 100 feet. We can simply conclude that it just
comparison of pressure drop in 100 feet.
Fanning equation will be determine the pressure drop that occurred in liquid lines.

P is represented pressure drop in psi per 100 feet, Q1 is represented total flow rate of
liquid in barrels/day, S1 is represented liquid specific gravity and f is moody friction
factor. Specific gravity and moody friction factor will be specifically discussed next.
Specific gravity is represented the comparison between density of liquid divided by
water density. Water density is 1 gram/liter (1 kg/cm 3).
Moody friction factor is a function of Reynolds number and relative roughness.
Normally, moody friction factor is available from graph that requires the data of
Reynolds and relative roughness of the pipe. Reynolds is dimensionless number which is
a function of density of fluid, velocity of fluid, diameter of the pipe and viscosity.
Velocity of fluid is calculates from previous equation involving diameter of the pipe and
fluids flow rate. Viscosity is depends on the liquid mixture, neither the liquid is only

water or oil or water and oil at once. Mix velocity can be determined on these following

m =

xa xb
+ ++
a b

m is mixture viscosity, xa is mass fraction a in liquid, a is viscosity a in liquid and so

on until all the component included in this equation. After mixture velocity available,
Reynolds number can be calculated as well.
In the same way to get the value of moody friction factor, relative roughness of the pipe
should be considered. Relative roughness determines over diameter of the pipe.
Therefore, relative roughness of the pipe is determines as

D . The value of is

obtained according to condition of the pipe. We should consider the condition of the
pipe, of course. Neither the pipe is new or existing, it absolutely has different . The
value of can be seen in following table. This table is based on Pertamina PHE ONWJ
line sizing study.

The other value of can be fluctuate, it depends on the reference that we use.
After the value of Reynolds and relative roughness of the pipe are available, we can
determined the moody friction factor by graph.

Since it is not capable to always run over the graph, we are facilitated with the equation
that determines the moody friction factor by the function of Reynolds and relative
roughness of the pipe. The equation is shown below (from GPSA 12th ed., section 17)

As we determines the value of moody friction factor, pressure drop can be calculated as
Other thing is, relative roughness of the pipe only affect the pressure drop when the
flow is turbulent (re > 4000). If the flow on the pipe is laminar, the friction between
fluid and pipe wall should not being considered. If there is no friction, relative
roughness of the pipe is not considered either. It means, the pressure drop only
depends on conditions of the fluid. Poiseuilles law determines the pressure drop for
laminar flow.

As we can see from the equation above, the pressure drop in laminar flow only depends
on flowing liquid properties, specifically as viscosity, distance, Velocity, and pipe
Gas phase line will be discussed next.
The two most important matters in gas phase line sizing is about pressure drop and
velocity of the flowing gas.
Lets begin with discuss about velocity of the gas line. There is a limitation for gas
velocity, which is 60 ft/s. It influence the noise problem. For gas with velocity above 60
ft/s, there will be a noise problem since the fluid is gas. Gas has hovering particle and
the atomic bond is not as strong as liquid. Thus, with high velocity of gas, the particle
will vibrate and conduct a noise issues. But this value is not absolute. Higher velocities
are acceptable when pipe routing and other necessity.
Gas velocity in piping can be calculated simply by this equation.

Vg is the velocity of gas in feet/second, Z is compressibility factor of the gas, Qg is the

flow rate of the gas in MMSCFD, T is the operating temperature in oR, di is inside
diameter of the pipe in inches and P is operating pressure in psia.
Other limitation for gas velocity is sonic velocity and noise velocity. As we discuss
above, moving gas cause noise problem. The acceptable noise for gas line is normally
85 dB, measured from one meter from the pipe surface.
Noise velocity can be described from following equation.

Vmax is represented maximal velocity of gas to avoid noise in ft/s, is density of liquid
in lb/cuft, and later Vmax will be compared with calculated Vg. From this justification,
we can conclude neither the gas velocity is acceptable or not.
Sonic velocity is determined as speed of sound. The velocity of gas is not allowed to
being too high, and the justification is from sonic velocity. At least, the gas velocity is
beneath one third from the value of calculated sonic velocity. Sonic velocity can be
determined by these following equation.

Sonic velocity is a function of k (specific heat ratio, cp/cv), R is gas constant (the value
is based on unit that used), T (the operating temperature in K) and M (molecular
The next one matter in gas line is pressure drop. There are many ways to approximate
pressure drop in gas line. The general pressure drop equation represented here by
these following equation.

Where p1 is upstream pressure in psia, p2 is downstream pressure in psia, S is specific

gravity of gas at standard condition, f is moody friction factor (as we already discussed
about in liquid phase line calculation), T1 is flowing temperature in oR, d is inside
diameter of the pipe in inches, Qg is gas flow rate in MMSCFD, L is distance of the
flowing gas will be transferred to in feet.
This equation is simply can determined as:

This equation is valid with assumption. The maximal pressure change from inlet
pressure is 10%. However, if the pressure change above 10% from inlet pressure, this
equation might be invalid.
There are several equation for calculate the pressure drop in gas line.

The differential between polar liquid and non- polar liquid.

Pipe grades

Corrosion consideration

mixture viscosity

ln m wi . ln i
m = viscosity mixture, cp
wi = weight percentage

i = component viscosity, cp

Reynolds number