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Assessment and sensitivity analysis of multiphase flow pipeline models against experimental and field data

P Dhoorjaty, D Erickson, R Kowta, M Mai, P Parthasarathy Wood Group, USA

ABSTRACT

Transient multiphase pipeline simulators are seeing increasing application for live computation of oil and gas production pipeline and process flows. This study considers the performance of Wood Group’s Virtuoso tool and three other commercially available

simulators used widely in the industry, on an extended set of field data from a large gas-

condensate pipeline with three-phase flow. A steep escarpment strongly influences the

dynamics of pipeline pressure, and liquid content and outlet rates; production rates span the region of transition between separated and slug flow regimes. ‘Out-of-the-box’ model predictions of pressure drop can differ from measured values by 20% or more. While model predictions of liquid holdup agree reasonably well both mutually and against experimental data for small-diameter pipes at gentle inclination, predictions vary by 50% or more under field conditions. The extent of scatter in predicted holdup is a large fraction of available slug catcher capacity. Analysis indicates that pressure and liquid volume predictions are sensitive to flow regime determination, specifically via the interfacial friction factor and the holdup at which slugging initiates; pressure prediction error can be reduced by 50% through moderate adjustment of associated modeling parameters. These aggregate assessments of model performance suggest that field- specific model tuning remains necessary to achieve the level of prediction accuracy demanded by online systems used for liquids management, forecasting, and pipeline integrity monitoring.

SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS

d

days

D

diameter

f

friction factor

Fr

Froude number

g

gravitational acceleration

j

superficial velocity

MEG

mono-ethylene glycol

P

pressure

PVT

thermodynamic data

Subscripts

expt

experimental

g

gas

i

interfacial

S0

Virtuoso simulator

S1

commercial simulator 1

S2

commercial simulator 2

S3

commercial simulator 3

t

time

T

temperature

v s

slip velocity

holdup fraction

pipe inclination

l

liquid

mix

mixture

pred

model predicted

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1

INTRODUCTION

Oil and gas production processes commonly involve the simultaneous transport of multiple phases: oil, gas, aqueous, and other phases such as sand and hydrates. Efficient design and safe operation of pipelines and processing facilities requires good knowledge of the thermodynamics and fluid dynamics of multiphase flow. Fluid dynamical phenomena of multiphase flow are complex, involving a variety of flow patterns, but ultimately govern parameters of practical interest, such as the pressure drop, in situ liquid content, and liquid outlet rates and cumulative volumes under transient or even nominally steady-state operating conditions. The problem has, as such, received much attention and over the last three decades sufficient progress has been made that transient multiphase flow calculations are routinely used during pipeline and facilities design. Confidence in the reliability of multiphase pipeline simulation has indeed grown to the point that there is an increasing demand in the industry for advisory systems that perform live simulation of the field (‘online systems’). Common uses of the technology include virtual well metering; pipeline monitoring for hard-to-measure quantities such as liquid holdup and fluid temperature profile; forecasting of cool-down and no-touch times upon shutdown, or of process response to planned operational events; pig campaign planning; hydrate blockage detection; and leak detection and location. While reasonably conservative model prediction may be acceptable, or even desirable, at the design stage, viable application to online systems places more stringent demands on model robustness and accuracy. For example, a 10% over-prediction of the pressure drop can easily cause an online system to miss a significant hydrate blockage event; conversely a 10% under- prediction can prevent the detection of a major leak.

This study seeks an assessment of current multiphase simulation capabilities under flow conditions typical of the field. Multiple commercial simulators are now available. Three such tools are considered in this study, referred to herein as S1, S2, and S3. S1 and S3 are the same product, with S3 being a later version that has presumably benefited from further model refinement. S2 is an independent tool from a different vendor. All three are currently in common use in the flow assurance industry. Additionally, this study considers Wood Group’s own ‘Virtuoso’ model, which is referred to herein as S0. Virtuoso has seen extensive application over the last two decades to online systems covering a wide range of pipeline size, fluid type (gas-condensate and black oil), and operating pressure and temperature (1,2,3). Virtuoso’s installation base makes available a valuable library of field data.

Field data – while ‘uncontrolled’ in comparison to experiment and sometimes requiring careful validation and post-processing – access conditions hard to achieve in the laboratory. For example, pipeline diameters are often larger and liquid loadings are often much smaller than in experiment. Certain aspects of modeling – for instance the flux of liquids transported as droplets in the gas phase – are sensitive to pipe diameter scale up. Whereas experiments usually yield steady-state or time-averaged results, field data allow study of model response to drastic transients (examples in this study show how prediction during rate transients affects subsequent prediction errors over extended periods of time). Long field pipeline lengths, and associated pressure and temperature changes, elevate the importance of fluid density variation and mass transfer, and challenge the mixture velocity invariance approximation made in some theoretical models, such as for slug flow. Field pipelines can also exhibit extended spans of counter-current flow, which can affect model prediction of interfacial wave properties and transition to slug flow. Nevertheless, data from experiments remain (for their

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certainty) the bedrock of model validation and tuning. This study therefore considers data from both experiments and field.

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 provides a brief overview of the Virtuoso model, relevant to subsequent discussion. Section 3 compares model performance against a set of experimental data for relatively small-diameter pipes at gentle inclination. Section 4 considers model performance against field data from a particular large gas-condensate pipeline: specifically, model predictions are presented for pressure, liquid holdup, and liquid cumulative volumes during production rate ramp-ups. Section 5 discusses likely contributors to prediction error; an example of model ‘tuning’ is presented that can reduce the error and it is argued why such tuning may be unavoidable given current levels of modeling knowledge. Section 6 contains concluding remarks.

2 THE VIRTUOSO MODEL

The Virtuoso pipeline model solves one-dimensional equations for mass, momentum, and energy balances. Mass and momentum balances are calculated separately for each phase and the energy balance is combined for all phases. A pipeline network is discretized into branches and sections thereof; geometric parameters (inclination, diameter, section length, wall properties, etc.) can vary section to section. Thermodynamic properties (‘PVT’) are usually obtained from look-up tables, but it is possible to calculate these within the pipeline solver using specialized models when necessary (e.g. for gas density under high-pressure conditions or for liquid viscosity where stable oil-water emulsions occur).

Multiphase flow calculation involves, at least in the context of one-dimensional models, the determination of the applicable flow pattern. For near-horizontal flow (i.e. the angle range applicable to most pipelines but not to wells) Virtuoso distinguishes stratified, stratified-wavy, annular, slug, and fully dispersed flow regimes. Regime prediction is based on well-known theories (4). Stratified, stratified-wavy, and annular flow regimes are treated using full momentum balances for each phase. Dispersed flow regimes are calculated using drift-flux models. The slug regime is treated as a combination of separated and dispersed flow, with the contribution of each being determined through regime and slug properties calculations.

Liquid droplets can enter the gas phase through entrainment. Droplet entrainment and deposition balances set the droplet radial concentration profile (5,6). When both oil and aqueous phases are present, either may be fully or partially dispersed into the other. The degree of dispersion is based on balancing available turbulent energy in the continuous liquid phase with the amount of surface energy required to generate stable droplets of the dispersed liquid phase (7). A number of closure relationships are needed to fully solve the problem for gas-liquid interfacial friction (8), for slug bubble velocity (9), for critical gas-liquid slip at which entrainment commences (5), and so on. Baseline closure relationships are based on these results in the open literature, but these have been further tuned to improve agreement with available experimental and field data.

This broad outline of the modeling approach in Virtuoso is unlikely to be qualitatively different from those of the other simulators considered here. Conversely, the various simulators are likely to differ in the details of the closure relationships and more specifically in the tunings that have been performed. The scatter in prediction results

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seen in the following therefore likely reflects not just the natural scatter in measurement (in repeatability or reproducibility) but also the degree of uncertainty yet remaining in our understanding of multiphase flow. This is particularly true of the disagreement between S1 and S3, which are the same software product.

3 COMPARISON WITH EXPERIMENTAL DATA

This section examines the performance of the various models against some experimental

data.

D = 0.1m to 0.2m, and at inclinations (θ) ranging from -1 degree (down-sloping) to +3 degrees.

These data are all for two-phase flow, for small diameter (D) pipes, ranging from

Figure 1 shows parity plots of liquid holdup (α l ) prediction in various models for a set of experimental data in a D = 0.1m pipe. Here θ ranges from 0 to +3 degrees. Gas

g + j l ),

from 2×10 -3 to 0.07, where j l is the liquid superficial velocity. Regime determination results (not shown) are similar in all the models. Virtuoso (S0), in particular, predicts stratified or annular flow for most of the low holdup data and slug flow for some of the higher holdup data. S0 and S2 over-predict liquid content at low holdups. S1 and S3 show a more centred error distribution, but with larger scatter than S0, as quantified by the standard deviation of the relative holdup error, (α l,pred - α l,expt ) / α l,expt .

superficial velocity (j ) ranges from 0.5 to 2.5 m/s and the no-slip holdup, j l / ( j

g

0.6 (a) S0 0.4 +/- 20% 0.2 Mean of relative error = 0.148 Std dev
0.6
(a)
S0
0.4
+/- 20%
0.2
Mean of relative error = 0.148
Std dev of relative error = 0.212
0
Model holdup
0.6 (b) Simulator S1 0.4 +/- 20% 0.2 Mean of relative error = 0.136 Std
0.6
(b)
Simulator S1
0.4
+/- 20%
0.2
Mean of relative error = 0.136
Std dev of relative error = 0.421
0
Model holdup
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 Expt holdup 0.6 (c) Simulator S2 0.4 +/- 20% 0.2 Mean
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
Expt holdup
0.6
(c)
Simulator S2
0.4
+/- 20%
0.2
Mean of relative error = 0.353
Std dev of relative error = 0.519
0
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
Expt holdup
Model holdup
Model holdup
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 Expt holdup 0.6 (d) Simulator S3 0.4 +/- 20% 0.2 Mean
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
Expt holdup
0.6
(d) Simulator S3
0.4
+/- 20%
0.2
Mean of relative error = 0.084
Std dev of relative error = 0.383
0
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
Expt holdup

Figure 1: Parity plots of α l for two-phase flow in D = 0.1m pipe at θ up to +3 degrees, for various models. Means and standard deviations are shown for relative holdup error. Lines are relative errors of -20%, 0%, and +20%.

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In any model, it can be seen that the scatter is the largest at intermediate holdups. This is

the region of transition from stratified-wavy to slug flow, and modeling uncertainty is large here compared to separated flow (stratified or annular) or slug flow. It can be

shown that the average holdup in fully developed slug flow is independent of the details

of slug unit structure (10), being a function of the superficial velocities, gas bubble

velocity, and gas void fraction in the liquid slug (and independent of slug length, bubble length, and film thickness). Further, other experimental data show that aeration of the slug body is negligible when the Froude number (Fr 2 j mix 2 / gD) is less than 2 (8). Fr’s

here for the high holdup data are less than 1. Consequently, α l in the slug regime can be well-predicted by drift-flux correlations, and the good prediction by models is not too surprising. Holdup prediction in the intermediate range is a more challenging problem,

as models need to capture details of the regime transition process; this is considered further in later discussion (Section 5).

A second aspect of importance to holdup prediction in the transition region from

stratified to slug flow is the high sensitivity to θ at small up-sloping inclinations. Figure 2(a) shows holdup predictions in a D = 0.1m pipe at various θ, with j g = 1 m/s and j l =

0.01 m/s everywhere. All models predict stratified flow at lower angles and slug flow at the highest angle; the S0 model differs slightly in predicting a drop in α l after the slug regime is attained (positive dα l /dθ is recovered with a further increase in angle, not

shown in the figure). The slope dα l /dθ is primarily a function of the friction factor f i at the gas-liquid interface. The ratio of interfacial to gas-wall friction factors, f i / f g , can be

in excess of 15 and depends on the properties of the interfacial waves, beyond a critical

slip velocity at which the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability occurs (11,12). It would not be

surprising if f i

in all models has been tuned to datasets of this type, as has been done in

S0, since there is a fair amount of variation in experimental correlations and no one

correlation has been found to be entirely satisfactory, in our experience, across the range

of data available from experiments and fields. The surface tension is relevant during the

transition to slug flow as well. Experiments are often conducted with kerosene or diesel, whose surface tension and viscosity can be significantly different from light condensates

and black oils seen in the field. It appears that no general theory applicable over a range

of flow conditions and fluid properties is as yet available (11). The scatter in model f i ’s

is further examined in Section 5.

Figure 2(b-d) show histograms of absolute holdup error in the models for a data set (containing over 2,000 points) at D = 0.2m and θ in the range of -1 to +1 degrees. The smallest mean and standard deviation errors are seen in down-sloping flow. This is not too surprising since the flow is largely in the smooth stratified regime, where modeling uncertainty is predominantly due to f i . Larger scatter occurs, for reasons discussed earlier, in up-sloping flow; the quality of predictions for horizontal flow is intermediate to up- and down-sloping results. The S0 model presents a more centred error distribution for horizontal flow, but this is in our experience largely a matter of model tuning. Indeed, from a design perspective it can be desirable to avoid the under-prediction of holdup; this may explain the mean errors in simulators S1, S2, and S3, which primarily target design application.

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0.4 30 (b) Horizontal pipe S0 (a) Holdup vs. angle S1 S2 Mean Std Dev
0.4
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(b) Horizontal pipe
S0
(a) Holdup vs. angle
S1
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Mean
Std Dev
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0.003
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Holdup error: model - data
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(c) Upwards pipe
S0
(d) Downwards pipe
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Mean
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Std Dev
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Holdup error: model - data
Holdup error: model - data
PDF
Holdup
PDF
PDF

Figure 2: θ-dependence of model α l : (a) data and predictions for α l (θ) in D = 0.1m pipe; (b-d) histograms of absolute holdup error in horizontal, up-sloping (up to +1 degree), and down-sloping (down to -1 degree) D = 0.2m pipes, respectively.

4 COMPARISON WITH FIELD DATA

Field data of three-phase flow, from an existing Virtuoso (S0) installation in a large offshore gas-condensate field, are considered next. This online system provides various functions: virtual well metering, pipeline monitoring, multiple specialized forecasts, and monitoring for leaks and restrictions. The pipeline network analysed here is an independent part of larger network and is chosen for its interesting multiphase flow dynamics.

Figure 3(a) is an overview of the pipeline network and relevant onshore facilities. Offshore production from two locations (points ‘A’ and ‘B’) is flowed through two short flow lines and gathered into a long, production export line that runs from point ‘C’ to an onshore plant. The production fluid contains gas, condensate, and water phases; mono- ethylene glycol (MEG) is continually injected at both production points for hydrate mitigation. (All multiphase models studied here treat MEG as part of the aqueous phase.) Pipe diameter of the ‘C to Plant’ pipeline varies, but is everywhere greater than 0.7m. Physical multiphase flow meters at points ‘A’ and ‘B’ provide the flow rate data to drive the models. Pressure and temperature measurements are available at points ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’. Onshore reception facilities include a fairly large slug-catcher, instrumented with pressure, temperature, and level measurements. Liquids from the slug catcher and the knock-out drum are flowed through a heater and a pressure letdown station into a three-phase separator. The most upstream onshore liquid flow rate measurements are at the outlet legs of this separator, which is instrumented with total liquid and oil-water interface level measurements.

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Normalized Gas Std Vol Rate

Normalized Gas Std Vol Rate

Figure 3(b) shows the elevation profiles of the gathering lines and the export pipeline 1 ; gathering lines’ length and elevation change are much smaller than the export line’s. Many of the interesting dynamics of this pipeline are driven by the presence of steep escarpment in the first half of the export pipeline. Pipe angles in this region approach +10 degrees. Slugging occurs at sufficiently high gas rates and manifests as liquid surges at the onshore plant during gas rate ramp up events.

10 (b) Pipeline elevation profiles 8 6 4 2 A to C B to C
10
(b) Pipeline elevation profiles
8
6
4
2
A to C
B to C
0
C to Plant
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
Normalized distance
Figure 3: System overview: (a) pipeline network and facilities showing liquids
handling and relevant measurement points, and (b) pipeline elevation profiles.
Normalized elevation x 10 3

Field data have been extracted over two time periods (sets 1 and 2), with each set comprising about 100 days of continuous operation. Set 1 is during early life of the field when overall production rates are relatively low. Set 2 is during mature production when the production rates are higher. Figure 4 shows the data for gas production rate and point ‘C’ pressure. It can be seen that the rate and pressure are higher in set 2. Both sets feature multiple operational transients. A few of the production ramp-up events (denoted as ‘1.1’ and ‘2.1’—‘2.3’) are identified in the figure and analysed in this study for liquid cumulative volumes.

1.5

1.2

0.9

0.6

0.3

0

2.5 (a) Data set 1 Production rate Pressure 2 event 1.1 1.5 1 0 25
2.5
(a) Data set 1
Production rate
Pressure
2
event 1.1
1.5
1
0
25
50
75
100
Normalized pressure at point C

Time (days)

1.5 2.5 (b) Data set 2 Production rate Pressure event 2.2 1.2 event 2.1 event
1.5
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(b) Data set 2
Production rate
Pressure
event 2.2
1.2
event 2.1
event 2.3
2
0.9
0.6
1.5
0.3
0
1
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25
50
75
100
Time (days)
Normalized pressure at point C

Figure 4: Measured (normalized) gas production rate and point ‘C’ pressure in field data sets analysed here, during (a) early (set 1) and (b) mature (set 2) production. Ramp-up events identified here are analysed for cumulative volumes.

1 Field data are normalized everywhere in this paper. Pipeline lengths and elevations are normalized by the length of the export pipeline. Liquid volumes are normalized by slug catcher capacity. Liquid volume rates are presented in units of normalized volume per hour. Gas production rates are normalized by a nominal design rate, and pressures are normalized by a nominal design pressure at the slug catcher.

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The models configured in S0 and each of S1—S3 are identical with regards to network layout, pipeline geometric and wall properties, ambient temperature, and pipeline elevation profiles. PVT look-up tables for each simulator contain the same thermodynamic data. These data have been tuned to the observed liquid loadings in the field and the known production fluid composition. The boundary conditions for each model are (i) the measured gas, condensate, production water, and MEG injection rates at pipeline network inlet points ‘A’ and ‘B’; (ii) measured temperatures at points ‘A’ and ‘B’; and (iii) the measured slug catcher pressure at the plant. Predicted model pressures, holdups, and outlet flow rates are directly output from each simulator.

Figure 5(a) compares measured and predicted pressures at point ‘C’ for set 1. All models are in excellent agreement with measurement until time t = 20d. This period of data follows immediately after a pigging campaign, so that there is very little liquid in the pipeline at t = 10d. During this initial period liquid builds up at the base of the escarpment (near export line inlet) as the gas rate is insufficient to transport liquids up the slope. Note that the normalized gas rate (Figure 4a) is maintained at a low value of 0.3 during this period. Around t = 20d the production rate is ramped up from 0.3 to 0.7. This results in the gradual transport of liquid up the escarpment. Trends of cumulative liquid volume at the outlet show no change until approximately t = 30d, in all models.

The pressure rise (see Figure 4a) observed during this process has contributions from both frictional and gravitational components. In the range of gas rates from 0.3—0.7, the hydrostatic contribution to total pipeline pressure drop is, correspondingly, in the range of 50-30%, almost of all it obtaining at the escarpment. All models predict a liquid holdup fraction in the range of 10-30%. Model predictions and measurement start to diverge shortly after the gas rate has been ramped up. The first divergence is seen in the t = 20d to t = 30d period. Herein all models under-predict field pressure drop by approximately 20%; see Figure 5(b), which plots the relative error in pipeline pressure drop, i.e. (P C, pred P C, meas ) / (P C, meas P plant, meas ). Examination of model holdup profiles during this period shows that oil-water slippage causes only oil to be transported up the escarpment, while the aqueous phase remains at the base. The interpretation from field data is that the aqueous phase is more easily transported uphill in reality. Aqueous-phase transport up the escarpment commences in the models at t 30d. Predicted pressures then come into better agreement with measurement.

(b) Model pressure error: set 1 S0 S1 S2 S3 20 40 60 80 100
(b) Model pressure error: set 1
S0
S1
S2
S3
20
40
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Time (days)
2 (a) Pred. and meas. press.: set 1 Field S0 S1 S2 S3 1.8 1.6
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(a) Pred. and meas. press.: set 1
Field
S0
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1.6
1.4
1.2
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40
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100
Time (days)
Normalized pressure
Relative pressure error (%)

50

25

0

-25

-50

Figure 5: Set 1 pressure results at point ‘C’: (a) measured and predicted pressures, and (b) relative pressure error for each simulator.

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Subsequently, the models differ in the amount of liquids that are carried over the top of the escarpment and towards the plant. S2 and S3, and to a lesser extent S1, over-predict the pressure during the t = 30d to 40d period. The relatively high production rate of 0.7

is maintained (with a short pause) until slightly after t = 40d. Larger disagreements are

seen in S1S3 pressures during production turn-down and the extended period of low

production rate (t 45d to 70d), with substantial pressure under-prediction (> 20%; see Figure 5b), due to discharging too much liquid over the escarpment. Liquid builds up in the pipeline during this period and all simulators predict zero pipeline outlet liquid rates.

A subsequent ‘clean-up’ operation (t 75d) removes these liquids from the pipeline.

Following this transient, simulator S3 pressures line up with measurement better than before, whereas simulators S1 and S2 continue to under-predict the pressure, this time by around 20% (t > 80d). S0 model pressures agree better with measurement throughout these transients.

Pipeline liquid volume predictions by various models for set 1 are shown in Figure 6(a). Predictions diverge starting from t = 20d, which is when liquids first arrive at plant following the production ramp-up. It is clear that simulators S2 and S3 retain more liquids at and upstream of the escarpment during this initial transient, as their holdup predictions are much larger than S0 or S1. S2 and S3 holdups remain the highest through the simulation, although interestingly the change in their holdups during the clean-up

operation (t 75d) agree relatively well with S1 and S0 (see later, in discussion related

to

Figure 9). The larger holdups in S3 are consistent with the higher pressures predicted

by

that model during the t = 30d to 40d period, when the liquids are on the escarpment.

(S3 holdups are larger during the subsequent low-production period as well, but the liquids are now at the base of the escarpment and S3 pressures are smaller than measured.) The scatter in model predictions for water holdup fraction (volume- integrated α w / α l ), shown in Figure 6(b), is smaller, although S3 predicts the highest water fractions as well; all models, except S2, predict that most of liquids in the pipeline

are aqueous after the initial transient during t = 20d to 30d. S0 results are intermediate to

S1 and S3 for both total holdup and water fraction. 1 (a) Model liquid holdups:
S1 and S3 for both total holdup and water fraction.
1
(a) Model liquid holdups: set 1
S0
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S3
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(b) Aqueous holdup fraction, set 1 S0 S1 S2 S3
(b) Aqueous holdup fraction, set 1
S0
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S3

20

40

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Time (days)

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Figure 6: Set 1 model holdup predictions from S0 and simulators S1—S3:

(a) total liquid holdup, and (b) water holdup fraction.

Figure 7 presents results for pressure prediction and pressure drop errors for set 2. At the higher gas rate, there is tendency in most models (S0, S2 and S3) to over-predict the pressure (Figure 7a); S1 shows a more centred error distribution but the scatter in pressure error is similar to those of the other models (Figure 7b and also Figure 12d, discussed later). There are several production rate transients in this data set (marked in

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Figure 4), and gas rate ramp-ups and turn-downs are associated with sloshing of the liquids up and down the escarpment. Sometimes the gas rate is sufficiently high to evacuate the built-up liquids from the pipeline, as seen from episodes of sharp holdup decrease in Figure 8(a). As in set 1, the predicted pressure at point ‘C’ is dependent upon the amount of liquids retained on the escarpment; if a model evacuates too much liquid the period of pressure under-prediction that follows the transient can be quite prolonged (e.g. Figure 5a).

Figure 8(b) shows results for pipe water volume as a fraction of liquid volume in each model. The variation in total holdup correlates to the amount of excess α w , i.e. a model predicting a higher total holdup also predicts a higher water fraction. S3 is a notable outlier, with the difference between its holdup and that of S1 exceeding 50% of slug catcher capacity, during low rate periods. S0 prediction is again intermediate to these two models, whereas S2 agrees more with S1.

Field (a) Pred. and meas. press.: set 2 2.4 S0 S1 S2 S3 2 1.6
Field
(a) Pred. and meas. press.: set 2
2.4
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S1
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50 (b) Model pressure error, set 2 25 0 -25 S0 S1 S2 S3 -50
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Relative pressure error (%)

0

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Figure 7: Set 2 pressure results at point ‘C’: (a) measured and predicted pressures, and (b) relative pressure error for each simulator.

1.5 (a) Model liquid holdup: set 2 S0 S1 S2 S3 1.2 0.9 0.6 0.3
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(a) Model liquid holdup: set 2
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1 (b) Aqueous holdup fraction, set 2 S0 S1 S2 S3 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2
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Time (days)

Figure 8: Set 2 model holdup predictions from S0 and simulators S1—S3:

(a) total liquid holdup, and (b) water holdup fraction.

An analysis has been conducted of liquid cumulative volumes during specific ramp-up events (marked in Figure 4). The models terminate at the pipeline outlet (slug catcher inlet). Since field processes downstream of pipeline outlet are not simulated, a direct comparison of measured and predicted liquid cumulative volumes is not possible. Available measurements are used instead to infer the pipeline outlet liquid rate occurring in the field, obtained as follows. Starting with the measured aqueous and condensate rate at the outlet of the three-phase separator and separator liquid level measurement, the inlet

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liquid rate to the separator is calculated using the known level to volume relationship of the vessel. This involves the time-derivative of the level, which is computed after fitting the level measurement time-series to a cubic spline. Next, the calculated separator inlet liquid rate is flashed from separator pressure and temperature (P, T) conditions to the (P, T) conditions at slug catcher outlet (note that a heater and pressure letdown station intervene). The composition used in this flash calculation is that of the liquid obtaining at the slug catcher (P, T). Slug catcher P and T are quite constant during field operation, so that compositional error introduced due to lag effects is expected to be small. Finally, the calculated slug catcher outlet liquid volume rate is used in combination with the slug catcher level measurement and the known level to volume relationship to obtain the inferred pipeline outlet liquid rate in the field. Time-integration of this rate over periods of interest yields the cumulative volume delivered into the slug-catcher. There are uncertainties associated with field measurement and the calculation procedure. In addition to these, there are (relatively small but potentially persistent) unmetered flows entering the three-phase separator: from a MEG injection point just upstream of the slug catcher and from secondary process flows that also drain into the separator.

100 (a) Liquids measurements: event 1.1 80 60 SC level Sep. level Cond. rate Wat.
100
(a) Liquids measurements: event 1.1
80
60
SC level
Sep. level
Cond. rate
Wat. rate
40
20
0
72
74
76
78
Level (%)
0.1 4 S0 S1 3.5 S2 S3 0.08 3 2.5 0.06 2 0.04 1.5 1
0.1
4
S0
S1
3.5
S2
S3
0.08
3
2.5
0.06
2
0.04
1.5
1
0.02
0.5
(b)
Model holdups: event 1.1
0
0
72 74
76
78
Normalized volume rate
Normalized total liquid holdup
Time (days) Time (days) 0.3 2 (d) Surge volumes: event 1.1 (c) Model pipeline liquid
Time (days)
Time (days)
0.3
2
(d)
Surge volumes: event 1.1
(c) Model pipeline liquid rates
0.25
1.5
0.2
Field
S0
0.15
S1
1
S2
S3
0.1
0.5
S0
S1
0.05
S2
S3
Field
0
0
72
74
76
78
72 74
76
78
Time (days)
Time (days)
Normalized liq. volume rate
Normalized liq volume

Figure 9: An example of field cumulative volume estimation: (a) separator liquid flow rate and separator and slug catcher level measurements; (b) model holdup transient during the transient; (c) model predictions of outlet liquid flow rate; and (d) predicted and inferred liquid cumulative volumes.

Figure 9 shows a liquid surge event from data set 1, occurring during the gas rate ramp- up around t = 70d. The event has a clear signature in the slug catcher level trends (Figure 9a) and is associated with a sharp holdup decrease in all models (Figure 9b). Liquid outlet rates predicted by all models are zero both before and after the transient (Figure 9c) – thus this event provides a good check of the cumulative volume calculation since liquids accumulated in the pipeline during a prolonged production turndown arrive

© BHR Group 18 MPT 2017

219

at once at the slug catcher. The inferred cumulative volume for the field is plotted

alongside model predictions in Figure 9(d ). The models agree well with each other, as they would be expected to. The discrepancy between liquid volume inference and predictions is in the range of 10-20%, and this number can be viewed as the level of overall uncertainty in the calculation. It is noteworthy that the cumulative volumes of S2 and S3 are close to that of S0 and S1 even though the total holdups in S2 and S3 are larger throughout the transient. Such a holdup difference could be very significant, though, for pig forecasting.

A similar analysis has been carried out for three other transient events in data set 2; these

are associated with production ramp-ups at t 35d, 60d, and 90d (see Figure 4). Table 1 shows the results. Model cumulative volumes are generally within the uncertainty level

of

the inference calculation for S0, S1 and S3, although the persistently high predictions

of

S3 (for event 2.1 in particular) suggests that the holdup in that model is too large.

5

A DISCUSSION OF MODEL SENSITIVITY

The results presented so far show that relatively large disagreements in prediction versus measurement, as well as between predictions of different models, are associated with the transition from stratified to slug flow 2 . The sensitivity of model predictions to details of how related phenomena are modelled is discussed in the following.

Table 1: Predicted and inferred normalized cumulative volumes for selected events.

 

Time

Cumulative liquid volume

Change in holdup

Event

(d)

Field

S0

S1

S2

S3

S0

S1

S2

S3

1.1

72-78

1.6

1.7

1.7

1.9

1.8

1.3

1.3

1.4

1.2

2.1

34-36

1.0

1.1

0.9

0.5

1.4

0.3

0.1

0.1

0.5

2.2

59-65

3.3

2.7

2.5

1.4

3.0

0.7

0.5

0.4

0.8

2.3

91-97

2.3

2.2

2.1

1.4

2.2

0.6

0.5

0.2

0.5

The interfacial friction factor (f i ) determines separated flow gas-liquid slip, and affects the onset and development of interfacial waves. In up-sloping pipes, there is a range of gas velocity wherein a small difference in f i can cause a relatively large change in the predicted holdup (and thence the pressure drop via the hydrostatic contribution). Figure 10( a ) plots a calculation for j l (α l ) in two-phase flow, using the correlations for f i in (8), for various j g . The curves can be viewed as the predicted outlet liquid rate in a section of the pipe. At steady state this rate should match the inlet j l (when there is no mass transfer); the figure shows an inlet j l = 0.01 m/s for illustration. At the highest j g of 5.5 m/s, there is only one low-holdup solution, and likewise at the lowest j g of 5.0 m/s. At the intermediate j g , however, three solutions appear. When holdup is small, the gravitational force on the film can be overcome by interfacial friction at low j g . The

2 The field data comparisons of the previous section suggest that models also differ in the extent to which the aqueous phase is mobilized, but a consideration of this problem is outside the scope of this paper.

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influence of gravity increases with increasing holdup and film velocity drops, leading to the intermediate holdup solution. With progressively higher holdups, the film falls backwards (j l is negative), until the constriction of gas passage in the pipe increases gas velocity, increasing the interfacial friction and, finally, causing the film to flow forwards again – which leads to the high holdup solution. The intermediate holdup solution is unstable, since dj l / dα l < 0, but the two extreme holdup solutions are realizable. Thus there is, with varying j g , a bifurcation effect 3 . Note that these are steady-state solutions. In transient flow, it is likely that the predicted holdup would be some average of the two roots. Nevertheless, this predicted holdup would remain sensitive to j g , since the bifurcation is unavoidable.

Models for f i in commercial simulators are proprietary details, but it is possible to infer the degree of variation across simulators by examining the steady-state holdup curves in multiple-root regions of the parameter space. Figure 10(b) shows steady state holdup curves from various simulators. All display a j g -region of sharp transition, but there is considerable variation in where this occurs. The higher the ‘critical’ j g , the smaller is the modelled friction factor. It can be estimated, for example, that the friction factor variation between S2 and S3 is more than 25%. There is experimental evidence that the interfacial friction factor increases with the onset of large, ‘roll’ waves, and can be correlated to wave height. Models are likely to have been tuned to distinct sets of experimental or field data. Further, the liquid-wall friction, as well, is affected by the presence of interfacial waves, and this friction factor could also be based on varying correlations.

0.04 0.5 (a) S0 (b) S1 S2 0.4 j = 5.5 S3 g 0.02 0.3
0.04
0.5
(a)
S0
(b)
S1
S2
0.4
j
= 5.5
S3
g
0.02
0.3
0
0.2
-0.02
0.1
j g
= 5.0
j
g = 5.25
0
-0.04
2
3
4
5
6
7
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
Holdup fraction
Superficial gas velocity
Superficial liquid velocity
Holdup fraction

Figure 10: (a) j l in stratified flow as a function of α l for a D = 0.7m, θ = +5 degree pipe, at various j g ; the horizontal line represents an inlet j l = 0.01 m/s and intersections with this line represent steady-state solutions. (b) Steady-state holdup curve in various models in the region of back-flowing liquid film.

3 The condition of multiple roots has been proposed as a predictor of slug flow, with the highest stable holdup corresponding to the slug region and the lowest stable holdup to the film region – but the phenomenon can occur in smooth stratified flow as well. Slugging can require wave growth, which is dependent on parameters (e.g. surface tension) that do not affect smooth stratified flow. One proposed model (13) examines roots of a drift-flux j l (α l , j g ) j l,in function, but the validity of a drift-flux model in predicting a stratified flow root is questionable.

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221

A second aspect of modeling likely to be governed by tuning parameters is the threshold

for the onset of slug flow. The applicability of drift-flux models in fully developed slug flow is well accepted, and supported by experimental data. Figure 11(a) plots experimental data against two calculations of j l – one from a stratified flow model incorporating a wave-dependent interfacial friction factor and the second from a drift flux model, with the slip velocity v s (1 - α l ) 2 where the proportionality constant is related to the gas-bubble velocity. It is evident that data at low holdup are well-predicted by the stratified flow calculation and at high holdup by the drift-flux calculation. Regime transition occurs over a narrow range of holdup and is likely to be a complex, intrinsically unsteady phenomenon. Models are likely to determine the transition threshold based on tunings. Figure 11(b) shows transition curves (for a particular set of parameters) in the various simulators, in terms of a function of j l that is 0 in stratified flow and 1 in fully developed slug flow. Also shown are two criteria for transition to slugging: the necessary onset of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves (4) and a critical holdup threshold criterion for slug stability (11). The models select a slug transition threshold somewhat larger than theory, and this selection is likely to be the result of tunings against specific data.

1.2 (a) 0.9 0.6 0.3 Stratified flow model Drift-flux model Data 0 Superficial liq velocity
1.2
(a)
0.9
0.6
0.3
Stratified flow model
Drift-flux model
Data
0
Superficial liq velocity
(j l,model - j l,strat
) / (j l,df
- j l,strat
)
(b) 1 K-H waves Data S0 0.5 S1 Slug stability S2 S3 0
(b)
1
K-H waves
Data
S0
0.5
S1
Slug stability
S2
S3
0

0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

 

Holdup

Holdup

Figure 11: Transition to slug flow: (a) Data and superficial liquid velocity curves calculated using representative stratified flow and drift-flux models. (b) Data and slug transition models as a function of holdup in a pipe at +1 degrees.

It is therefore of interest to determine overall model sensitivity to these parameters.

Figure 12 shows how S0 predictions change when the interfacial friction factor and slug transition criteria are adjusted by 25% to favour transition to slug flow. S0-predicted holdups, which were intermediate originally to S1 and S3 predictions are brought into near-coincidence with S1 (Figure 12a; a short time-window is shown for clarity of plotting but is representative). S0’s over-prediction of measured pressure is reduced by 50% for set 2, and overall prediction of set 1 pressure deteriorates only marginally. This exercise is not meant as a demonstration of fully tuning a model, but merely as an illustration of model sensitivity to these aspects of flow physics.

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1.2 2.5 S0, baseline (b) Set 2: Model and field pressures (a) Set 2, model
1.2
2.5
S0, baseline
(b) Set 2: Model and field pressures
(a) Set 2, model holdups
S1
S0, adjusted
0.9
2.25
Measured
S0, baseline
0.6
2
S1
S0, adjusted
0.3
1.75
0
1.5
40
50
60
70
80
70
72
74
76
Time (days)
Time (days)
25
25
S0, baseline
S0, baseline
(c) Set 1: pressure error distribution.
(d) Set 2: pressure error distribution.
S1
S1
S2
S2
20
S3
20
MEAN
STD DEV
S3
S0, adjusted
S0, baseline
0.108
0.067
S0, adjusted
S1
0.009
0.076
MEAN
STD DEV
S2
0.067
0.073
S0, baseline
-0.077
0.066
15
15
S3
0.074
0.101
S1
-0.150
0.360
S0, adjusted
0.053
0.056
S2
-0.169
0.162
S3
-0.063
0.427
10
S0, adjusted
-0.084
0.077
10
5
5
0
0
-0.4
-0.2
0
0.2
0.4
-0.4
-0.2
0
0.2
0.4
P model - P field
P model - P data
PDF
Normalized total liquid holdup
PDF
Normalized pressure

Figure 12: ‘Adjusted’ S0 model results: (a) α l for set 2; (b) point ‘C’ pressure; (c) pressure error distribution in set 1; and (d) pressure error distribution in set 2.

6 CONCLUDING REMARKS

The comparison of various multiphase simulators against experiment and field data considered here shows a scatter in the results in the range of 10% or more. While this level of accuracy may be considered adequate for qualifying a model, the error has real consequences for the viability of an online system. A 10% error in pressure prediction, for instance, can translate to an absolute error of 10 bar or more, which is too large for the viability of an online leak-detection or restriction-detection system. The scatter in model holdup predictions is a large fraction of field liquids handling capacity.

It is reasonable to assume the tunings applied internally in different commercial simulators have been derived from distinct data sets. It is not our argument here that any one simulator is superior to others in general. Rather, the point is that there are yet intrinsic limitations to the accuracy of available correlations such as for interfacial friction, slug transition mechanisms, and liquid-wall and liquid-liquid friction factors that yield the levels of prediction scatter observed herein. Indeed, variation between S1 and S3 (which are different versions of the same tool) can be viewed as indicative of the levels of prediction uncertainty. Further, modeling uncertainties in the field are compounded by PVT uncertainties, such as liquid-gas and liquid-liquid surface tension, that can have significant impact on wave properties, for example. Finally, field prediction is often particularly sensitive to slug transition. The ‘take-off’ point in the overall holdup curve α l (j g ) of a pipeline (where dα l /dj g becomes large with decreasing j g ) is closely related to the appearance of film backflow; pipelines often operate in this region, since larger gas velocities cause too much frictional pressure drop and smaller gas velocities lead to excessive holdup.

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For these reasons it seems to remain necessary to tune flow assurance models to field- specific data. Wood Group’s experience with field systems shows that viable online simulation tools are indeed achievable with comprehensive validation and analysis of field data followed by judicious tuning. Flow assurance engineers working with design tools are well advised to consider the sensitivity of results to modeling parameters that are intrinsically uncertain. It is recommended that simulation tools expose such parameters affecting internal model calculations to facilitate these sensitivity analyses.

REFERENCES

(1)

Parthasarathy, P. & Mai, M. (2016) ‘Bridging the gap between the design world

(2)

and online, real-time, dynamic simulation world’, Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, OTC-27232-MS. Mai, M. C. & Erickson, D. D. (2012) ‘Twenty years of practical observations using

(3)

online real-time dynamic simulation in the upstream O&G industry’, SPE Advanced Technology Workshop, Bangkok. Parthasarathy, P. V., Haldipur, P. L. & Erickson, D. D. (2007) ‘Real-time pipeline

(4)

monitoring’, in Pipeline and Gas Technology, May 2007 issue, pp. 22-25. Shoham, O. (2006) ‘Mechanistic modeling of gas-liquid two-phase flow in pipes’,

(5)

SPE. Pan, L. & Hanratty, T.J. (2002) ‘Correlation of entrainment for annular flow in

(6)

horizontal pipes’ Int. J. Mult. Flow 28, pp. 385-408. Skartlien, R. et al. (2011) ‘Simultaneous entrainment of oil and water droplets in

(7)

high Reynolds number gas turbulence in horizontal pipe flow’ Int. J. Mult. Flow 37, pp. 1282-1293. Brauner, N. (2001) ‘The prediction of dispersed flow boundaries in liquid-liquid

(8)

and gas-liquid systems’ Int. J. Mult. Flow 27, pp. 885-910. Tzotzi, C. & Andritsos, N. (2013) ‘Interfacial shear stress in wavy stratified gas-

(9)

liquid flow in horizontal pipes’ Int. J. Mult. Flow 54, pp. 43-54. Bendiksen, K. H. (1984) ‘An experimental investigation of the motion of long

(10)

bubbles in inclined tubes’ Int. J. Mult. Flow 10, pp. 467-483. Taitel, Y. & Barnea, D. (1990) ‘Two-phase slug flow’ Adv. Heat Trans. 20, pp. 83-

132.

(11) Hurlburt, E.T. & Hanratty, T.J. (2002) ‘Prediction of the transition from stratified

to slug and plug flow for long pipes’ Int. J. Mult. Flow 28, pp. 707-729. (12) Fabre, J. (2002) ‘Modelling of stratified gas-liquid flow’ in Modelling and control of two-phase flow phenomena, Int. Cent. Mech. Sci., Udine Italy. (13) Danielson, T. J. (2011) ‘A simple model for hydrodynamic slug flow’ Offshore Tech. Conf., Houston TX (21255-PP).

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