Heavy crude oil is a highly viscous substance found in oil reservoirs that can be challenging to extract in standard conditions. It has become a significant part of natural energy resources worldwide, and challenges have arisen as new production and transport methods are developed. Southwest Research Institute is home to cutting-edge equipment to test machinery designed for heavy oil extraction.
High-Viscosity Flow Loop
Southwest Research Institute’s High-Viscosity Flow Loop (HVFL) provides real-world operational test data to better understand flow equipment performance at extremely viscous conditions. The HVFL is a highly configurable facility and is able to provide accurate fluid viscosity and flow rate to test equipment. The layout of the test facility follows general recommendations given in Hydraulic Institute (HI) testing standard 3.61 for testing electric submersible pumps (ESPs).
The HVFL can provide performance data that can be used to validate or improve hydraulic models, which are typically based on viscosity correction factors.
It can also confirm equipment performance for end-users, provide equivalent flow conditions between various equipment models as well as deliver controlled, repeatable conditions, and well instrumented assemblies that are not achievable in the field.
Additionally, the HVFL offers the following testing services:
- Multistage ESP Performance verification
- Liquid-liquid separator performance
- Static mixer evaluation
- Flow meter evaluation
- Flow vs. pressure drop determination at viscosity
- Filter media, nozzles, etc.
- Fluid characterization by onsite laboratories
- Custom test assemblies
HVFL Test Standards
The HVFL is designed to operate at these conditions; however, extended conditions are possible with facility modifications.
- Flow Rate: 5 – 1300 gpm
- Viscosity Range: 1 – 4300 cP, using refined oils
- Temperature Range: 50 – 125°F, at test equipment inlet
- Pressure Range: 5-125 psig at test equipment inlet, up to 750 psig at test equipment outlet