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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/F017448/1
Principal Investigator: Matar, Professor OK
Other Investigators:
Spelt, Dr PDM Lawrence, Professor CJ Hewitt, Professor GF
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Advantica Technologies Ltd BP Chevron
ConocoPhilips ENI ExxonMobil
FEESA Ltd Institute of Oil Fuels and Lubricants Norsk Hydro
PDSVA PETROBRAS Research and Development Cente Scanpower Petroleum Technology AS
Shell Siemens SINTEF Energi AS
Statoil Total E&P UK PLC
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2008 Ends: 31 May 2011 Value (£): 235,485
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Multiphase Flow Oil & Gas Extraction
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
EP/F016565/1 EP/F016050/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Sep 2007 Engineering Science (Flow) Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This proposal addresses the vital issue of prediction of multiphase flows in large diameter risers in off-shore hydrocarbon recovery. The riser is essentially a vertical or near-vertical pipe connecting the sea-bed collection pipe network (the flowlines) to a sea-surface installation, typically a floating receiving and processing vessel. In the early years of oil and gas exploration and production, the oil and gas companies selected the largest and most accessible off-shore fields to develop first. In these systems, the risers were relatively short and had modest diameters. However, as these fields are being depleted, the oil and gas companies are being forced to look further afield for replacement reserves capable of being developed economically. This, then, has led to increased interest in deeper waters, and harsher and more remote environments, most notably in the Gulf of Mexico, the Brazilian Campos basin, West of Shetlands and the Angolan Aptian basin. Many of the major deepwater developments are located in water depths exceeding 1km (e.g. Elf's Girassol at 1300m or Petrobras' Roncador at 1500-2000m). To transport the produced fluids in such systems with the available pressure driving forces has led naturally to the specification of risers of much greater diameter (typically 300 mm) than those used previously (typically 75 mm). Investments in such systems have been, and will continue to be, huge (around $35 billion up to 2005) with the riser systems accounting for around 20% of the costs. Prediction of the performance of the multiphase flow riser systems is of vital importance but, very unfortunately, available methods for such prediction are of doubtful validity. The main reason for this is that the available data and methods have been based on measurements on smaller diameter tubes (typically 25-75 mm) and on the interpretation of these measurements in terms of the flow patterns occurring in such tubes. These flow patterns are typically bubble, slug, churn and annular flows. The limited amount of data available shows that the flow patterns in larger tubes may be quite different and that, within a given flow pattern, the detailed phenomena may also be different. For instance, there are reasons to believe that slug flow of the normal type (with liquid slugs separated by Taylor bubbles of classical shape) may not exist in large pipes. Methods to predict such flows with confidence will be improved significantly by means of an integrated programme of work at three universities (Nottingham, Cranfield and Imperial College) which will involve both larger scale investigations as well as investigations into specific phenomena at a more intimate scale together with modelling studies. Large facilities at Nottingham and Cranfield will be used for experiments in which the phase distribution about the pipe cross section will be measured using novel instrumentation which can handle a range of fluids. The Cranfield tests will be at a very large diameter (250 mm) but will be confined to vertical, air/water studies with special emphasis on large bubbles behaviour. In contrast those at Nottingham will employ a slightly smaller pipe diameter (125 mm) but will use newly built facilities in which a variety of fluids can be employed to vary physical properties systematically and can utilise vertical and slightly inclined test pipes. The work to be carried out at Imperial College will be experimental and numerical. The former will focus on examining the spatio-temporal evolution of waves in churn and annular flows in annulus geometries; the latter will use interface-tracking methods to perform simulations of bubbles in two-phase flow and will also focus on the development of a computer code capable of predicting reliably the flow behaviour in large diameter pipes. This code will use as input the information distilled from the other work-packages regarding the various flow regimes along the pipe.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk