FUNDAMENTALS OF LIQUID MEASUREMENT – PART 1
Class Number 2160Ralph S. PapeshBP Pipelines (North America) Inc.28100 Torch ParkwayWarrenville, IL 60555Accurate liquid measurement is an important aspectof the petroleum industry. With regard to commerce,it is the basis of custody transfer between producers,pipelines, refineries, petrochemical plants, utilityplants, products marketing and the transportationindustry. As it pertains to process control, it isneeded to maintain specific flow rates, pressuresand levels to ensure precise quality andenvironmental control.In either custody transfer or process control, dailysmall percentage volumetric measurement errorscan accumulate to large volumetric errors over along period of time. These errors can have anadverse impact on the profitability of a company.In order to help minimize liquid petroleummeasurement inaccuracies, a fundamentalunderstanding of the physical laws that affectmeasurement are necessary. Therefore, whileknowledge of measurement equipment principlesand applications are necessary to design or maintain an accurate system, it is equally importantto understand the hydrocarbon physical propertiesthat affect volume, oil quality, the method of measurement, and consequently, the price of oil.These physical properties include: Temperature,Density (or relative density, or API gravity),Compressibility, Sediment and water (S&W), Vapor Pressure (RVP or TVP), and Viscosity.
Temperature measurement normally plays arelatively significant role in volumetric measurement,compared to the other physical properties, sincepetroleum liquids expand readily when heated andcontract when cooled. The amount it expands or contracts not only depends on the temperature, butalso on the density of the liquid. For example, crudeoil does not expand or contract the same amount asgasoline, given the same deviation in temperature,because crude oil has a higher density. So when abarrel of oil is bought or sold by either meter or tankmeasurement, the temperature and density mustalso be measured simultaneously.The petroleum industry has adopted standards of volume to correct for the effects of thermalexpansion/contraction. The standard volume in theUnited States is the barrel, which contains 42 USgallons measured at the standard temperature of 60
F. In Europe, and many other parts of the world,the standard volume is the liter, which is measuredat the standard temperature of 15
C. Tables of Volume Correction Factors (VCF) for correctingvolumes, measured at any temperature, to theequivalent volume at standard temperature areavailable from the American Petroleum Institute(API) and the International Standards Organization(ISO).Tank temperature measurements are obtained witha mercury thermometer, a new environmentally safeglass thermometer, or with an electronicthermometer. While a mid-level temperature readingis necessary on small tanks, readings are normallytaken at the upper, middle, and lower levels on largetanks to determine the average temperature.Custody transfer metering system temperatures aremeasured dynamically with in-line thermometersand/or electronic transmitters. These devicesshould be located immediately downstream of themeter tube to obtain a temperature representative of flow measurement conditions. Batch temperaturemeasurements should be flow weight averaged.
Density or GravityDensity
is defined as the mass of fluid per unitvolume at a given temperature. Examples aregrams per cubic centimeter (gm/cc), pounds per cubic foot (lb./cu. ft.) and kilograms per cubic meter (kg/cu. m.).
is the ratio of the density of a liquidat a given temperature to the density of pure water at a standard temperature, which is either 60
F or 15
C. The temperature of the liquid and thetemperature of water are shown as 70
F, for example, and must be included with the densitystatement.Density and relative density are most commonlyused for light liquid hydrocarbons (e.g., LPG, NGL,etc.), petrochemicals and, sometimes, refined