ABSTRACT

Heavy oil accounts for more than half the word's total oil reserves. However, heavy oil as extracted from the reservoir has an extremely high viscosity and the transportation of these fluids in a pipeline requires the use of technologies to lower the viscosities of this oil. Among these technologies are heating or dilution of the heavy oil and sometimes a mixture of both of these methods. The majority of oil storage terminals contain pipes that are installed above ground and in northern countries are prone to experiencing cold temperatures during winter months. In part of the terminal where the fluid stays stagnant in the pipes (such as relief piping and manifold pipes) the cold weather can impact the viscosity of the fluid, even after it has been diluted. When the pumping system has to move fluid that has been stagnant in the pipe and has become colder, the pressure required to achieve this is very high. The transient surge pressures created in these cases can become extreme to the point of exceeding the maximum operating pressures of the pipe. When performing transient simulations, it is important to consider the fluid with higher viscosities that have been kept in the pipes and that will require higher pressures to pump them down the line, so that pressure surges can be more accurately calculated and mitigated.

This paper will present comparisons of how the transient pressures change between cases of heavy oils at different temperatures and viscosities. It will show that if heavy oil is kept stagnant in a pipe that is subject to cold temperatures, the pressures required to push this fluid down the pipe increases as the viscosity becomes higher. IN particular, it will present the case where the relief piping has been installed above ground and when the fluid needs to be displaced, the surge pressures can become significantly higher than expected.

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