The three-phase water-assisted flow of heavy crude oil with free gas (air) in a vertical glass pipe, at near atmospheric pressure and temperature conditions, is investigated, for possible applications to the articial lift of heavy oil. Water is injected so as to avoid oil-wall contact and reduce friction. The oil phase was a w/o emulsion with a viscosity of 5,040 mPa.s and a density of 971 kg/m3. For each combination of oil-water-gas flow rates, the flow pattern was determined using a high speed camera and the pressure gradient was measured with a differential pressure transducer. The results are presented in the form of flow maps based on superficial velocities and total pressure gradient plots, allowing comparisons with well known correlations. The main conclusion indicates the great viability of the water-assisted flow technique. Significant amounts of heavy oil have been discovered in offshore Brazil.

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