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A pipeline company experienced flow rate limitations on a multi-diameter pipeline that was transporting crude oil from West Texas oil fields to a major refinery more than 100 miles away. The majority of crude oil transported was West Texas Intermediate (WTI) with an average 43°API, and the flow rate was limited by maximum operating pressure. CAPEX constraints prevented them from installing upgraded equipment, so the operator reached out to Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), for a more economical solution to increase the crude throughput.

BHGE proposed a treatment program with FLO™ FUSION 4000—a slurry drag reducing agent (DRA) designed to reduce the friction associated with flow in crude oil pipelines. The efficacy of treatment was evaluated via a drag reduction field test along a 17-mile section of the pipeline. BHGE executed the field test at three separate dosages to fully characterize the percentage drag reduction achievable. A performance curve was fitted to the three dosages examined during testing (Figure 1).

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Challenges & Results
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Challenges

  • Existing pipeline flow rate limited by maximum operating pressure
  • CAPEX to increase throughput via equipment upgrades was not a feasible solution

Results

  • Enabled pipeline company to increase flow rate by more than 40%