Understanding the behavior of two-phase flow is a key parameter for a proper oil/gas-production-system design. Mechanistic models have been developed and tuned to model the entire production system. Most existing two-phase-flow models are derived from experimental data with low-viscosity liquids (μL < 20 mPa·s). However, behavior of two-phase flow is expected to be significantly different for high-viscosity oil. The effect of high liquid viscosity on two-phase flow is still not well-studied in vertical pipes.

In this study, the effect of high oil viscosity on upward two-phase gas/oil-flow behavior in vertical pipes was studied experimentally and theoretically. A total of 149 air/high-viscosity-oil and 21 air/water experiments were conducted in a vertical pipe with an inner diameter (ID) of 50.8 mm. Six different oil viscosities—586, 401, 287, 213, 162, and 127 mPa·s—were considered. The superficial-liquid and -gas velocities were varied from 0.05 to 0.7 m/s and from 0.5 to 5 m/s, respectively.

Flow pattern, pressure gradient, and average liquid holdup were measured and analyzed in this study. The experimental results were used to evaluate different flow-pattern maps, mechanistic models, and correlations for two-phase flow. Significant discrepancies between experimental and predicted results for pressure gradient were observed.

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