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Prediction of unsteady slug flow in a long curved inclined riser with a slug tracking model

Padrino, Juan C.; Srinil, Narakorn; Kurushina, Victoria; Swailes, David


Juan C. Padrino

Narakorn Srinil

Victoria Kurushina

David Swailes


An improved one-dimensional mechanistic model is presented for the prediction of unsteady gas-liquid slug flows in inclined curved pipes, using the slug tracking approach. The equations for mass and momentum conservation are applied to the slug body, liquid film, and elongated bubble regions constituting a slug unit cell. The proposed model can be applied to horizontal or inclined upward flows. Statements of mass conservation result in axial changes of the liquid and gas velocities in the liquid film and elongated bubble. The slug initiation at the inlet is modelled as a random process with slug length variations. Closure relationships for the bubble nose velocity, modified by the wake effect, and the slug frequency for slug initiation are employed. The discretized governing equations are solved fully implicitly, introducing numerical treatments associated with the outlet boundary conditions and the merging of slug units. Of practical interest is an upward gas-liquid slug flow in a catenary riser with a high aspect ratio (length over diameter) being an order of a thousand representing an offshore subsea pipe for the oil and gas production. By considering the pipe initially fully filled with the traveling liquid, the dynamic scenario of the pipe transporting successive slug units is simulated, capturing the continuing evolution of slug flow patterns along the pipe exhibiting the disappearances of liquid slugs due to the bubble coalescences. Spatio-temporal variations of the liquid holdup, the pressure and its gradient, the film and slug lengths, the slug frequency, the velocities of the slug front, bubble nose, liquid in the slug body and film, and of the gas in the elongated bubble are evaluated. The backward flow occurrence in the film zone near the outlet is also predicted due to the pipe inclination. Parametric investigations are performed by specifying the superficial liquid and gas velocities, and comparing the cases of catenary pipes (with variable inclinations) versus inclined and horizontal straight pipes (with fixed inclinations). Results highlight the important effect of gas-to-oil superficial velocity ratio (GOR) in combination with the pipe inclination and curvature effects. Fluctuations of slug flow properties appear to be considerably amplified and more intermittent when increasing the GOR. This observation is important towards regulating the practical flow rates for subsea oil and gas productions as well as designing flexible pipes subject to slug flow-induced vibrations.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 3, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 8, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2023
Journal International Journal of Multiphase Flow
Print ISSN 0301-9322
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 162
Article Number 104410
Keywords Slug flow, Mechanistic model, Slug tracking, Multiphase flow, Catenary riser


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