The Effect of Flow-Induced Oil-Water Emulsions on Pressure Drop
Sharul Sham Dol
LIM JIT SEN
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In the oil production industry, crude oil is usually produced together with water from the reservoirs, and the immiscible mixtures of oil and water result in emulsions flow in the transporting pipelines. In this research work, a lab-scale flow loop was constructed to investigate the formation of emulsions solely through flow shear, and the effect of emulsions on pressure drop. The flow pressure drop profile shows that as more stable emulsions droplets are formed at higher flow rate, the pressure drop continues to increase until a maximum peak. The maximum peak is also the phase inversion point, where further water addition beyond this point triggers phase inversion of the emulsions system. Higher flow rate also brings the emulsions system to an earlier phase inversion. After the phase inversion, the pressure drop starts to decrease, until it reaches the pressure drop of pure water, due to the presence of unstable emulsions, irregular size distribution of emulsion droplets, non-aggregated emulsions with less dense packing, and water as the continuous phase. The flow pressure drop profile is an important optimization tool in the industry to determine the values of flow rate and water content, in mitigating the adverse pressure drop effect of emulsions.