Research Papers: Fundamental Issues and Canonical Flows

Maximum Drag Reduction Asymptote for Surfactant-Based Fluids in Circular Coiled Tubing

[+] Author and Article Information
Ahmed H. Kamel

Associate Professor
School of Business,
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin,
4901 E. University Boulevard, IT 108, Odessa, TX 79762
e-mail: kamel_a@utpb.edu

Subhash N. Shah

Stephenson Chair Professor
Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering,
The University of Oklahoma,
T-301 Sarkeys Energy Center,
100 Boyd Street, Norman, OK 73019-1003
e-mail: subhash@ou.edu

Manuscript received June 17, 2011; final manuscript received October 12, 2012; published online February 22, 2013. Editor: Malcolm J. Andrews.

J. Fluids Eng 135(3), 031201 (Feb 22, 2013) (10 pages) Paper No: FE-11-1252; doi: 10.1115/1.4023297 History: Received June 17, 2011; Revised October 12, 2012

Surfactants are superior to polymers in reducing drag and their advantages are very well established. As drag reducers, several factors, such as concentration, temperature, salinity, shear rate, etc., can affect their behavior. Other unique factors relevant to surfactants may include tubing diameter (scale-up effect), head group structure, counterion, charge, etc. Although, drag reduction envelope is customarily employed to investigate drag reduction phenomena, it is defined only for polymeric fluids in both straight and coiled tubing and for surfactant-based (SB) fluids in straight tubing. No such envelope is available for SB fluids in coiled tubing. The present research aims at experimentally investigating the drag reduction characteristics of the most widely used Aromox APA-T surfactant-based fluids. It is a highly active surfactant used as gelling agent in aqueous and brine base fluids. Flow data are gathered using small and large scale flow loops. Straight and coiled tubing with various sizes (1.27 cm to 7.30 cm o.d.) and curvature ratios (0.01 to 0.031) covering the field application range are utilized. The results show that SB fluids exhibit superior drag reduction characteristics. Their behavior is significantly affected by surfactant concentration, shear, tubing size, and geometry. Higher drag reduction is seen in straight tubing than in coiled tubing and increasing curvature ratio yields higher friction pressure losses. In coiled tubing, SB fluids exhibit better drag reduction characteristics than Shah and Zhou maximum drag reduction (MDR) asymptote for polymeric fluids. Therefore, a new maximum drag reduction asymptote is developed using data gathered in 1.27 cm o.d. tubing. The proposed correlation agrees with Zakin MDR asymptote for SB fluids in straight tubing where the curvature ratio is set to be zero. Employing the proposed correlation, a modified drag reduction envelope can be used to evaluate drag reduction characteristics of SB fluids.

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Fig. 1

Schematic diagram for small-scale experimental setup

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Fig. 2

Schematic diagram for large-scale experimental setup

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Fig. 3

Water data through 1.27 cm o.d. straight and coiled tubing

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Fig. 4

Fanning friction factor of water data through large-scale straight tubing

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Fig. 5

Fanning friction factor of water data through large-scale coiled tubing

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Fig. 6

Effect of concentration on drag reduction characteristics of SB fluids in 1.27 cm o.d. straight tubing

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Fig. 7

Effect of shear rate on drag reduction characteristics in 1.27 cm o.d. straight tubing

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Fig. 8

Effect of tubing size on drag reduction characteristics of 4% SB fluid in straight tubing

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Fig. 9

Effect of curvature ratio on drag reduction behavior of 4% SB fluid in 1.27 cm o.d. coiled tubing

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Fig. 13

Modified drag reduction envelope of SB fluids in coiled tubing

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Fig. 12

Fanning friction factors at maximum drag reduction for coiled tubing

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Fig. 11

Drag reduction envelope for SB fluids in coiled tubing

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Fig. 10

Drag reduction envelope for SB fluids in straight tubing




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