• Rheology of waxy crude oils in relation to restart of gelled pipelines

      Fakroun, A.; Benkreira, Hadj (Elsevier Ltd, 2020-01-16)
      Waxy crude oils are pumped hot but upon power cut, pumping stops, the oil cools leading below the wax appearance temperature to precipitation of the wax and the formation of a gel throughout the pipe. In such a situation, what is the minimum pressure required to restart flow, not to merely deform the gel or break it? This paper provides a solution to this problem using microscopic observations under controlled cooling conditions and rheological data conducted in constant stress mode under controlled temperature and cooling conditions and restart experiments in laboratory pipelines replicating the rheometric conditions and deviations from them to inform large diameter operation in the field. Three important findings derive from the experimental data collected: (i) A fragmentation stress , rather than the static stress that precedes it, is found to be the more accurate predictor of flow re-start pressures; (ii) Waxy crude oils gels exhibit true yield stress and yielding process but also show flow on application of the slightest stress below yielding; (iii) This flow, in the elastic region, is jagged rather than continuous suggesting a consolidation process of the crystals and their agglomerates forming the gel. In the broader context of the existence of a yield stress, the data presented here show that there is such a thing as a yield stress and the concepts of a yield stress and that everything flows are not mutually exclusive.