Pipeline commissioning, which is a key link from engineering construction to production operation, is aim to fill an empty pipe by injecting water or oil to push air out of it. For a large-slope crude oil pipeline with great elevation differences, air is fairly easy to entrap at downward inclined parts. The entrapped air, which is also called air pocket, will cause considerable damage on pumps and pipes. The presence of it may also bring difficulties in tracking the location of the liquid head or the interface between oil and water. It is the accumulated air that needed to be exhausted in time during commissioning.

This paper focuses on the simulation of liquid-gas replacement in commissioning process that only liquid flow rate exists while gas stays stagnant in the pipe and is demanded to be replaced by liquid. Few previous researches have been found yet in this area. Consequently, the flow in a V-section pipeline consisted of a downhill segment and a subsequent uphill one is used here for studying both the formation and exhaustion behaviors of the intake air. The existing two-fluid model and simplified non-pressure wave model for gas-liquid stratified flow are applied to performance the gas formation and accumulation. The exhausting process is deemed to be a period in which the elongated bubble (Taylor bubble) is fragmented into dispersed small bubbles. A mathematical model to account for gas entrainment into liquid slug is proposed, implemented and incorporated in a computational procedure. By taking into account the comprehensive effects of liquid flow rate, fluid properties, surface tension, and inclination angle, the characteristics of the air section such as the length, pressure and mass can be calculated accurately. The model was found to show satisfactory predictions when tested in a pipeline. The simulation studies can provide theoretical support and guidance for field engineering application, which are meanwhile capable of helping detect changes in parameters of gas section. Thus corresponding control measures can be adopted timely and appropriately in commissioning process.

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