You are on page 1of 10

Best Practice

SABP-A-049 24 June 2015


Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee

Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards


Table of Contents

1 Introduction... 2
2 Multiphase Flow Introduction. 3
3 Design Considerations5

Previous Issue: 25 June 2014 Next Planned Update: TBD


Revised paragraphs are indicated in the right margin Page 1 of 10
Primary contact: Jianzhi Ge (gejx) on +966-13-8809458

CopyrightSaudi Aramco 2015. All rights reserved.


Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

1 Introduction

1.1 Scope

The scope of this Best Practice is to document the observations from the field
experiences and establish practical guidelines and procedures in order to
improve or mitigate in-plant piping hydraulic performance issues when under
multiphase flow condition.

1.2 Disclaimer

This Best Practice is being provided for the general guidance and benefit of
Saudi Aramco engineers and operating facilities. The use of the information or
material contained here will not release the users from the responsibility of
safeguarding and controlling their operations within Saudi Aramco established
guidelines such as GIs and engineering standards.

1.3 Conflicts with Mandatory Standards

In the event of a conflict between this Best Practice and other Mandatory Saudi
Aramco Engineering Requirement, the Mandatory Saudi Aramco Engineering
Requirement shall govern.

1.4 References

This Best Practice is based on the latest edition of the references listed in below,
unless otherwise noted.

Saudi Aramco References

Saudi Aramco Engineering Procedures


SAEP-14 Project Proposal
SAEP-27 Pipelines/Piping Hydraulic Surge Analysis
SAEP-302 Instructions for Obtaining a Waiver of a Mandatory
Saudi Aramco Engineering Requirement
SAEP-303 Engineering Reviews of Project Proposal and Detail
Design Documentation
SAEP-363 Pipeline Simulation Model Development and Support

Saudi Aramco Engineering Standards


SAES-L-100 Applicable Codes and Standards for Pressure
Piping System

Page 2 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

SAES-L-120 Piping Flexibility Analysis


SAES-L-132 Material Selection of Piping Systems
SAES-L-150 Pressure Testing of Plant Piping and Pipelines
SAES-L-310 Design of Plant Piping
SAES-L-350 Construction of Plant Piping
SAES-L-410 Design of Pipeline
SAES-L-450 Construction of On-Land and Near-Shore Pipeline
SAES-L-610 Nonmetallic Piping in Oily Water Services

International Standards and Codes

American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical


Engineers
ANSI/ASME B16.5 Pipe Flanges and Flanged Fittings
ANSI/ASME B31.1 Power Piping
ANSI/ASME B31.3 Chemical Plant and Petroleum Refinery Pipeline or
In-Plant Piping
ANSI/ASME B31.4 Liquid Petroleum Transportation Piping Systems for
Cross-Country Liquid Pipelines
ANSI/ASME B31.8 Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems

2 Multiphase Flow Introduction

The piping will be under two or three phase flow condition whenever immiscible oil,
water, and gas co-exist in the piping system. A combination of the gas/oil/water
flowrate and the pipe orientation (horizontal/vertical/inclined) will dictate the
multiphase flow conditions and the different flow patterns.

2.1 Horizontal Pipe

Figure 1 below shows the typical flow patterns in horizontal pipe.

Bubble Flow Stratified Flow Slugging Flow Annular Flow

Figure 1 - Typical Flow Patterns for Horizontal Pipe

Page 3 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

In bubble flow, a continuous liquid phase exists with gas bubbles dispersed in
the liquid phase when liquid flowrate is high. At lower flowrate, complete
separation of gas and liquid will form two phases with gas on the top and liquid
in the bottom. This is the so-called stratified flow. When gas rate increases, the
gas-liquid interface will be agitated and liquid waves will form. This is the
wavy (stratified) flow pattern. Slug flow pattern is characterized with
alternative gas and liquid phases in the pipe when the gas bubble is almost filled
the whole pipe sections. The annular flow exists at higher gas rate. The liquid
is pushed toward the wall to form a continuous annular film.

2.2 Flow Patterns in Vertical Pipe

Figure 2 shows typical flow patterns for vertical pipe.

Bubble Flow Slugging Flow Churn Flow Annular Flow


Figure 2 - Typical Flow Patterns for Vertical Pipe

Similar to the horizontal pipe, the bubble flow is characterized with continuous
liquid phase with gas bubble dispersed in the liquid. When the quantity of gas
increases, the gas bubble will collide with each other and form bigger bubbles.
The gas bubbles can be very big and fill the whole pipe section area to form the
slug flow. The churn flow is an intermediate flow pattern between slug flow
and annular flow. The fluid travels back and forth when gas bubbles become
unstable. The gas bubbles will merge and burst into smaller ones to make the
flow unstable. This is an unstable flow pattern and needs to be avoided.
Annular flow is formed at high gas rate when the liquid is pushed to the wall to
form a continuous liquid film layer.

Page 4 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

3 Design Considerations

3.1 How to Determine if the In-Plant Piping is under Multiphase Flow Condition

Plant piping is used to connect different process equipment. Although plant


piping is not normally modeled in the process simulation, the inlet and outlet
conditions for each individual process equipment is available from the process
simulation. The HYSYS process simulator will be used below to illustrate how
to determine the fluid phase conditions in the piping.

The Stream is used in HYSYS to connect different process equipment.


Figure 3 and Figure 4 show examples of Stream properties from HYSYS
process simulations.

Figure 3 - Example of HYSYS Simulation Output (Three Phases)

Page 5 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

Figure 4 - Example of HYSYS Simulation Output (Single Phase)

Figure 3 shows a flow stream called Fluid to HPPT_Trap and Figure 4 shows
a flow stream called 218. It is very obvious that stream Fluid to
HPPT_Trap is three phases while stream 218 is one phase. Since stream
Fluid to HPPT_Trap is three phases, the piping used for this stream will be
under three phase conditions while piping for stream 218 is under single phase
condition. Special considerations for piping design and operation are needed if
a stream is determined to be under two/three phase conditions.

3.2 General Considerations for the Design and Operation of Multiphase Flow
In-Plant Piping

Extra Load to the Piping System due to Multiphase Flow

When an in-plant piping is identified to be under multiphase flow conditions,


multiphase pipeline hydraulic simulations need to be carried out to identify the
flow patterns. Whenever possible, slug and other unstable flow patterns should
be avoided. Unstable flow exists under certain combination of liquid and gas

Page 6 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

flow rates (velocities). The selection of the flowing conditions and pipe size
should try to avoid those flowrate (velocity) areas.

Extra load to the pipeline support and to the pipeline tee and bends due to
multiphase flow needs to be considered. Velocity for the stable flow patterns
(bubble flow, stratified flow, and annular flow) can be obtained by steady-state
multiphase flow simulators (refer to SAEP-363 for recommended software).
The velocity can then be used to perform the force calculations and stress
analysis per the corresponding pipeline design standards. For example, 10.2 in
SAES-L-620 states the slug load calculation is as the following (page 22 of
SAES-L-620):

Fx= Fy =Av2 /g
where
is the density of the liquid phase,
A is the cross-sectional flow area of the pipe,
v is the gas velocity propelling the slug of liquid, and
g is gravity.

Normal pipeline support and restrain design will not meet the load for unstable
flow patterns (slug flow, churn flow) due to its dynamic nature. The dynamic
load should be analyzed using appropriate stress analysis software. Pipeline
multiphase dynamic simulation software should be used for velocity calculations
(refer to SAEP-363 for recommended software). The calculated results can then
be provided to the stress analysis software for support design.

Special Consideration to the Piping Arrangement

Piping arrangement should be designed to avoid unstable flow patterns


whenever possible. Pipeline multiphase simulation software can be used for the
pattern prediction. When the piping is used to feed several parallel equipment, it
is very critical to have symmetrical arrangement for the piping downstream of
the splitting point in order to obtain even split for all the phases to individual
equipment. The examples below illustrated some basic principles for the
multiphase piping design.

3.3 Examples

Piping Vibration

Piping vibration due to unstable flow in multiphase piping is a very common


issue. It is always recommended to try to avoid this flow patterns whenever
possible during the design. This issue may not be completely eliminated and
proper piping restrains and support should be designed. The design should

Page 7 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

consider the whole range of the operation conditions as unstable flow may only
exist in some operation conditions as shown in Figure 5 and Figure 6.

Figure 5 - Total Liquid Flowrate at Key Location

Figure 6 - Total Liquid Flowrate at Key Location

Page 8 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

Figure 5 and Figure 6 show liquid flowrate at an in-plant piping key location.
The flowrate in Figure 6 is about half of the flowrate in Figure 5 and the magnitude
of flowrate oscillation in Figure 6 is much higher than that in Figure 5. The piping
design needs to consider Figure 6 flow conditions if it is determined that this
flowrate is one of the operation conditions.

Piping Split to Several Downsream Process Equipment

Separator 1 Separator 2

Figure 7 - Header to Several Parallel Separators

Figure 7 shows a piping arrangement to two separators. There are several issues
to this piping arrangement:
The fluid is flowing out of the header from the bottom of the pipe, which can
potentially take more liquid than gas for the first separator.
The flowrate may not be equal due to more friction loss in the second separator.

A better way to arrange the piping will be a symmetrical arrangement as the


following:

Separator 1

Separator 2

Figure 8 - Header to Two Parallel Separators

Figure 8 arrangement is to arrange the Separator 1 and Separator 2 at the same


height and the split to the two separators is also horizontal.

Page 9 of 10
Document Responsibility: Flow Assurance Standards Committee SABP-A-049
Issue Date: 24 June 2015
Next Planned Update: TBD Multiphase Flow Guidelines for In-Plant Piping

In the case of plant expansion, more separators can be added. It should pay
close attention to minimize the multiphase flow impact to the flow split as
shown in the below example.

Separator 1

Separator 2

Figure 9 - Header to Two Parallel Separators

The tie-in points for the jumper line between the two separators are not at the
same level. This arrangement will promote more gas flowing to the tie-in point
at higher elevation and more liquid flowing to the tie-in point at lower elevation,
which will cause more gas to Separator 1 and more liquid to Separator 2.

Revision Summary
25 June 2014 New Saudi Aramco Best Practice.
24 June 2015 Editorial revision to transfer responsibility from the Process Engineering Standards
Committee.

Page 10 of 10