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# Choosing a line size and wall

thickness 7
7.1 Choosing a line size
7.1.1 General considerations
The fluid flow equations presented in Chapter 6 enable the engineer to initiate the
design of a piping or pipeline system, where the pressure drop available governs
the selection of the pipe size. When choosing a line size, it is necessary to evaluate
both pressure drop and flow velocity for expected maximum and minimum flow rates
anticipated during the life of the facility. It is usually advisable to add surge factors to
the expected flow rates to ensure there is sufficient pressure available to force the fluid
through the piping system. Surges can be a function of line length and elevation
changes. Table 7.1, based on data originally included in API RP 14E, presents some
typical surge factors that may be used if more definite information is not available.
The line diameter must be large enough so that the available pressure is sufficient
to drive the fluid through the line from point 1 to point 2. Therefore, its important
the operating pressures at the various points of the facility must be known. In most
cases, the pressure drop is not the governing criterion in production facility piping
system design since most of the pressure drop occurs across control valves. The pres-
sure drop in the line is relatively small compared with the pressure available in the
system.
Consideration should also be given to maximum and minimum velocities. The line
should be sized such that the maximum velocity of the fluid does not cause erosion,
excess noise, or water hammer. The line should be sized such that the minimum veloc-
ity of the fluid prevents surging and keeps the line swept clear of entrained solids and
liquids.

## 7.1.2 Erosional velocity

Fluid erosion occurs when liquid droplets impact the pipe wall with enough force to
erode either the base metal itself or the products of corrosion, that is, erosion corro-
sion. As the fluid velocity increases, the tendency for erosion to occur also increases.
The following equation can be used where no specific information as to the erosive/
corrosive properties of the fluid is available:
Field units:

Ce
Ve 1:22 1
(7.1a)
2
Surface Production Operations. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-85617-808-2.00007-9
472 Surface Production Operations

## Table 7.1 Typical surge factors

Service Surge factor (%)

## Facility handling primary production 20

Facility handling primary production from wells not located adjacent 30
to the facility
Facility handling primary production from wells not located adjacent 40
to the facility where there are large elevation changes
Facility handling gas-lifted production 50

## (Courtesy of API RP 14E)

SI units:

Ce
Ve 1
(7.1b)
2
where
Ve erosional flow velocity (ft./s (m3/s)),
density of liquid (lb/ft.3 (kg/m3)),
Ce empirical constant, dimensionless.

## 7.1.2.1 Discussion concerning the empirical constant C

Various values have been used and proposed for C. Equation 7.1 was first published
in API RP 14E in the mid-1980s, and a value of 100 was recommended for continuous
service and 125 for noncontinuous service. Analysis of field data indicates that con-
stants higher than 100 can be used if corrosion is controlled. With the increase in high
pressure and high flow rate wells, the equation produced very conservative results.
Therefore, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was commissioned by the American
Petroleum Institute (API) and the former Minerals Management Service (MMS) to
evaluate the validity of Equation 7.1.

## 7.1.2.2 Conclusions of Southwest Research Institute study

The conclusions of the SwRI study resulted in the revision of API RP 14E in 1990. API
RP 14E revision included the following wording: Industry experience to
date indicates that for solids-free fluids, values of C 100 for continuous service
and C 125 for intermittent service are conservative. For solids-free fluids where
corrosion is not anticipated or when corrosion is controlled by inhibition or by
employing corrosion-resistant alloys, values of C 150-200 may be used for contin-
uous service; values up to 250 have been used successfully for intermittent service. If
solids production is anticipated, fluid velocities should be significantly reduced. Dif-
ferent values of C may be used where specific application studies have shown them to
be appropriate.
Choosing a line size and wall thickness 473

Where solids and/or corrosive contaminants are present or where C values higher
than 100 for continuous service are used, periodic surveys to assess pipe wall thickness
should be considered. The design of any piping system where solids are anticipated
should consider the installation of sand probes, cushion flow tees, and a minimum
of three feet of straight piping downstream of choke outlets.

## 7.1.2.3 Erosion from solid particle impingement

Erosion of the pipe material itself can occur if solids are present in the fluid. There is
no minimum velocity below, in which this erosion will not occur. One equation pro-
posed to evaluate the erosion of metal is
Field units:
 2
12KW Vp
vol (7.2a)
gPh

SI units:
 2
3 KW Vp
vol 9:806  10 (7.2b)
gPh

where
vol volume of metal eroded (in.3 (mm3)),
Vp particle velocity (ft./s (m/s)),
Ph penetration hardness of the material (psi (kPa)),
a value between 0.5 and 1.0 depending upon the impingement angle of the particle,
K erosive wear coefficient, dimensionless,
W total weight of impinging solid particles (lbs (kg)),
g acceleration of gravity (32.2 ft./s2 (9.81 m/s2)).
The form of this equation indicates that there is no threshold below which erosion does
not occur. Instead, erosion can occur even at small velocities, and the amount of ero-
sion increases with the square of the velocity. It can be seen from Equation 7.2 that the
velocity for a given erosion rate is a function of 1/W. Since the percent of solids
impinging on any surface is inversely proportional to the density of the fluid, the ero-
sional velocity can be expected to be proportional to the fluid density. This is contrary
to the form of Equation 7.1. Thus, it is not correct to use Equation 7.1 with low C
value when solids are present.
The rate of erosion depends on both the concentration of solids in the flow stream
and the way in which these particles impinge on the wall. At an ell, one would expect
centrifugal force to cause a high percentage of the particles to impinge on the wall in a
concentrated area. It can be shown that with a solids concentration of 10 lbs/month
(4.5 kg/month) in the flow stream, the velocity for a 10 miles/year (0.25 mm/year)
erosion rate in an ell can be as low as 5 ft./s (1.5 m/s). At higher concentrations, the
erosional velocity would be even lower. For this reason, where sand production is
474 Surface Production Operations

Outlet

Bull plug or
weld cap

Inlet

Weight loss (g)

## Weight loss, g vs. Sand flow, lb

40 / 60 franc sand (dry)
Flow velocity 100 ft. / s
Weight loss, g = W
Sand flow, lb = S

W = 0.140 S
W = 0.138 S
W = 0.073 S
W = 0.061 S

## Figure 7.2 Wear rate comparison for standard fittings.

Source: API OSAPR Project 2.

## anticipated, it is usually recommended that right-angle turns in the pipe be accom-

plished with very long-radius fabricated bends or target tees. Figure 7.1 illustrates a
target tee and Figure 7.2 shows the greater life that can be expected by the use of a target
tee in lieu of a long-radius ell. Where sand production is expected, piping should be
inspected periodically for loss of wall thickness at the outside of all direction changes.

## 7.1.3 Liquid line sizing

When sizing a liquid line, the two factors that have the greatest effect are the pressure
drop in the pipe and the velocity of the fluid.
Choosing a line size and wall thickness 475

## 7.1.3.1 Pressure drop

When determining the pressure drop, it is necessary to take into account the equivalent
lengths of valves and fittings, as well as elevation changes. If a throttling dump valve
is in the line, the pressure drop in the line should be limited to less than 70% of the total
available at twice the average flow. Pressure drop normally doesnt govern in single-
phase liquid lines within a surface production facility.

7.1.3.2 Velocity
7.1.3.2.1 Maximum velocity
Maximum velocity: The maximum velocity is used in sizing liquid lines and depends
on service conditions, pipe materials, and economics. For example, API RP14E rec-
ommends that the maximum velocity not exceed 15 ft./s (4.5 m/s). Most companies
specify the following maximum velocities:
l
Cement-lined pipe: 8-10 ft./s (2.4-3.0 m/s)
l
Fiberglass pipe: 12-15 ft./s (3.7-4.5 m/s)
l
Where erosion corrosion is a problem: 10-15 ft./s (3.0-4.5 m/s)

Even lower maximum velocities may be used for cement-lined pipe, where erosion
corrosion is anticipated, or in water injection lines.

## 7.1.3.2.2 Minimum velocity

Minimum velocity: The minimum velocity used in sizing liquid lines usually is based
on maintaining a velocity sufficient to keep solid particles from depositing in the line.
If sand is transported in a line, it is deposited on the bottom until an equilibrium flow
velocity over the bed is reached. At this point, sand grains are being eroded from the
bed at the same rate as they are being deposited. If the flow rate is increased, the bed
will be eroded until a new equilibrium velocity is reached and the bed is once again
stabilized. If the flow rate is decreased, sand is deposited until a new equilibrium
velocity is established. In most practical cases, a velocity of 3-4 ft./s (0.9-1.2 m/s)
is sufficient to keep from building a sufficiently high bed to affect pressure drop cal-
culations. Thus, a minimum velocity of 3 ft./s (0.9 m/s) is normally recommended.
Figure 7.3 can be used to determine the liquid velocity in various pipe sizes. Liquid
velocity can be determined from the following:
Field units:

Q1
V 0:012 (7.3a)
d2

SI units:

Q1
V 353:68 (7.3b)
d2
476 Surface Production Operations

)
4
61
Maximum

0.
=
(ID
Liquid flow velocity, ft. / s

7)
95
0.

)
8
=

27

)
(ID

23 )

)
1.

2.
= .125

)
)

)
50

6
=

(ID 39

0
3
1.
(ID

82
90
(ID = 2
9
=

3.
1.

2.

)
5
(ID

=
=

06
(ID
(ID

(ID

6.

)
1
=

98
(ID

)
7.

Minimum

.0

25 8 )
(ID

10

)
(ID = 1 .93

0
=

50 )
11
(ID

.2 0
3.

)
=

17 25
(ID

= 5.

1
(ID

(ID =

Liquid flow rate, barrels fluid per day

Figure 7.3 Liquid flow velocity as a function of liquid flow rate for different pipe sizes.
(Courtesy of API RP 14E)

where
V average velocity (ft./s (m/s)),
Ql liquid flow rate (BPD (m3/h)),
d pipe inside diameter (in. (mm)).
Derivation of Equation 7.3a (field units):
Converting velocity into oil field units,

Q
V
A
and

d 2
A
4144
 
5:61
Q QL
243600

substituting

Q1
V 0:012 (7.3a)
d2
Choosing a line size and wall thickness 477

where
V fluid velocity (ft./s),
QL liquid flow rate (BPD),
Q liquid flow rate (ft.3/s),
A pipe cross-sectional area (ft.2),
d pipe inside diameter (in.).

## 7.1.4 Gas line sizing

As with liquid line sizing, the two factors that have a pronounced effect on gas line size
are the pressure drop and the velocity of the gas. The pressure drop in gas lines is typ-
ically low in gas-producing facilities because the piping segment lengths are short.
The pressure drop has a more significant impact upon longer segments such as
gas-gathering pipelines, transmission pipelines, or relief or vent piping.

## 7.1.4.1 Pressure drop

The pressure drop is usually the governing factor in long gas-gathering and transmis-
sion systems or in relief/vent piping. The pressure drop also may be important where it
necessitates increased compressor horsepower. In a typical production facility, the gas
lines are short and the pressure drop does not govern sizing. In some facilities, the
pressure lost due to friction must be recovered by recompressing the gas. In such cases,
it is possible to strike an economic balance between the cost of a larger pipe to min-
imize the pressure drop and the cost of additional compression. Figure 7.4 is an
approximation that attempts to strike this balance by showing acceptable pressure
drop versus operating pressure. In most production facility lines, Figure 7.4 has little
significance since the bulk of the pressure loss is due to a pressure control valve, and
the size and operating pressure of the compressor are not affected by the incremental
pressure drop in the line. Equation 7.4 and Figure 7.4 can be used to use a pipe diam-
eter directly. Equation 7.4 is given as
Field units:

1260STfQ2g
d5 (7.4a)
PP=100ft:

SI units:

STfQ2g
d 5 8:186  105 (7.4b)
PP=100ft:

where
d pipe inside diameter (in. (mm)),
S specific gravity of gas relative to air,
478 Surface Production Operations

## Figure 7.4 Acceptable pressure drop for short lines.

(Courtesy of Paragon Engineering Service)

T temperature (R (K)),
fm Moody friction factor, dimensionless,
Qg gas flow rate (MMSCFD (m3/h)),
P pressure (psia (kPa)),
P/100 ft. desired pressure drop per 100 ft. (psi (kPa)).

7.1.4.2 Velocity
7.1.4.2.1 Maximum velocity
Maximum velocity: The gas velocity should be kept below 60-80 ft./s (18-24 m/s)
so as to minimize noise and to allow for corrosion inhibition. In systems with CO2
present in amounts as low as 1-2%, many operators limit the velocity to less than
30-50 ft./s (9-15 m/s). Field experience indicates that it is difficult to inhibit to inhibit
CO2 corrosion at higher velocities.

## 7.1.4.2.2 Minimum velocity

Minimum velocity: A minimum velocity of 10-15 ft./s (3-4.5 ft./s) is recommended to
minimize liquid settling out in low spots.
Choosing a line size and wall thickness 479

## 7.1.4.2.3 Erosional velocity

Erosional velocity: Although the erosional criteria were derived for two-phase flow, it
should be verified that these criteria are still met as the liquid flow rate approaches
zero. Erosional velocity due to small amounts of liquid in the gas can be calculated
from Equation 7.5:
Field units:

 1
TZ 2
Ve 0:6 Ce (7.5a)
SP

SI units:

 1
TZ 2
Ve 0:644 Ce (7.5b)
SP

where
Ve erosional velocity (ft./s (m/s)),
Ce empirical constant, dimensionless,
T temperature (R (K)),
S specific gravity of gas relative to air,
P pressure (psi (kPa)),
Z gas compressibility factor.

For most instances, with pressures less than 1000-2000 psi (7000-14,000 kPa), the
erosional velocity will be greater than 60 ft./s (18 m/s), and thus, the erosional criteria
will not govern. At high pressures, it may be necessary to check for erosional velocity
before sizing lines for 60 ft./s (18 m/s) maximum velocity.
Gas velocity can be determined from Equation 7.6:
Field units:

Qg TZ
Ve 60 (7.6a)
d2 P

SI units:

Qg TZ
Vg 122:7 (7.6b)
d2 P

where
Qg gas flow rate (MMSCFD (std m3/h)),
T temperature (R (K)),
d pipe inside diameter (in. (mm)),
P pressure (psia (kPa)),
Vg gas velocity (ft./s (m/s)),
Z gas compressibility factor.
480 Surface Production Operations

## Derivation of Equation 7.6 (field units):

Converting velocity into oil field units,
Q
V
A
and

d 2
A
4144
     
1  106 SCF day h 14:7 TZ
Q Qg
MMSCF 24h 3600s P 520

substituting

60Qg TZ
V (7.6a)
d2 P
where
Qg gas flow rate (MMSCFD),
Q gas flow rate (ft.3/s),
A pipe cross-sectional area (ft.2),
V gas velocity (ft./s),
Z gas compressibility factor, dimensionless,
P pressure (psia),
T temperature (R),
d pipe inside diameter (in.).

## 7.1.5 Two-phase flow line sizing

Flow lines from wells, production manifolds, and two-phase gas/liquid pipelines are
sized as two-phase lines. Gas outlets from separators or other process equipment contain
small amounts of liquids but are not considered two-phase lines. Liquid outlets from sep-
arators or other process equipment are usually considered single-phase liquid lines, even
though gas evolves due to both the pressure decrease across a liquid control valve and the
pressure loss in the line. The amount of gas evolved in liquid outlet lines rarely will be
sufficient to affect a pressure loss calculation based on an assumption of liquid flow.
A relatively large pressure drop is needed to evolve enough gas to affect this calculation.

## 7.1.5.1 Pressure drop

Since most two-phase lines operate at high pressure within the facility, pressure drop
usually is not a governing criterion in selecting a diameter. However, pressure drop
may have to be considered in some long lines from wells and in most two-phase
gas/liquid pipelines.
Choosing a line size and wall thickness 481

7.1.5.2 Velocity
7.1.5.2.1 Minimum velocity
Minimum velocity: A minimum velocity of 10-15 ft./s (3-4.5 m/s) is recommended so
as to keep liquids moving in the line and to minimize slugging of separator or other
process equipment. This is very important in long lines with elevation changes.

## 7.1.5.2.2 Maximum velocity

Maximum velocity: The maximum velocity is equal to 60 ft./s (18 m/s) for noise and
30-50 ft./s (9-15 m/s) if it is necessary to inhibit for CO2 corrosion or the erosional
velocity, whichever is least.

## 7.1.5.2.3 Erosional velocity

Erosional velocity: In two-phase flow, it is impossible that liquid droplets in the flow
stream will impact on the wall of the pipe causing erosion of the products of erosion.
This is called erosion corrosion. Erosion of the pipe wall itself could occur if solid
particles, particularly sand, are entrained in the flow stream. The following guidelines
from API RP 14E should be used to protect against erosion corrosion. Erosional veloc-
ity usually governs the sizing of two-phase flow lines. The general erosional velocity
is expressed as
Field units:

Ce
Ve 1
(7.7a)
m 2

SI units:

Ce
Ve 1:22 1
(7.7b)
m 2

where
Ve erosional flow velocity (ft./s (m/s)),
C empirical constant, dimensionless,
m mixture density (lb/ft.3 (kg/m3)).
It can be shown that the minimum cross-sectional area of pipe for a maximum allow-
able velocity can be expressed as
Field units:
2 3
ZRT
9:35 +
6 21:25P7
a4 5Q1 (7.8a)
1000Vmax
482 Surface Production Operations

SI units:
2 3
ZRT
9:35 + 3:24
6 P 7
a 29:694 5Q1 (7.8b)
Vmax

where
a minimum required cross-sectional area (in.2 (mm2)),
Ql liquid flow rate (BPD (m3/h)),
Vmax maximum allowable velocity (ft./s (m/s)),
Z gas compressibility factor,
R gas/liquid ratio (std ft.3/bbl (std m3/m3)),
P pressure (psi (kPa)),
T temperature (oR (K)).

Equation 7.8 can be rearranged and solved for pipe inside diameter:
Field units:
2  312
ZRT
6 11:9 + 16:7P Q1 7
6 7
d6 7 (7.9a)
4 1000Vmax 5

SI units:
2  312
ZRT
6 11:9 + 4:13 Q1 7
6 16:7P 7
d 5:4486 7 (7.9b)
4 Vmax 5

Figure 7.5 is a chart developed to minimize the calculation procedure. One must be
careful when using this chart as it is based on the assumptions listed in the chart. It is
better to use Equations 7.7 and 7.9 directly as follows:
(1) Determine m.
(2) Determine the erosional velocity, Ve, from Equation 7.7.
(3) For the design, use the smaller of Ve or that velocity required by the noise or CO2 inhibition
criteria.
(4) Determine the minimum ID from Equation 7.9.
(5) Check pressure drop, if applicable, to make certain there is enough driving force available.
Derivation of Equations 7.8a and 7.9a (field units)
From previous derivations,
Q a
A and A
V 144
and
 
  Qg TZ
Q 6:49  105 QL + 0:327
P
Choosing a line size and wall thickness 483

## Operating pressure, psia

Gas/liquid ratio, ft.3/ barrel

## Pipe sizing to avoid erosional velocities

for continuous two-phase flow
Based on Vo=100/
e v f
l m d f
t lb/ft3.
t
s g
s g
f s
c

## Pipe cross-sectional area, in.3/1000 barresls fluid per day

Figure 7.5 Gas/liquid ratio as a function of pipe cross-sectional area for different operating
pressures.

1  106 Qg
R
QL

substituting
 
5 RTZQL
6:49  10 QL + 0:327
106
A
V
Substituting and factoring out QL, then multiply top and bottom by 1000:
2 3
ZRT
9:35 +
6 21:25P7
a4 5Q1 (7.8a)
1000Vmax

2  32
1

ZRT
6 11:9 + Q1 7
6 16:7P 7
6
d6 7 (7.9a)
7
4 1000Vmax 5