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Petroleum Open Learning

Oil Pumping and Metering

(Part of the Petroleum Processing Technology Series)

Section 1 - Centrifugal Pumps : Terms and Concepts..................................3
Liquids, Gases and Fluids........................................................................................... 3
Mass, Force and Weight............................................................................................. 3
Density and Specific Gravity.......................................................................................3
Centrifugal Force........................................................................................................ 5
Kinetic Energy and Pressure Energy..........................................................................7
Head Pressure............................................................................................................ 8
Pressure.................................................................................................................... 10
Net Positive Suction Head (NPH)..............................................................................11
Cavitation.................................................................................................................. 12
Flow v Differential Pressure......................................................................................13

Section 2 Construction and Operation of Centrifugal Pumps.................16

Impeller Speed.......................................................................................................... 19
Bearings.................................................................................................................... 20
Seals......................................................................................................................... 21
Pump Configurations................................................................................................23
Centrifugal Pump Performance Curves.....................................................................24
A Centrifugal Pump Arrangement..............................................................................27

Section 3 Oil Metering and Sampling........................................................31

Turbine Meters.......................................................................................................... 35
Metering Systems..................................................................................................... 36

Sampling Systems.........................................................................................41
Section 4 Pig Launching Facilities............................................................42
Pig Launchers........................................................................................................... 44

Section 5- A Typical Oil Pumping and Metering System.........................48

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Petroleum Open Learning

Training Targets
When you have completed this unit on Oil Pumping and Metering, you will be able to

Explain some of lie technical terms and concepts which lie behind the operation of a centrifugal pump

List component pails of a centrifugal pump

Explain the operating principle; of a centrifugal pump

Describe the construction and operation of turbine and differential pressure Meters

Explain the function and operation of a typical meter run

Describe the procedure for proving a meter

List the essential element of an ail sampling system

Detail the main features of a pig launching oysters, and its method of operation

Describe a typical layout for the ail handling (or oil pumping and metering) section of a production facility

Tick the box when you have met each target

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Petroleum Open Learning

Oil Pumping and Metering

Section 1 - Centrifugal Pumps : Terms and Concepts
In this first section, we will look briefly at a number of concepts which
relate to the operation of centrifugal pumps. I will also explain some of
the terms often used when we are discussing how these concepts can
be applied in practice.
Throughout this unit we will be concentrating on centrifugal pumps
because these are the most common ones used in oil pumping and
metering services.

Density and Specific Gravity

The density of a substance is defined as the mass per unit volume

of that substance. For the same material, density can be
expressed in a variety of units. For example, the density of water is

1 gram per cubic centimeter-1 gm/cm3

62.4 pounds per cubic foot,- 62.4 Ibs/ft3

Specific gravity (s.g.) compares the mass of a certain volume of

a material with the mass of an equal volume of a reference
substance. In other words

Liquids, Gases and Fluids

Both liquids and gases are called fluids because each has the
ability to flow.
In this unit we will use the term fluid when describing something
which can happen to a gas or a liquid. When we need to make a
distinction, I will use the specific term liquid or gas.

Mass, Force and Weight

The mass of an object is a measure of the quantity of matter

present. This object may have various forces acting on it, the most
important of which is likely to be the force of gravity. You can easily
Demonstrate that there is a force acting on the abject. Hold it out
and release it - the force of gravity will pull it towards the earth.
Weight is a measure of this force acting on the object. Therefore, a
one pound mass will have a force of one pound weight acting' on
it, due to gravity.

The two terms "mass" and "weight" cause a lot of confusion. Very
often they are used as if they mean the same thing. In many
cases, however, this is not all that important and I think that the
brief explanation given above should be sufficient to guide you
through the remainder of this unit without any undue problems.

Specific gravity (s.g.) =

Mass of a certain volume of material

Mass of an equal volume of
reference substance

For solids and liquids, the reference material used is usually water.
For gases, the reference is often to air.

Test Yourself 1
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Petroleum Open Learning

A gallon of water has a mass of 10 pounds.

A gallon of gasoline has a mass of 6.s pounds.
A gallon of salt water brine has a mass of I f pounds.
What are the specific gravities of gasoline and brine ?
You will find the answers to Test Yourself 1 on Page 65,

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Page 5 of 78

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Centrifugal Force
Have a look at Figure 2.

It shows a spinning disk. If we let a drop of water fall onto the face of
the disk, near to the centre spot, it will follow the type of path shown.
This is because the drop is affected by two forces during its travel:
centrifugal force, which tends to throw the droplet outwards, causing
it to speed up as it approaches the edge of the disk
friction, which will cause the disk to attempt to drag the droplet round
with it as it rotates.
The relative size of these two forces will determine the angle at which
the droplet leaves the disk edge.
This angle is important, as you will see when we come to the section
on Construction and Operation of Centrifugal Pumps (Section 2). The
design features of the pump encourage a flow path for the liquid being
pumped, which is very similar to the droplet trajectory in Figure 2.
This ensures that the pump imparts the maximum amount of energy to
the liquid. In this case, energy of motion, or kinetic energy is

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Kinetic Energy
We have seen that kinetic energy is energy of motion, or movement.
The amount of kinetic energy possessed by any moving object
depends upon .

Its mass (weight)

its velocity ("speed")

In mathematical terms, kinetic energy (KE) can be calculated by using

a formula
KE = '/Z mass x velocity'
If the mass is expressed in kilograms and the velocity in metres per
second, the kinetic energy will be in joules.
To confirm your understanding of this relationship try the following Test

Test Yourself 2
A small car has a mass of 1 000 kilograms and is
travelling at 180 kilometres per hour,
A large truck has a mass of 20 000 kilograms, and is
travelling at 90 kilometres per hour,
Which one has the greater kinetic energy ?
You will find the answer to Test Yourself 2 on Page 65.

Kinetic Energy and Pressure Energy

Figure 3 illustrates the flow of a fluid across a restriction, and how the fluid velocity and pressure
vary during this process.

point A: fluid is flowing along the pipe at a

steady speed and .almost constant pressure.
You will remember that the kinetic energy of
this fluid can be calculated by the equation:
KE = mass x velocity2
The velocity of the fluid at point A is constant,
In addition, the mass of fluid passing each
point in the pipeline per unit of time (mass
flow rate) is also constant. This means that
the kinetic energy content of the fluid at that
point is also constant.
point B : the fluid starts to enter the
restriction. The mass flow rate remains
constant but, because the pipe diameter is
smaller, the fluid velocity must increase.

Figure 3 : Flow Across a Restriction

Let us go into a little more detail on these pressure and velocity changes by considering six
separate paints in the process:

Looping again a. the kinetic energy equation,

you will see that the kinetic energy of the fluid
will start to increase at this point as the fluid
speeds up.

Head Pressure
The term head pressure or head is often used
in the oil and gas industry, especially when
referring to pumps. It is the pressure
developed by a head, or column height, of
In the paragraph entitled "Pressure", we saw
that the head pressure applied by one foot
depth of water will be 0.433 psi. For 10 feet of
water the head pressure would be 4.33 psi; for
100 feet, 43.3 psi, and so on.
Now let us combine what we know about
specific gravity and head pressure. Try the
following Test Yourself to combine these two
factors together

that kinetic energy can be converted into

pressure energy.

Test Yourself 3
The specific gravity of gasoline is 0.85,
and that for a particular salt water is 1.1.
What will be the head pressure
developed by 10 feet of the gasoline,
and 16 feet of this brine ?

The answers to this Test Yourself are on

Page 65.

We have already shown that centrifugal force

can impart kinetic energy to a substance as a
result of a spinning action. We have also seen

Centrifugal pumps are dynamic pumps which,

primarily, impart kinetic energy to the fluid being
pumped. They do not create pressure directly.
Pressure results from the liquid slowing down,
and the kinetic energy converting to pressure
The pressure developed will depend on the
density of fluid being pumped.
A centrifugal pump, working at a fixed flowrate,
will generate the same height of head, but will
generate a lower head pressure, when pumping
gasoline, than when water is being pumped,
because water is heavier than gasoline.
The different categories of head pressure
referred to in pumping operations are shown in
Figure 5 on the next page.

The suction head represents the head

pressure present at the pump suction.
The discharge head represents the head
pressure delivered by the pump.
The total head (which is the difference
between suction and discharge heads)
represents the additional pressure
imparted to the liquid by the pump

Now let me introduce you to another

principle of science - Conservation of
This tells us that the total energy content
of a system will always remain constant.
If the kinetic energy content of our system
increases then, to compensate for this,
some other form of energy possessed by
the system must decrease. This other form
of energy is pressure energy. Figure 3
shows that, as the velocity (kinetic energy)
increases, the pressure (pressure energy)
point C : this is a new steady state. The
fluid has a higher velocity and a lower
pressure but both of them are steady as the
fluid passes across the restriction.
points D and E reverse the changes which
occurred at points A and B.
It is worth noting that, across the process
overall, a small reduction of pressure has
occurred. Due to turbulence in the system,
some pressure energy has been converted
into heat energy. You will no doubt
appreciate that, under conditions of high
flow rates, high turbulence, or extended
restrictions (say, a long pipeline run),
pressure losses will be greater.
We will look into the effects of pressure loss
and flow 'a little later on in this section.

Pressure expresses the relationship
between force (or weight) and area, as
follows :
pressure =

pounds force (or weight)


This cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds.

In other words, due to the effects of gravity,
it is applying a downward force of 62.4
pounds, spread over its base.
The pressure on the base of the cube is
62.4 Ibs/sq.ft.

Like density, it can be measured in a variety

of units. One of the most common is pounds
weight per square inch, or psi.
Picture a foot cube of water

However, we have just seen that pressure is

usually expressed in Ibs/, or psi.
As you will see from Figure 4, the base of
this water cube has an area of one square
foot, or
12 inches x 12 inches = 144 square inches
So, on each square inch of the base a
downward force of 62.4Ibs/144 is applied.
The pressure on the base can, therefore,
also be expressed as

Lbs/ =

0.433 lbs/ (or)

0.433 psi

Net Positive Suction Head (NPH)

I would like you to think about two common
situations in which you have seen bubbles
coming out of a liquid.
1. If you heat up a per? 0 1 water, two things

long before the water boils, bubbles are

seen rising through the liquid as
dissolved air comes out of solution
when the temperature begin; to increase
at the boiling point, the liquid bubbles
vigorously as the water is rapidly
converted into steam

Water at sea level boils at 100C (212F). I am

sure you will have heard, however, that the
boiling point of water (or any other liquid) as
you climb from sea level, so that it can be
difficult to cook an egg properly on top of a high
mountain. This is because atmospheric
pressure falls the higher up we get.
2. If you open a bottle lemonade, bubbles are
seen rising through the liquid as dissolved
gas comes out of solution when the
pressure is released (reduced).
If these effects are observed in water and
lemonade, it is roil to assume that they will
happen in other liquids as well. So let us
now visualise how these effects can
influence the operation of a pump.

We already know that fluids can only flow from

areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.
Suppose that the liquid being pumped enters
an area of low pressure. Then:

If the liquid was near its boiling point, the

pressure drop may cause the liquid to boil
and release gas or vapour
if the liquid was near to the pressure at
which dissolved gases are released, the
pressure drop may cause these gases to
come out of solution

In either case we can predict that, if the

pressure is increased again, the released
gases will go back into the liquid, either
because boiling stops or the released gases redissolve.
When a centrifugal pump is running, a low
pressure area is created at the suction. This
encourages liquid further upstream to flow into
the pump suction.
The accompanying drop in pressure may cause
gas or vapour to be released for either of the
reasons described above. It is important that
we prevent this happening, for reasons that I
will explain a little later under Cavitation.
We must therefore always have sufficient
pressure at the pump suction to prevent gas or
vapour release for whatever reason. The

minimum pressure necessary to do this is

called the net positive suction head (NPSH).
A further pressure reading which is relevant to
the suction end of the pump is called the static
suction line pressure. As the name implies,
this is the measured pressure at the pump
suction when pumping has stopped.
We now have three pressure values which
relate to the pump suction:

the pressure at which gas or vapour is

the static suction line pressure
the NPSH

To be safe, most pumps will be operated just

above their NPSH. An adequate safety
margin for most applications would be 3 feet,
or 10%, head of water pressure above the
NPSH specified by the manufacturer
(whichever is the larger).

? Test Yourself 4
As a check on whether you have
understood what I have been saying
about pressures at the suction end of the
pump, list these three pressure values:

the pressure at which gas or

vapour is released
the static suction line pressure
the NPSH

In order of decreasing pressure, and

see if you can explain the reasons for
your answers.
You will find the correct answers in Check
yourself 4 on page 66.

A pump manufacturer will specify the NPSH

and maximum operating temperature
required for each pump to handle a given
liquid effectively. The NPSH should be
maintained over the entire range of the

In general, the industry standard is to work in

terms of "head of water". This is because
everyone knows the density of water and
pumps can easily be tested to make sure
that they produce the level of head specified.

We have discussed at some length the
importance of NPSH and other factors in
preventing the release of gas or vapour
bubbles in the suction of the pump. We will
now look at why it is so important to prevent
If gas is released at this point in the system,
it will give rise to an effect known as
The formation of bubbles is, in itself, quite
harmless. However, as the liquid containing
these gas bubbles, or cavities, passes
through the pump, the pressure will rise. Now
we already know that, if gas is released from
a liquid for the reasons I have described, an
increase in pressure will drive this gas back
into the liquid again.
As these tiny cavities created in the liquid
collapse, the liquid tends to rush in from all

angles to fill the cavity. The cavity is said to

This inrushing liquid can transmit very large
forces. When the bubbles are near a metallic
surface, these forces are applied directly to
the solid surface. When a pump is
cavitating, this process is being repeated
many thousands of times each second and
the effect results in noise, vibration and
eventual erosion of metal from the surfaces.
In very severe cases, for example where the
pump is handling liquids carrying small solid
particles, the impeller can be eroded in a
relatively short space of time.
An equally important factor is that severe
cavitation can result in a failure of the pump
to deliver flow at the expected head.
When pumping oil, the drop in head and
efficiency is not quite so severe as with water
because the liquid is composed of mixtures
of different hydrocarbon compounds. The
bubbles which appear will consist of lighter
hydrocarbons such as methane or ethane.
These can be more easily reabsorbed as the
pressure is increased. When pumping water
the bubbles are nearly always caused by the
water boiling at a reduced pressure. In this
situation the bubbles collapse violently and
each implosion is of a high intensity.

Flow v Differential Pressure

Take another look at Figure 3. You will recall that it illustrate the conversion
of pressure energy to kinetic energy, and the reverse, as a fluid passes
through a restriction. Remember also that, because )f turbulence, some
pressure energy is converted to seat energy. This conversion is responsible
for the pressure loss shown in Figure 3.

at low flow rates the turbulence caused by these restrictions may well
be small, therefore minimising the pressure loss

at high flow rates the turbulence could be very high, as will be the
pressure loss

Any pipeline will contain a whole series of restrictions. These may be

bends, changes in diameter, obstructions and rough internal surfaces, or

We will now take a look at the relationship between flow and differential
pressure between two points in, say, a pipeline.

You will probably realise, therefore, that:

Have a look at Figure 6.

Figure 6 : Flow v Differential Pressure

This shows the relationship between flow and

differential pressure, both expressed as a
percentage of the maximum possible under
those particular circumstances.

We can see, for example, that 50% of the

maximum flow is equivalent to 25% of the
maximum differential pressure.
Now let us suppose that, in our pipeline, we
can generate up to 50 psi of pressure at the
inlet and deliver up to 50 gallons of liquid per
minute. Let us also suppose that, at the outlet,
the liquid discharges into a pond at 0 psi.
We therefore have a differential pressure of 050 psi and a flow rate of 0-50 gals/min. Let us
look at the conditions under different flows and

if we regulate the inlet flow to 5 gals/min

(10% of maximum) we could expect very
little turbulence. From Figure 6 we can
estimate that the differential pressure will
be 1 % of maximum, or 0.5 psi, at this flow
if the flow is increased to 10 gals/min (20%
of maximum), both turbulence and the
pressure drop will increase. At a 20% flow
rate, the differential pressure will rise to
4% of maximum, or 2.0 psi.

(You will have noticed that, when the flow rate

doubled, the differential pressure increased by
a factor of 4).

let us now increase the flow rate to 20

gals/min (40% of maximum). The
differential pressure rises to 16% of
maximum, or 8.0 psi. Again, as the flow
rate doubles, from 10 to 20 gals/min, the
differential pressure quadruples, from 2 to
8 psi.

This relationship between flow and differential

pressure can be expressed as a mathematical

P x 10

= flow rate as a % of maximum
= differential pressure as a % of

DP means the square root of DP)

That ends our brief look at some of the key

factors which affect the design and operation
of centrifugal pumps. Before we go onto the
next Section, however, try the following Test

? Test Yourself 5
In the example we have just used, if th6
differential pressure fell from 70}4 to
40%. of maximum, what would be the
change in flow rate, expressed in gallons
per minute ?
The answers can be found in Check
yourself 5 on page 66.

In this section, we have looked at some of the scientific terms and

concepts which help us to understand the design and operation of
centrifugal pumps.
You will remember, for example, that both liquids and gases are called
fluids because they have the ability to flow. We saw how fluids flow
from high energy areas to low energy areas.

This led us to a description of kinetic energy, and how kinetic energy

and pressure energy can be interchanged. We introduced the
concept of conservation of energy.
Net positive suction head (NPSH) was fully described, and we saw
how important it was in relation to preventing cavitation.
We -looked at differential pressure and flow. The relationship was
expressed as a graph, and also as a mathematical equation.

We examined the relationship between mass, force and weight, and I

tried to clear up some of the confusion which exists in the common use
of these words.
Density and specific gravity were explained.
I illustrated centrifugal force by asking you to visualise the movement
of a water drop on a spinning disk.

Yon: are now ready to take a look at the construction and operation of
a centrifugal pump, and see how the terms and concepts covered in
Section 1 can b e applied to the design and performance of this type of

Petroleum Open Learning

Oil Pumping and Metering

Section 2 Construction and Operation of Centrifugal Pumps
The centrifugal pump is the commonest form of pump in use today. It is
relatively cheap, easy to maintain and is to be found almost everywhere
when large flows are required.
We will first take a look at the basic configuration of a centrifugal pump
and then at the component parts, to see what they do and how they work.
The type of pump illustrated in Figure 7 is one of the simplest. It consists
a casing, which contains and supports the rest of the pump
components. Access to the inside of the pump is via a vertical split at
the back of the casing (not shown)

a suction flange, which directs the liquid entering the pump casing into
the impeller
an impeller, which imparts kinetic energy to the liquid
a pump shaft, connected through a coupling to a motor which drives
the shaft and the attached impeller(s)
a bearing housing, which supports the shaft
a shaft seal, which prevents liquid escaping from the casing along the

Figure 7 : A Typical Centrifugal Pump

a discharge flange, which directs the liquid away from the pump

Page 18 of 78

Figure 8 shows a cross section through a single impeller pump, illustrating

three more key items of equipment:

The wear rings, which act as seals between the high pressure
discharge side and the low pressure suction side of the impeller

The wear rings are so called because they wear in preference to the
impeller. They are `sleeved' on to the impeller, and may be replaced
when worn

The balance holes, which allow the packing to operate at suction

pressure rather than discharge pressure. This reduces the differential
pressure across the packer and impeller, and therefore reduces the
"thrust" forces

The packing, which prevents liquid escaping from the casing

We will now examine some of these components in more detail.

Figure 8 : Cross Section Through a Single Impeller Pump

We have already seen that a spinning disk can
impart kinetic energy to a drop of water on its
surface. A centrifugal pump, which is a dynamic
pump, does a similar job on the liquid it is
pumping. The pump then converts this kinetic
energy into pressure energy before the liquid
leaves the outlet.

open impeller is a little more efficient and a little

more expensive than the open impeller.
The car pump has to be reasonably efficient to
provide engine cooling by circulating water
around the engine and through the radiator.
But, every bit of energy used in the water pump
means that there is less available to propel the
car itself. The semi-open impeller is therefore a
compromise between efficiency and cost.

The elements of the pump which impart kinetic

energy to the liquid are called impellers. We will
now look at the three basic kinds of impeller
and see how they differ from each other.

In the oil industry, the closed impeller is the

one most often used. This is shown at the
bottom of Figure 9. It is more efficient than
other types of impeller, but is also considerably
more expensive.

All impellers are fitted with curved vanes which

spread out radially from the centre. The
impellers are attached to the pump shaft and
rotate with it.

This is because special techniques are needed

to weld the vanes to the inside of the shroud
which covers the impeller.

Figure 9 shows the three most common types

of impeller.
Your washing machine at home probably has a
pump with an open impeller similar to the one
shown at the top of the diagram. Open
impellers are cheap to make but they are
The one on your washing machine will be there
to empty the machine. Washing machine
pumps, however, have to cope with debris buttons, fluff, coins and the like. An open
impeller is ideal. It will handle most foreign
objects and, if it is broken, it is cheap to

You should notice, in particular, the curve on

each impeller vane, and compare this shape
with the shape of the droplet trajectory in Figure
2. They are very similar.
Vanes are designed in this way to impart the
maximum amount of kinetic energy to the liquid
being pumped, and to ensure that this liquid
leaves the impeller rim at a particular angle.

Figure 9 : Types of Impellers

The water pump on your car will probably be

fitted with a semi-open impeller similar to the
one shown in the centre of Figure 9. The semi-

This angle will be matched by the shape of the

volute, or angle of the diffusers, depending on
the pump design. (I will talk about volute and
diffuser casings shortly).

Impeller Speed
The type of impeller selected will depend on the planned speed of
rotation, and the type and size of pump.
Pump discharge flange

As a general rule

low pressure, high capacity pumps will have large diameter impellers
with a low rotating speed

high pressure, high capacity pumps will have small diameter

impellers with a high rotating speed

Pump Casings
We already know that the velocity of the liquid increases as it passes
across the impeller. We also know that, as the velocity decreases, the
pressure will increase. Figure 10 shows the two main types of casing
which allow this to happen within the pump.
The upper diagram shows a volute casing. In this type of pump, the
liquid leaves the tip of the impeller, and is thrown into a channel with an
increasing area of cross-section. Here the liquid slows down and kinetic
energy . is converted into pressure energy.
The volute design ensures that it is aligned with the trajectory of the liquid
leaving the impeller. This ensures efficient energy transfer and
The liquid is then guided towards the pump discharge flange.
The volute type of pump is the most common type in use.
The lower diagram shows a diffuser casing. In this type of pump, as the
liquid leaves the tip of the impeller it moves through a set of angled vanes
known as diffusers. Again, these are lined up with the direction of the
pumped liquid as it leaves the impeller. The diffusers then guide the liquid
into the outer section of casing where its velocity decreases and pressure
increases before flowing to the discharge flange.
discharge flange


Figure 10 : Volute and Diffuser Casings

Figure 11 is an illustration of a simple bearing
arrangement. The shaft is supported by two
radial ball bearing races, which allow it to
rotate with minimum friction.
Thrust force is a force which is directed along
the axis of the pump shaft. It arises because of
the difference in pressure between the
discharge and suction sides of the pump
acting on the impeller. In Figure 11, the thrust
force will be from right to left, (from high
pressure to low pressure).

oil fill plug

In this case, to counteract the thrust force, a

ball bearing race (the thrust bearing) is
mounted between two vertical plates. It allows
the shaft to turn with a minimum of friction as it
takes up this thrust force.


The slinger rings (also called flinger rings)

are two slender rings, often of brass, which
slide up and down the shaft as it rotates. The
slinger rings dip into the lubricating oil and, as
they turn, transfer oil onto the shaft. The oil
then runs along the shaft and contacts the
faces of the bearings. Centrifugal force throws
the oil outwards along the bearing faces to
lubricate and cool them.
The oil in this type of bearing is either topped
up through an oil fill plug, as shown, or is
automatically replenished via an oil bottle

sump drain plug

oil sump

Figure 11 : A Typical Bearing Arrangement

Figure 12 is an illustration of a typical packed
seal. In this type of seal the packing consists
of rings of asbestos rope which are
impregnated with graphite. The rings are
placed around the shaft and compressed into
a packing gland by means of a gland
follower, the pressure on which can be
adjusted by four bolts.

packing lubricated and to prevent the shaft

from overheating.
In some cases a lantern ring is fitted
between sections of the asbestos packing so
that any liquid which has leaked along the
shaft can be removed.
The problem with this type of shaft seal is that
small leaks almost always occur, whatever
liquid is being pumped. These leaks are
usually necessary in order to keep the

However, any leak would be dangerous when

pumping oil or other hazardous liquid. In such
cases, a mechanical seal would probably be
used. A typical seal is illustrated in Figure 13
on the next page.

Figure 12 : A Typical Packed Seal

drive end

The shaft enters the pump casing from the

right hand side of the diagram and passes
through a stationary seal . The stationary
seal is fixed to the pump casing and does not
Attached 10 the Shaft is a rotary (of rotating)
seal. Leakage along the length of a shaft
prevented by 'O' rings which seal the gap
between shaft and rotating seal. The '0' rings
turn together with the shaft and rotating seal.

Stationary seal

Figure 13 : A Typical Mechanical Seal

The sealing faces of the rotating and

stationary seals are usually of machined
carbon or high grade stainless steel which
are polished to a mirror finish. The two
faces are held very closely together by a
spring and by the pressure of the liquid in
the pump.
A small amount of the liquid being pumped is
often taken form the discharge of the pump,
filtered, and then returned through the
mechanical seal via the seal flush inlet. This
liquid helps to keep the mechanical seal clean,
cool and lubricated.

Pump Configurations
Figure 14 shows examples of how centrifugal pumps may be configured to increase flow, or to
increase pressure.


Figure 14 a, b and c:
Centrifugal Pump Configurations
n Figure 14a, a single pump is delivering 100
gallons per minute with a total head of 50 psi
discharge head - suction head = total head.

Figure 14b shows that, to increase the flow,

two pumps arranged in parallel are needed that is, the pumps have a common suction and
a common discharge.
In this case, we can

run either pump on its own to produce a flow rate of 100 gallons per minute and a total head of 50
psi, or,
run both pumps together to produce a flow rate of 200 gallons per minute and a total head of 50
In Figure 14c, we can increase the pressure by running two pumps in series. This means that the first
pump discharges into the suction of the second pump.
In this case
both pumps must be run together

the combination of both pumps will

produce a flow rate of 100 gallons per
minute and a total head of 100 psi.

In most instances where high pressures are

required, it is easier to mount a number of
impellers on a single shaft. These pumps are
called multi-stage pumps. They give us high
flow rates, and a gradual pressure rise over as
many stages as required. Some main oil Figure
14 a, b and c : pipeline pumps may have more
than eight impeller stages.

Centrifugal Pump Performance

Every centrifugal pump is designed and
manufactured for a specific purpose. This
purpose is summarised in a pump
performance curve.
Figure 15 shows a typical performance
curve which gives us the following details
about a specific pump:

on the left hand side of the curve which

gives us the following details about a
specific pump

1) efficiency - from 0-100%. This

compares the power the pump is using
to the work it is achieving
2) power - from 0-24 kilowatts in this case.
This indicates the amount of power the
motor is consuming
3) total head - this indicates the pressure
which the pump can achieve
on the top right hand side of the chart we
can see the required NPSH (net positive
suction head) in metres of liquid. (you will
recall that NPSH was described in Section 1
on Page 13)

the horizontal axis of the chart gives flow

rate in cubic metres per hour.
in the body of the chart we find curves which
show the relationship between

NPSH and flowrate

efficiency and flowrate
power and flowrate
total head and flowrate

Take a few minutes to study Figure 15 and then

try Test Yourself 6 and 7.

The answers to these can be found in Check Yourself 6 and 7 on Pages 66 and 67

Now, to summarise what we have covered so

far in Section 2, try Test Yourself 8:

shaft sleeve 'O' Ping
lantern ting
wear rings
Flush inlet
Slinger ring
Glance holes
Gland follower
bell bearing race

Check your answers in Check Yourself 8 on

Page 67.





A Centrifugal Pump Arrangement

Before we look at a typical oil pumping system, let us think about those items of equipment which you
are most likely to come across.
Figure 16 is an illustration of a typical centrifugal pumping arrangement.

Figure 16 : A Typical Centrifugal Pump Arrangement

The motor which drives the pump is called the

main driver. In this case, the main driver is an
electric motor, but for bigger pumps it may be
a gas turbine or a diesel engine.
The motor has a set of local switches for
starting and stopping. In some cases a local
ammeter is fitted to check whether the motor
is running properly. In many instances, the
pump motor may also be started from a
remote location, such as a control room, either
manually or via an automatic start system.
The motor shaft is linked to the pump shaft via
a coupling, designed to transmit power from
the motor to the pump, and to take care of any
small shaft misalignments which may occur.
The flow of liquid into the pump is through a
suction block valve, which can be used to
isolate the pump from the upstream process if
required. Occasionally, a strainer or filter (not
shown) may be fitted to the suction line,
downstream of the suction block valve, to
prevent debris from entering the pump.
The pump casing is fitted with:

a casing vent valve, used to bleed off any

gas or air in the pump before starting
a casing drain valve, used to drain liquid
from the pump after shutdown

The discharge of the pump is fitted with:

a discharge pressure gauge, which

indicates the pressure produced by the

a discharge check valve, which only

allows flow in one direction, away from the
pump. This valve, therefore, prevents liquid
flowing back through the pump, backspinning it and causing damage to the
seals and bearings of both pump and
a discharge block valve, which can be
used to isolate the pump from the
downstream process, if required

Minimum Flow System

All centrifugal pumps require one other item of
equipment for their protection.
If we look back at the performance curve in
Figure 15 we can see that, when the pump is
running at zero flow, it is still using about 4
kilowatts of power. We also know, from the
performance curve, that the pump efficiency
will have fallen to zero.
So, what has happened to the power we are
using ?
The answer, of course, is that it is converted
into heat energy.
There would be great turbulence inside a
pump with the impeller turning through liquid
trapped within the pump. The temperature
would rise, increasing the chances of

In some instances, with large and powerful

pumps, damage can then occur in a matter of
seconds. In smaller machines it may take
much longer - but damage will eventually
To prevent this situation from happening, a
minimum flow must be established and
maintained through the pump at all times while
running. This minimum flow level is specified
by the pump manufacturer.
All centrifugal pumps which are at risk can be
fitted with a minimum flow system. This
ensures that, while the pump is running, there
is sufficient liquid flow to ensure that no
damage occurs.
In some instances, the minimum flow system
consists of a simple orifice plate, sized for the
correct flow. The plate is inserted into a line
through which is re-cycled a fixed flow from
pump discharge to pump suction at all times.
In other instances a flow measuring device is
fitted into the suction of the pump. This device
controls a flow control valve, inserted into a
line which re-cycles a fixed amount of flow. If
the flow falls below the pre-set minimum level,
the flow control valve will open to restore flow
rate to the minimum.

A simple and very common device is illustrated in

Summary of Section 2
Shaft seals
We exarnined Finally we looked at wly cenlrHugal pumps are fitted with a mintmum Ilew 5qstern, oriSuring that
flow difterent types of pump casing played a they do not become damaged due to overheating part in converting kirxatic energy into pressure and cavilMion.
how e can change flow and!ar prassura
characteris,tfcs by changirG pump In the next s9olian.
We Will ta'r.C_ ;1 I:i-k at a typicj~O
ceniigu:alions (parallel v. series)
aid metering land sampling systern
In particular, we looked at
the construction and :inierp-re;etion of a set of pump performance curves for a typical centrifugal pump and how they incorporate the concepts and ideas which
we had previously enc,ountered
a typicat centriluga' pump arrangement with its inlet and outtlet lines and associated equipment

Oil Pumping and Metering

Section 3 Oil Metering and Sampling
We have considered the basic design and
operation of a centrifugal pump.
Now it is time to take a look at crude oil
metering, metering systems, and sampling
There are four main reasons for metering and
sampling a flow of crude oil
1) to measure the amount of hydrocarbons
removed from the reservoir. This allows
field production plans to be updated and
2) to determine the amount of each
component in a mixed oil stream. This is
particularly important where the production
from separate oil fields are mixed (perhaps
as part of pipeline sharing agreements)
prior to the point of sale.
3) to measure the product for tax purposes.
This is called fiscal metering.
4) to ensure that no loss of product has
occurred. In an offshore oilfield, the amount
of metered offshore product, plus any
losses or gains due to packing or
unpacking of the pipeline (see below), is
compared regularly with the amount of
onshore metered product.

Multi-component liquids such as crude oil

are slightly compressible. Increases or
decreases in the overall pipeline pressure
will produce small changes in the volume of
oil contained within the pipeline. The terms
packing and unpacking are used to
describe these small changes in volume. If
they are ignored, apparent losses or gains
in the pipeline inventory can accumulate.
The sampling and metering system is placed
as late in the oil handling sequence as
possible. There are a number of reasons for
it should be downstream of any booster
pump which is fitted. (On many
installations, the crude oil passes through a
booster pump to raise the pressure prior to
entering the metering and sampling section.
This ensures that no gas or vapour will
break out of the liquid whilst it is being
metered and sampled)
no further processing of the fluid occurs
before export, and the fluid sampled and
metered is representative of the fluid being
metering takes place downstream of water
removal. At a water content higher than
about 1 %, serious discrepancies occur in
meter accuracy which conflict with the
objectives of metering and sampling

The process of metering and sampling is

therefore given a very high priority. Meters
themselves are checked regularly, using a
permanently installed meter prover. The meter
prover itself is checked regularly to ensure that
it, too, is accurate.
To emphasise this point, try Test Yourself 9:

There are many methods used to measure

fluid flow. It is worth noting, however, that most
flow rates are arrived at indirectly by measuring
some other property of the flowing fluid, and
then relating the value of this property to flow
rate by some form of calibration. This is true
for the two most common devices used for
metering produced oil:

the differential pressure meter

the turbine meter

For example, as you will see later on

in the differential pressure meter, it is a

pressure difference which is measured

in the turbine meter, we measure the

frequency of electrical pulses

In this Unit, we will take a brief look at the

differential pressure meter, and how it
operates. We will then consider the turbine
Differential Pressure Meters
Differential pressure metering is one of the
oldest methods of measuring flowrates. It is
simple, accurate, reliable and relatively
inexpensive. It will record volume flowrates
(say, cubic meters per day), but mass flowrates

(say, tonnes per day) can be calculated if the

density of the oil is known.
The most common differential pressure device
is one which uses a restriction, usually an
orifice plate, in the pipeline. The pressure drop
across this restriction is measured. This
pressure differential can then be related to
flowrate by the use of, for example, calibration
tables or graphs. A large amount of calibration
data has been published on this.
The orifice plate is popular because it has no
moving parts and is very accurate if calibrated
and maintained correctly.

In order to measure the pressure drop, there

should be pressure tappings on either side of
the orifice plate, as shown in Figure 18.
These are usually located:

one pipe diameter upstream of the orifice

plate and a half diameter downstream


in the flanges which hold the orifice plate

in the pipeline

The first method provides more accuracy, but

the second method is most widely used.
In general, accurate metering can only be
achieved when the orifice plate is designed,
fabricated and installed with great care.

Figure 19, demonstrates how the pressure

changes as fluid passes through an orifice
plate. The differential pressure is measured
between points P1 and P2. Point P2 is
positioned in line with the vena contracta the point at which fluid velocity is at its
highest, and pressure at its lowest.

The most common type is the square-edge

orifice plate, shown in Figure 18.

type of fluid
pipe diameter
orifice diameter
flow rate
inlet pressure

The differential pressure thus recorded may

then be converted into a flowrate figure.

We must ensure that the flow entering the

device is steady and free of eddies which
would affect the accuracy of the meter. The
orifice plate should, therefore, be placed at a
point where temperature and pressure are
constant. In addition, bends, valves and other
fittings upstream of the orifice plate tend to
disturb the flow pattern of the fluid
approaching the plate. To avoid this, it is
common practice to specify:

a minimum length of straight pipe both

upstream and downstream of the orifice

a flow straightening vane to be fitted
upstream of the plate

A flow straightening vane is a length of pipe

with a set of fins running along the inside. As
the fluid flows along this stretch of pipe, the
fins straighten the flow and prevent swirling.
Flow straightening vanes are also used
upstream of turbine meters.
The differential pressure thus created will
depend mainly upon

Figure 19 : Pressure Changes Across an

Orifice Plate

Turbine Meters
Turbine meters are the most popular method of
measuring produced oil. They are accurate,
reliable and are easily proved and adjusted.
Turbine meters consist of a straight flow tube
within which a turbine or fan is free to rotate.
You can see this in Figure 20. The flowing
stream causes the turbine to rotate at a speed
proportional to the flowrate. If the flow
increases, the turbine will spin faster. If the flow
decreases the turbine will rotate more slowly.

In most units, a magnetic pick-up system

senses the rotation of the turbine rotor. As each
blade passes the pick-up coil, an electric pulse
is generated. Each pulse is counted and, as
each pulse represents a known volume of
liquid, the total flow of oil can be calculated. In
some cases, two pick-up coils are installed, so
that the two separate pulse counts may be
compared with each other as an additional

Figure 20 : Turbine Meter

One of the major advantages of a turbine meter

is in its use for producing additional flow data.
The electrical pulses generated can be fed into
a computer system, which can then perform
other, more complex, flow calculations. This
additional information may be added to the final
It should always be remembered that the
accuracy of a turbine meter depends almost
entirely on the precision of the rotor and how
consistently its speed of rotation can be related
to flow. If the rotor becomes damaged, worn or
dirty, then its capacity to measure flow
accurately will suffer dramatically.

Metering Systems
The component parts of a typical turbine
metering run are shown in Figure 21. These
consist of

A manually operated Inlet block and

bleed valve, which allows the metering run
to be positively isolated from the rest of the
process upstream. The bleed facility
allows the space between the two valve
seals to be de-pressurised, proving that no
liquid is passing across the valve.

A filter, to remove any particles which

may damage the measuring element. The
filter is fitted with a differential pressure
switch (PDS), which gives an alarm if the
pressure drop across the filter gets too
high (due to filter blockage).

Flow straightening vanes, to remove

turbulence and any tendency for the fluid
to swirl.

A measuring element, in this case a

turbine meter fitted with a pulse transmitter.
The electrical pulses produced may be
transmitted to the flow computer. (In the
case of an orifice plate metering system,
the differential pressure across the plate
produces an electrical signal, which may
also be sent to the flow computer.)

Figure 21 : Meter Stream Components

A flow control valve, which controls the flow

of liquid through the metering run. When there
are two or more metering runs, a central
metering controller will apportion flow
between the different flow control valves to
ensure that each meter run is operating within
its limits.
A motor operated outlet block and bleed
valve (MOV), which allows the metering run to
be positively isolated from the rest of the
process downstream. This isolation is required
when the meter run is out of service, or when it
is being proved by the meter proving system.
A second, motor operated block and bleed
valve (MOV), which is opened when the meter
run is being proved. When this occurs the flow
is diverted through the second MOV to the
meter proving system.
In practice, the pressure, temperature and
density of the oil may change while the flowrate
is being measured. To compensate for these
changes, readings of the temperature,
pressure and density are taken. This
information is then fed, together with data from
the flow measurement device, into the flow
computer. Corrected values for volume flow
rate, mass flow rate, etc., can then be
computed and recorded.

Therefore, in many meter runs, but not shown

in Figure 21, you will find

a thermometer, which measures the

temperature of the stream being metered

a pressure transmitter

an on-line densitometer

Meter Proving
You saw, from Test-Yourself 9, that small
inaccuracies in measurement of oil can result
in considerable revenue losses. In order to
minimise any errors the meters are proved at
regular intervals. The term proving is used in
the oil industry to refer to the calibration of oil
The procedure involves comparing the
indicated (recorded) volume of oil passing
through the meter with the actual (true) volume
as measured by a very accurate device known
as a prover. From this comparison a correction
factor can be obtained which is then used to
convert the observed flow readings to true
This correction factor is known as the meter
There are various types of meter prover, but
the most common one is the pipe prover.

The basic principle on which a pipe prover

works is as follows:
A slightly oversize, elastic sphere is installed in
a special length of pipe. It is free to move
within the pipe as it is pushed by oil flowing
through. As it moves it forms a travelling seal
against the inside of the pipe.
The prover is connected in series with the
meter to be proved. So, the volume swept out
by the sphere in a given time is identical to the
volume passing through the meter.
Two detectors are installed in the special pipe
near each end. These emit a signal when the
sphere passes them, which is transmitted to
the pulse counter of the meter. When the
sphere reaches the first detector it starts the
counter. When the sphere reaches the second
detector it stops the counter.
The pulses, and therefore the volume,
recorded by the meter should be the same as
the true volume displaced by the sphere as it
travels between the detectors. If it is not, the
recorded volume and the true volume are
compared, to arrive at the meter factor.
The meter factor then is
accurately calibrated volume of prover
volume registered by meter

Pipe provers usually consist of a U-shaped

or W-shaped length of pipe. Figure 22 is an
illustration of a bi-directional U-shaped
meter prover loop.

Figure 22 : A Bi-Directional Prover Loop

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Brush pig

Foam Brush pig

Figure 23: Pig Designs

Page 40 of 80

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A bi-directional U-shaped meter prover
loop, operates as follows;
The flow enters the meter prover through the
meter under test.
In the position shown, the oil flow is holding the
calibration sphere against the buffer. If the 4way diverter valve is now turned through 90
degrees, the flow through the prover loop is
reversed. This reversed flow picks up the
sphere and carries it round the prover loop for
the first pass. Two sphere detectors are
mounted in the prover loop, and the internal
pipe volume between these detectors is
already known.
As the sphere passes sphere detector 'A', a
signal to the flow computer records the
flowmeter reading at that point.
When the sphere passes sphere detector 'B',
a new flowmeter reading is recorded.

The flow computer will then average the two

metered volumes from the first and second
passes and compare this average with the
known volume. If the volume recorded by the
meter under test is the same as the known
volume then the meter has been proved.
If there is a discrepancy between the measured
volume and the known volume, the flow
computer will calculate a correction factor and
then apply this to the meter under test. Another
meter proving run will then take place.
When the flowmeter reading (including any
correction factor) falls within 0.5% of the known
volume, without adjustment, for at least five
consecutive proving runs, it is classed as being

Sampling Systems

The calibration sphere, at the end of the first

pass, is now held against the other buffer.

It is not only important that the crude oil is

metered accurately. It is equally important to
gather information on the nature of the oil being
pumped. The chemical and physical nature of
the oil may change with time, as may the level
of contaminants, such as water or solids, still
present after the separation process.

The flow computer now turns the 4-way

diverter valve through another 90 degrees to
start the second pass.

A sampling system must therefore be

installed to determine the precise nature of the
liquid being pumped.

The second pass is now completed as above,

but with the oil flow reversed.

Sampling systems have two main functions

The difference between these two meter

readings, representing the metered volume of
the prover loop, is now computed and stored.

sampling for metering

sampling for analysis

Sampling for metering involves the use of an

online density measuring system. This system
continuously samples the fluid and passes the
density results to the flow computer. The
computer then combines values for density,
pipeline pressure and temperature to calculate
the mass flow.
Sampling for analysis is carried out by a
second system. At regular intervals, a pump
extracts a small amount of the fluid being
metered, and these small samples are stored
in a sample jar or similar vessel. Periodically,
this combined fluid sample is taken away to be
analysed in detail.
An on-line basic sediment and water (BS&W)
system is also installed on most oil handling
facilities. The BS&W analyzer ensures that the
water and solids content of the crude does not
exceed pre-set limits (typically "less than 1 %")
without a warning being transmitted to the
The automatic sampling systems described
above are usually backed up by samples taken
manually by the operator, as a check on the
automatic systems.

Page 41 of 80

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Oil Pumping and Metering

Section 4 Pig Launching Facilities
In previous sections, we have looked at the
equipment used to pump the oil. I have described
typical metering systems and how we prove that
they are accurate.
Sampling and analysis of
the crude oil were touched upon.
In Figure 1 we saw that the last stage in a crude oil
production facility is normally the pig launcher the final item of equipment on the installation
before the oil enters the main oil pipeline.
The oil which flows through the pipeline may have
a small amount of residual water in it. There may
be traces of sand, or wax may be deposited from
the oil as it cools down. All of these materials may
settle out and affect the efficiency of the pipeline.

By the way, there are two main explanations given

for the name pig both of which are equally

the first is that the original pigs were made

from stuffed pigskins, send through water
pipelines to clear them out

The second is that early pigs were made of

wood, with metal bands around them to help
withstand constant rubbing against the wall of
the pipeline. As they travelled along the
pipeline they "squealed like pigs" as the metal
bands scraped along the pipe

I will leave you to choose which one you believe.

Devices called pigs may then be pumped through

the pipeline, from the pig launcher, to remove the
water or sediments which have settled out from the

Types of Pig

Pig should from a reasonably tight fit inside the

pipeline, in order that
they perform their cleaning duties effectively
they are efficiently transported through the
pipeline by the fluid flow

Figure 23 on page 43 illustrates a few of the

designs available. Their main uses are as follows;
the squeegee pig is often used for separating
different liquids or gases when pipelines are
being filled or emptied, or when the same
pipeline is being used for different products. It

Pigs come in a variety of shapes and sizes

depending on the service which they are intended
to perform.

may also be used for lightweight cleaning

duties and for de-watering gas pipelines

the brush pig is used for cleaning and dewaxing pipelines. (Scrapers may also be
included in the design). Brush pigs in liquid
service often incorporate a series of pipes
which provide liquid channels through the pig
centre. Some of the liquid behind the-pig will
pass through the pipes and, because of the
angle at which these pipes are set, the pig
rotates, thus improving the brushing effect. In
addition, the jetting action this causes ahead to
the pig stops a build up of debris at that point.

the sphere is used mainly to de-water gas

pipelines but it is occasionally used for very
light cleaning work on oil pipelines

the foam pig is most often used for the initial

de-watering and cleaning of pipelines. Any
welding rods, or other sharp objects which may
have been left in the pipeline, embed
themselves into the foam as the pig passes by

the foam brush pig is used in lightweight

cleaning service, usually on gas pipelines

Page 42 of 80

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A very specialised pig is shown in Figure 24.
is the Kaliper pig or Linalog pig.
As this type of pig travels along the pipeline,
two wheels, positioned near the centre of the
pig, press against the walls of the pipe and
record how far the pig has travelled.
At the same time a series of fingers, mounted
at the back of the pig, slide along the walls of
the pipe and measure its diameter.
The information thus collected is recorded on
a chart which is built into the pig. The chart
can be analysed on arrival, to reveal variations
in internal diameter (caused, perhaps, by
dents or corrosion pitting) and precisely where
these variations occur.
Pigs are becoming more sophisticated and,
these days, are capable of measuring and
recording a wide range of data related to the
condition of the pipeline and contents.

Page 43 of 80

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Page 44 of 80

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Pig Launchers
We will now take a look at Figure 25, which shows the basic layout of a
pig launcher, and think about how it operates

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Under normal conditions, the crude oil supply
by-passes the pig launcher and flows through
valve X directly into the pipeline.
To load a pig into the pig launcher:

valve B and valve C should be closed

the pig launcher must be de-pressurised

and drained of liquid

when these steps are completed, the pig

launcher door - door A - is opened and the
pig placed inside the launcher

door A is then closed

the pig launcher is refilled with liquid and

re-pressurised using the pressurising

the pig launch Indicator is re-set to

record when the pig passes that point

valve B and valve C are then opened, and

valve X slowly closed

the flow of oil diverted through the pig

launcher and this flow forces the pig into
the pipeline
as the pig passes the pig launch indicator it
activates a flag which tells the operator
that the pig is in the pipeline

the operator can now open valve X, and

close valves B and C

Pig Launching Problems

It all looks pretty straightforward, so what can
go wrong?
Well, some pigs are very reluctant to leave the
pig launcher and it may take three or four
attempts at loading, to get them far enough
into the pig launcher for them to leave.
Again, pigs can break up as they traverse the
pipeline. This may result in the non-arrival of a
pig, and then damage to pigs which are sent
down after it.
Pigs can stick in the pipeline. Some pig /
pipeline combinations found onshore are so
prone to sticking that the pig is fitted with a
radio transmitter to assist in locating the
sticking point. When a pig is stuck, the
operator must decide whether to launch
another pig in an attempt to shift the first one.
If this doesn't work, you have two stuck pigs. Is
it wise to try a third?
On occasion, foam pigs will 'leapfrog' each
other inside the pipeline. Launched in the
order 1,2,3, they arrive in the order 1,3,2.
Pigs may leave the launcher and enter the
pipeline without triggering the 'pig launched'
signal; or arrive at the other end of the pipeline
without trigge ring the 'pig received' signal.

In addition, it should be remembered that the

operation of pig launchers and pig receivers is
a major cause of explosions in the oil and gas
industry. You will understand, therefore, why
the launching and recovery of pigs is an
operation which must be treated with a great
deal of respect.
Basic Rules for Pig Launching
Always bear in mind the following basic rules

stick closely to your own laid down

procedures and do not take any short-cuts

as the pig passes the pig launch indicator

it activates a "flag" which tells the operator
that the pig is in the pipeline

during pig launching and receiving

operations, do not assume that any event
has occurred or not occurred until you
have checked and double-checked

always make sure that you are launching

the correct size of pig
too narrow, and it may not travel
too wide, and it may stick, blocking the
too long, and it may jam on a bend, again
(blocking the pipeline

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valve C is closed
the pig launcher pressure is low

too short, and it may hang on a bend

allowing the flow to bypass it
always ensure that the pig is properly
positioned in the launcher so that it will
leave cleanly when the flow is diverted
always remember to re-set the 'pig
launched' device before you launch the
pig, otherwise you cannot tell whether it
has entered the pipeline or not
As I have already emphasised, opening and
closing pig launchers is potentially dangerous
and, because of this, most of the launching
facilities are fitted with safety systems. These
prevent the operator from opening the wrong
valve or, worst of all, opening the launcher
door whilst the launcher is open to the

Safety Systems
You will note from Figure 25 that a number of
interlocks have been labelled. I do not intend
to go into any detail on these -this topic will be
covered extensively by other Units in the
Petroleum Processing Technology Series.
As a simple illustration, however:
interlock A on the pig launcher door
Interlock B on valve B (inlet to the pig
interlock C on valve C (outlet from the pig
interlock D on the pig launcher low pressure
work together to ensure that the pig launcher
door cannot be opened unless
valve B is closed

Summary of Section 4
In this section we have looked at:

The reasons why we need to pig a pipeline

The different types of pig which may be used

A typical pig launcher and how to launch a pig

And, very briefly, the need for safety systems

We will now look at a typical Oil Pumping and Metering

system and see how it compares with what we have learned
so far. Before that, however, try the following Test Yourself:

Test Yourself 11
1. Why do pig launchers systems present an explosion hazard?
2. What steps should always be taken before a pig launcher door is
The answers are given in Check Yourself 11, which you will find on
Page --.

Oil Pumping and Metering

Section 5- A Typical Oil Pumping and Metering System
In this section we will take a look at a typical
oil pumping and metering system and see
how it relates to what we have covered
previously in this Unit.
You may like to refer back to Figure 1, which
shows the general layout.
A few assumptions have been made in the
design illustrated

the production operation is offshore and

the main pipeline takes the oil to an
onshore facility, where it is treated further

there is no crude oil buffer storage

facility. Therefore, the separated crude oil
is pumped directly from the second stage
separator, through booster pumps and
pipeline pumps into an export pipeline

the crude oil metering facility is located

between the booster pumps and the
pipeline pumps. As previously explained,
this location ensures that there is a stable
flow to the metering system and that the
pressure is sufficiently high to prevent
any gas bubbles forming

Booster Pumps
If we look at Figure 26, on the next page, we
can see how the booster pump system

The crude oil flows from the 2nd stage

separator through an emergency shutdown
valve, ESDV 1. Valve ESDV 1 is common to
the suction of all three pumps we are using
ESDV 1 will be closed by remote signals if an
emergency occurs. Typical emergencies
would be

a very low oil level in the 2nd stage

separator (part of a process shutdown
because only the oil process would be
closed down if this occurred)

a fire in the wellheads area (part of an

emergency shutdown, which would shut
down all processes).

ESDV 1 also has an interlock (IL) which, if

the valve is in the closed position will prevent
any of the booster pumps from starting.
It should be noted that, after the pumps are
running, the closure of ESDV 1 will not shut
them down via the emergency shutdown
system. It only acts as an inhibit to prevent
the pumps starting in certain circumstances.
If ESDV 1 closes while the pumps are
running, then the low-low pressure switch on
the discharge of the booster pump (PSLL)
would shut down the pumps.
Downstream of ESDV 1, the line branches
into three, which provide suction to each of
the booster pumps. It is normal practice to
specify that the piping configuration to the

pumps is designed to distribute the oil flow

The first valve on the suction of booster
pump A is HV 1. HV 1 is a hand operated
valve and it is also interlocked as an inhibit,
to prevent the starting of booster pump A
when it is closed.
Downstream of HV 1 and just upstream of
the inlet to the pump is a 'T' filter. This is
usually a coarse screen, designed to prevent
larger items of debris (gloves, helmets,
spanners, etc.) from entering and damaging
the pump.
The filter is fitted with a differential
pressure switch (PDS) which incorporates a
high differential alarm. This arrangement
will give an alarm in the event of a high
differential pressure caused by filter
blockage. It should be noted that a low or
zero reading here may be caused either by a
clean filter or a ruptured filter !
The discharge of booster pump A is fitted
with a pressure switch low (PSL) and a
pressure switch low-low (PSLL). PSL will
give an alarm and PSLL will cause the pump
to shut down in the event of low pressures.

Petroleum Open Learning

Figure 26 : A Typical Booster Pump System
After a shutdown, PSLL creates a potential
problem. If the pressure at that stage is
below the setting of PSLL, the pump cannot
be re-started. A shutdown signal is still
being sent from the Pressure Switch LowLow. Something must be done to allow the
pump to restart.
The problem is overcome by, automatically,
bypassing PSLL for 30 seconds when the
pump is started. This allows sufficient time
to build up enough pressure to re-set the
switch. If the increasing pressure does not
re-set PSLL before the 30 seconds have
elapsed, then the pump will shut down
again. This system is called a timepressure race, i.e., the pump is racing
against time to generate sufficient pressure
to re-set the switch.
The discharge of the pump is also fitted with
a pressure switch high (PSH) and a
pressure switch high-high (PSHH). PSH
will give an alarm and PSHH will cause the
pump to shut down in the event of high
pressures, perhaps because of problems
The discharge of the booster pump is fitted
with a minimum flow non-return valve
(SV 1), which we have already described in
Section 2, Page 31 and Figure 17. To
prevent the continuously re-cycled oil from
becoming progressively hotter, it is routed
all the way back to the 2nd stage separator
via HV 2.

The discharge from pump A now passes

through a hand-operated valve, before
joining the flow from the other pumps.
The combined flow then passes through
level control valve LCV 2. This valve
controls the oil level in the 2nd stage
separator. The separator level controller
will open this valve if the level rises, and
close it if the level falls. We can see that,
in the event of a failure of supply to the
2nd stage separator, the valve would
close completely and the booster pumps
would go on to minimum flow.
After passing across LCV 2 the oil flows to
the sampling and metering systems.
You should note that the booster pump
system is designed so that its discharge
pressure is high enough to meet the
required suction pressure at the main oil
pipeline pumps, which we will look at later.

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Sampling System
Figure 27 shows the layout of a typical sampling system.

Figure 27 : A Typical Sampling Arrangement

Page 51 of 78

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You will see that a side stream is removed

from the inlet header to the metering
system by one of two sample pumps, A
and B.

This side stream is drawn through

two.continuous sampling devices (A
and B) where a small sample is
removed and stored.
As an illustration of the sampling routine
sample device A may take a composite
sample of five litres per day
sample device B may take a composite
sample of 35 litres per week
one litre spot samples may be taken
manually by the operator, as a backup, at twelve hour intervals

result is then passed automatically to the

flow computer.
A BS&W analyzer checks for the basic
sediment and water contained in the crude
oil flow. Most pipeline operations have a
maximum specification for BS&W which,
typically, may be "not more than
1 %". This means that no more than 1 % of
the total volume pumped into the pipeline
should be sediment and water.
If an increased BS&W level occurs for any
length of time, the pipeline pigging
programme is readjusted to increase the
rate of pigging. This is required to prevent
the sediments and water from blocking and
corroding the pipeline.

After leaving the sample pumps, the

sample stream flows to two densitometers
(A and B) and a basic sediment and
water (BS&W) analyzer before returning to
the inlet header.
A densitometer is designed to measure
the density of the sample stream fluid. It
does this by comparing this fluid with a
reference, whose 7density is known. The

Page 52 of 78

Metering System
In the metering system shown in Figure 28,
I have included just one meter run and a
prover loop. The meter run, which we could
designate run 'A', is from upstream of the
inlet block valve (HV 1) to downstream of
the outlet block valve (MOV 1). In a
complete system there would be three or
more parallel runs. I have indicated this in
the drawing as additional runs'B' and'C'.

A single prover loop is used and there

are connections between each run and
the prover, enabling it to be placed in
series with any of the meters.

Figure 28 : A Typical Metering System

When meter run 'A' is in service, the normal

flow pattern would be through

the inlet block valve (HV 1)

the filter (F)
the flow straightening vanes
the turbine meter
the flow control valve (FCV 1)
the outlet block valve (MOV 1)

and from there to the pipeline oil pumps.

When the meter in run 'A' is being proved,
the flow would be through

the inlet block valve (HV 1)

the filter (F)
the flow straightening vanes
the turbine meter
the prover loop block valve (MOV 2)
the 4-way prover loop diverter valve
(MOV 3) the prover loop
the 4-way prover loop diverter valve
(MOV 3)
the prover loop flow control valve (FCV
and from there to the pipeline oil pumps.

Note the flow computer in the drawing. You

will remember from Section 3 that one of its
jobs is to compare the volume indicated by
the meter with the true volume of the loop to
obtain a meter factor. In addition, it
ensures that there is equal flow between
each of the meters being used. It does this
by altering the settings of the appropriate
flow control valves. If meter run 'A' were in
normal service this would be FCV 1. If
meter'A' is being proved however, the flow
would be controlled via FCV 2. The flow
reading from each meter is fed to the
computer via a flow transmitter (FT).
So, when the meter in run 'A' is being
proved, the flow computer
closes MOV 1
opens MOV 2
transfers control of flow from FCV 1 to
allows flow to stabilise
operates MOV 3 to start first proving run
operates MOV 3 again, to reverse flow
through prover and start second (and
any further) proving runs
performs necessary calculations to
obtain meter factor

A few other points to note are

1) interlocks are fitted to MOV 1 and MOV
2 to ensure that these valves are at the
right setting (open or closed) before the
meter proving starts
2) pressure relief valve PSV 1 is located
downstream of the filter and upstream of
the flow straightening vanes. If HV 1,
MOV 1 and MOV 2 are all closed for any
reason, the pressure inside the meter
run may rise due to any temperature
increase. PSV 1 is fitted to relieve this
3) to ensure the accuracy of the prover
loop, the sphere is always oversized by
1-2%. This ensures a tight fit between
the surface of the sphere and the walls
of the prover loop. The sphere is
replaced on a regular basis, and it is
normally the first item to be changed if
the accuracy of the prover loop is
4) An independent contract company is
often used to prove the prover loop, say,
on an annual basis

Oil Pipeline Pumps

If you look at Figure 29, you can probably see how the oil pipeline pumping system works.

Figure 29 : A Typical Pipeline Pumping System

It is rather similar to the booster pump layout,

so we will concentrate only on the important
When the minimum flow system is
operating, crude oil is re-cycled from the
discharge to the suction of the pump and
is not routed back to a separator, as was
the case in the booster pump layout. (The
separators are upstream of the meters.
Therefore, if the oil was re-cycled to the
separators, it would pass through the
meters twice, which, of course, would
introduce errors into the flow
However, because the pipeline pumps are
transferring a large amount of energy to
the oil, this direct re-cycling would result in
a rapid and substantial temperature rise.
To prevent this from occurring, a re-cycle
cooler is fitted to cool the crude before it is
returned to the suction of the pipeline
Offshore, the re-cycle cooler
would often use seawater as a cooling
medium (as shown in Figure 29) because
it is cheap and plentiful
Fluid Coupling
Pipeline pumps have a variable speed drive.
The speed at which they operate is
determined by the pipeline pressure
controller (which we will look at later). li the
line pressure is too low, then the controller
increases the pump speed; if it is too high, the
pump speed is decreased.
This speed variation may be achieved by a
fluid coupling between an AC electric motor
and the pump. Fluid couplings are also known
as hydraulic couplings.

Figure 30: A Fluid Coupling

Figure 30 is a three dimensional cut-away

drawing of the coupling assembly. You will
see that the coupling comprises:

an inlet shaft, connected to the drive

an outlet shaft, connected to the main
The inlet shaft drives an oil circulating pump.
The oil path is from the reservoir, via a cooler
and small holding tank, into the circulating
pump suction. From the pump discharge, the
oil flows to the scoop chamber.
You should take particular note of the
components labelled the runner and the
Impeller. They are both of similar design and
look like a ring of cups attached to a wheel.
The runner is at the end of the inlet shaft, and
the. impeller at the beginning of the outlet
shaft. Each turns independently of the other
within the casing. The only connection
between them is made by the circulating oil
when the unit is in operation - hence the term
fluid coupling.

The basis of operation is as follows

the inlet shaft turns the runner, and

drives the oil circulating pump. Note
that the runner turns at 100% of the
drive motor speed at all times

the cups on the runner pick up oil from

the outer perimeter of the scoop chamber
and throw it into the receiving cups of the
impeller. The runner is therefore acting as
a pump

the oil striking the impeller cups turns the

impeller, which is acting as a turbine

the impeller then turns the main pipeline


Pump Speed Control

The amount of oil transferred between the
runner and the impeller controls the output
speed of the impeller and, therefore, the
main oil pump.
Figure 31, on page 59, shows a series of
cross sectional diagrams through a fluid
coupling, which help us to explain this
mechanism of speed control.

Figure 31 a, b and c : Speed Control Using a Fluid Coupling

The position of the scoop tube will

determine how much power is transmitted
across the coupling.

In Figure 31 a the scoop tube is at

maximum extension, at a radius slightly
greater than the outer boundary of the
circulating oil. Therefore, all oil entering
the scoop chamber is 'scooped' away by
the open tip of the scoop tube and
returned to the reservoir. The scoop
chamber is virtually empty, and no oil
remains for the runner to throw at the
impeller. Power transmission is therefore
nil, and the main pipeline pump is
At an intermediate extension of the
scoop tube, (Figure 31 b), a ring of oil
can accumulate in the scoop chamber
between the tip of the scoop tube and
the outer boundary. This limited volume
of oil is now available for the runner to
throw at the impeller. An intermediate
level of power can now be transferred
across the coupling to drive the main
In Figure 31c, the scoop tube is at
minimum radius, the oil retained within
the scoop chamber is at a maximum,
and full power transfer is taking place.

Pipeline Pumping Pressure

Returning to Figure 29 again, the oil pipeline
pump speed is controlled by the speed
controller (SC) which takes its signal from
the pipeline pressure controller.
If the pipeline pressure is toe low. these
controllers will speed up the oil pipeline
pump by shortening the extension of t h e
scoop tube.

If the pressure is too high, the

controllers will slow down the main
pump by increasing the radius of the
scoop tube.
Pressure Transmitter
Finally, just upstream of the main outlet
valve ESDV 2 is a pressure transmitter (PT)
which sends a telemetry signal to the local
control room, to the share (in offshore
locations), and to other oilfields sharing the
same pipeline facility.
This safety feature is required to prevent
over-pressuring the pipeline.

Pig Launching
The pig launching facility is illustrated in
Figure 32. It is similar to the-one I have
described previously,

Normal flow through the system would be:

through ESDV 2

through MOV 1

through ESDV 3, and then

to the pipeline

ESDV 2 and ESDV 3 are two emergency

shutdown valves which are interlocked with
the ESD system to ensure that the pipeline
pumps cannot be operated when these
valves are closed.
On an offshore installation, ESDV 3 may
be situated on the sea bed. It is designed
to ensure that no oil can flow back to the
installation in the event of platform
malfunction. It is only operated in extreme
emergencies such as a fire or largo oil leak.

Figure 32: A Typical Pig Launching System

Now, with reference to Figure 32 again, we

can list the steps involved in launching a pig
1. check that the pig is undamaged, the
correct size, and that the shape is
undistorted. Spherical pigs may be
passed through a sizing ring to make
sure that they are the right size.
2. ensure that the pig signalling device
(SX) has been re-set, ready to tell us
when the pig has been launched
3. check that MOV 2, MOV 3 and HV 1 are
closed so that we may de-pressurise the
pig launcher
4. begin the de-pressurisation process
by opening HV 3, allowing pressure in
the pig launcher to blow the oil it
contains to the drain system
5. as the pressure falls, the high pressure
switch (PSH) will show that the pressure
is not high. Then the low pressure
switch (PSL) will show that the pressure
is low
6. when this situation is reached, we can
open HV 2 to the vent system and allow
the pig launcher and vent system
pressures to equalise. As this occurs,
the remainder of the oil will drain to the
drain system through HV 3

7. confirm that pressure is off the pig

launcher by checking a pressure gauge
(PG). Then close HV3.
8. Open HV4 to allow nitrogen (N2) to flow
through the pig launcher to remove
hydrocarbon gases. Close HV 4 and
9. Open the pig launcher door
10. Load the pig, ensuring that it is past the
inlet from MOV 2

11. close the pig launcher door and

purge air from the launcher (with
nitrogen) before re-pressurising. The
reason for purging is to prevent an
explosion when we bring the
pressure up to normal operating level
(in our example, the purging
operation is carried out by reopening HV 2 and then HV 4. This
allows a small amount of nitrogen to
displace air to the vent system via
HV 2)
12. when all air has been displaced, close
HV 4 and HV 2 and allow pressure to
build up to the pipeline operating
pressure by opening HV 1. As this

occurs, PSL will tell us that the pressure

is not low and PSH will finally tell us that
the pressure is high. When these two
switches have given their indications, we
will close HV 1
13. open MOV 3 and then MOV 2. We open
MOV 3 first because we do not want a
sudden flow of oil through the pig
launcher to try to force the pig through
MOV 3 as it is opening
14. when MOV 2 is fully open, close MOV 1
to divert the flow through the pig
launcher. We keep closing MOV 1 until
the flow launches the pig. When the pig
enters the pipeline, it will hit the pig
enters the pipeline, it will hit the pig
signalling device (SX). This will then tell
us that the pig has passed this point.
15. Re-open MOV 1, close MOV 2 and MOV
3, to return the system to normal.
You should note that a pig should never be
launched without first ensuring that the pig
receiver at the other end of the pipeline is
ready to receive it.
During all pigging operations, you should
follow the operational and safety procedures
laid down specifically for your equipment
and your installatio

Summary of Section 5
In this section we have:

Looked at the main design features of a typical oil

handling and metering system

Examined the laylout of a booster pump unit and, in

particular, how it may be controlled

Discussed the key elements of a sampling system and

noted that density and BS&W are measured

Worked through the operation of a metering system

and, in particular, a meter proving loop

Looked at a typical arrangement of the main pipeline

pumps, and compared this arrangement with that for
booster pumps

Discussed the main design features of a fluid drive

system, and how it may be used to control pumping rate

Describe the procedure for launching a pig to the


Now, finally, try this Test yourself, which covers some of the topics we have
discussed in Section 5.

Test Yourself 2
1. What do you understand by a time-pressure race?
2. In pig launching operations, what does the flag do?
3. What do we mean by the meter factor?
4. In the case of the booster pumps, why does the minimum flow
system re-cycle oil back to the second stage separator, and not
directly to the booster pump inlet?
5. The minimum flow system for the main pipeline pumps re-cycles
oil directly to the pump suction. Why does this arrangement differ
from that for the booster pumps?
6. What types of analysis does out sampling system perform
continuously on the oil flow?
You will find the answers to Test Yourself 12 on Page 65.

Unit Summary
In the course of this Unit on Oil Pumping and Metering, we have:

looked at some of the t h e o r i e s behind the operation of centrifugal pumps, including the behaviour of fluids, centrifugal
force and energy.

Detailed the component parts of a centrifugal pump, and the role each, plays in its operation

Examined the main design features of a metering and sampling system, and how it is controlled and operated

Familiarised ourselves with the layout and operations of a pig launching facility

Discussed the main design and operational aspects of a typical oil pumping and metering system

Now go back to the Training Targets on Page 4 of this unit and satisfy yourself that you are able to meet those targets.

Check Yourself 1

Check Yourself 2

Specific gravity of gasoline

Velocity of the car :


mass of one gallon of gasoline

mass of one gallon of water (reference)
8.5 lbs
10 lbs


= 180 kph = 50 metres/ sec

mass of one gallon of brine

mass of one gallon of water (reference)

11 lbs
10 lbs


10 feet head of water exerts a pressure of

4.33 pounds per square inch,
S.G. of gasoline = 0.85

Kinetic energy of the car:

= x 1000Kg x (50m/ sec x 50m/sec)
= 1250000 joules

Specific gravity of brine


Check Yourself 3

Velocity of the truck:

=30 kph = 8.3 metres/sec
Kinetic energy of the truck:
= x 2000Kg x (8.3m/ sec x 8.3m/sec)
= 688900 joules
Therefore, the car rigs 'he greater kinetic

Head Pressure of 10 feet of gasoline =

4.33 x 0.85 = 3.68 pounds per square

16 feet head of water exerts a pressure of

6.93 pounds per square inch,
S.G. of brine = 1.1
Head Pressure of 16 feet of brine =
6.93 x 1.1 = 7.62 pounds per square inch

Check Yourself 4
b. the static suction line pressure
c. the NPSH
a. the pressure at which gas or vapour is
The NP H represents the minimum design
pressure to prevent gas or vapour release and
should therefore be above this gas / vapour
release pressure by a safe margin
The static suction head pressure would normally
be maintained at about 10% above the NPSH.

Check Yourself 5
70 % differential
= 83.7% flow = 41.9 gals/ min

Check Yourself 6

20 cubic metres
7 per hour
this pump will:

of cubic
3.4 metres
Your answer should look like the following:
When apumping
perofflour this
40% differential pressure
will ;
= 63.2% flow = 31.6 gals/ min
57 metres
total head
of liquid
a minimum
of 3.9
metres head of
Therefore the flow rate
fall O
by ring

liquid NPSH
41.9. 31.6 = 10.3 gals/ min


develop 47 metres total head of liquid

Lantern ring
operate at 72% efficiency

Wear rings
consume11.7 kilowatts of power
Flush inlet

operate at 85% efficiency

Slinger ring


Balance holes

Gland follower

Ball bearing race


Check Yourself 9

1.0% of 60,000 bbl/ day = 600 bbl/ day = 600 x 365 bbl/ year = 219,000 bbl/ year
(assuming, of course, that the installation produces at that rate without interruption).

At $25 per barrel, this error is valued at about $5.5 million per year.

This example emphasises very effectively the importance of accuracy in the metering process. You should note that the error is equally
undesirable, whether it involves an over-measurement or under-measurement of crude oil volume.

Check Yourself 10
1. densitometer

An instrument, installed between

booster pumps and metering system,
to measure the density of the pipeline

7. Booster pumps

Located upstream of the metering and

sampling system (to discourage gas/ vapour

2. Flow straightening

Installed upstream of a flow meter to

smooth out flow and prevent swirling.

8. Pick-up coil

Part of a turbine meter, used to sense and

transmit speed of rotation.

3. 4-way diverter valve

Part of a meter proving loop, allowing

flow to be reversed for a second pass
of the sphere

9. Orifice plate

An essential part of the most common type

of differential pressure meter

4. vena contracta

This is cheating a little bit the vena

contracta is the point in the flow rate is
highest and pressure lowest.

10. Sphere detector

Part of a meter prover loop, and signals the

beginning and end of a prover run, allowing
the meter reading to be recorded at those

5. Prover loop

A pipe loop of known volume in the

meter proving system, which allows
accurate calibration of the meter.

11. Turbine meter

The most common type of oil flow meter,

located downstream of booster pumps, filter
and flow straightening vanes

6. BS&W analyser

An instrument, installed between

booster pumps and metering system,
to measure basic sediment and water
(BS&W) in the pipeline fluid.

12. Block and bleed


Located at various places in a metering run,

allowing the run to be positively isolated
from the rest of the process. The bleed
facility allows the space between the two
valve seals to be depressurised.

Check Yourself 11

Check Yourself 12

1. They are the only par[ of the pipeline

System which is regularly opened to the

1) When restarting the booster pumps after a shutdown due to low pressure, it will
be necessary to by-pass the pressure switch low-low (PSLL - see Figure 26) for
a short while. This gives the pump sufficient time to build up enough pressure to
re-set PSLL.

2. The pig launcher must be -.

a) isolated born the pipeline
b) drained of liquids
c) depressurised

2) The flag is part of the pig launch indicator mechanism, and signals that the pig
has passed that particular point in the system.
3) The meter factor is a correction factor which allows us to convert observed flow
readings to true values.
It is calculated during the meter proving procedure, by comparing the true value of
liquid passing through the meter in a given time, with the volume registered by the
meter in the same time:
meter factor

true volume of liquid passing through meter in a given time

volume registered by meter in the same time

4) Re-cycling directly back to the pump suction would cause the oil to become
progressively hotter. Re-cycling to the separator will give the oil an opportunity
to cool down.
5) The separators are upstream of the flow meters. If we re-cycled oil to the
separators, it would pass through the meters twice and give us a false flow
6) (i) density or specific gravity
(ii) basic sediment and water (BS&W)
samples are also taken for more detailed laboratory analysis.