Trapped water displacement from low sections of oil pipelines

Guang li Xu, Guo zhong Zhang, Gang Liu, Amos Ullmann, Neima Brauner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study is motivated by the problem of pipeline corrosion due to water accumulation at low spots. Lab-scale experiments were conducted to identify the critical conditions required for the onset of water displacement by oil flow from a low horizontal section into an upward inclined section of the pipeline. Two test loops with pipe diameters of 27. mm and 41. mm I.D. with diesel flow were used. Water withdrawal from tapping valves distributed along the up-hill section enabled to follow the water displacement for oil flow rates exceeding the critical value.A model for predicting the water displacement by the oil flow, which is based on the formation of a water plug in the lowest (horizontal) section, is suggested. The predicted amounts of water withdrawn from the tapping valves favorably compare with the experimental results. Considering other competing mechanisms, up-scaling to larger pipe diameters is examined. The analysis indicates that water plug formation appears to be the controlling mechanism for water displacement also in larger pipe diameters encountered in field operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Multiphase Flow
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Inclined pipe
  • Oil-water flow
  • Pipeline corrosion
  • Water displacement
  • Water plug


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