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Dynamic Pigging Modeling and Simulation of

Condensate Gas Pipelines

Conference Paper · June 2013

DOI: 10.1061/9780784413012.137


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2 authors:

Zhuoran Li Wenlong Jia

University of Houston Southwest Petroleum University


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Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1469

Dynamic Pigging Modeling and Simulation of

Condensate Gas Pipelines

Zhuoran Li1, and Wenlong Jia2

School of Petroleum Engineering, Southwest Petroleum University, No.8, Xindu
Road, Chengdu, 610500;
CNPC Key Laboratory of Oil & Gas Storage and Transportation, School of
Petroleum Engineering, Southwest Petroleum University, No.8, Xindu Road,
Chengdu, 610500;

Pigging is an effective way of removing condensate liquid and improving the
transportation efficiency of condensate gas transportation pipelines. Prediction of
pig velocity, total pigging time and slug length are of great importance for pigging
operation. The pipelines are divided into a reformation two-phase flow section,
single-phase gas section, liquid slug section and downstream undisturbed
two-phase flow section to model the pigging process. The dynamic model for
each section is built based on the mass, momentum and energy conversation
equations of the liquid and gas phase. Since the locations of the pig, liquid slug
front and reformation two-phase section front are moving, a couple of method
based on the fixed coordinate system and internal moving boundaries is applied
the pigging model. Finally, a condensate gas transportation pipeline is used to
validate the methods. The simulation results show how to predict total pigging
time, pig velocity and its position reasonably.


Condensate Gas; Pipeline; Pig; Mathematical model; Simulation


Condensate gas is a gas mixture mainly composed of methane and heavier

liquid hydrocarbon, such as n-Heptane (C7H16+). The liquid condensation easily
occurs due to the temperature and pressure variation along the pipeline.
Throughout the operation’s duration, the total liquid volume of the pipeline will
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1470

increase resulting in reduced transportation efficiency of the pipeline (Rahimpour

et al. 2013).
Pigging is an effective mechanical method for cleaning accumulated liquids in
the pipeline. McDonald and Baker (1964) pointed that a frequently pigged
two-phase gas pipeline is capable of transporting up to 70% more gas as
compared with an operation without pigging. The pipeline pig is launched from
the pipeline inlet, and it is received in the pipeline outlet catcher. It fits the inside
diameter of the pipeline and pushes the liquid along the pipeline by the pressure
difference across the pigs (Mokhatab, Poe and Speight 2006). During the pigging
process, the removed liquid will accumulate and increase in front of the pig, and a
larger pressure difference is required to push the pig. In other words, the pigging
is a dynamic hydraulic and thermal process. It is a challenge to predict the pig
speed, total pigging time and required pressure differences for researchers and
engineers (Esmaeilzadeh, Mowla and Asemani 2009).
Few researchers have studied the dynamic simulation and modeling method
for pipeline pigging. McDonald and Baker were probably the first investigators
who proposed a quasi-steady model for the pigging simulation in two-phase
pipelines (McDonald and Baker 1964). Barua introduced a liquid slug
acceleration method into dthe McDonald and Baker model (Barua, 1982). Minami
and Shoham (1995) developed a pigging model and coupled it with quasi-steady
state gas flow. They used the Eulerean-Leagrange approach to simulate the pig
moving and slug increasing in front of the pig. Meanwhile, Pauchon and Dhulesia,
Lima (1998), and Larsen also proposed their pigging models based on the Minami
and Shoham (1995) method. Recently, Xu and Gong (2005) and Xu and Li (2011)
researched simplified pigging models for horizontal pipelines by coupling the
phase behavior model with the hydro-thermodynamic model. The accuracy of the
quasi-steady state pigging models is limited, because the pigging operation is
actually a dynamic process. Differing from the above quasi-steady models, Kohda,
Suzukawa and Furukawa (1998) first proposed a dynamic simulation model based
on the two-phase drift flux dynamic method.
The purpose of this paper is to develop a dynamic model for more accurate
prediction of the pigging process than the quasi-steady state model as well as its
solution method.

Physical Model. According to the liquid distribution along the pipeline, it can
be divided into four sections as shown in Figure 1 during pigging (Xu and Li
(1) Reformation two-phase flow section (A). Although the pig removed the
condensate liquid in the pipeline, the liquid condensate in the dry pipeline once
again due to the condensate gas mixture conforms with the liquid-gas phase
equilibrium law.
(2) Single-phase gas section (B). The pig just removed the liquid in the
section, and there is not enough time for new liquid condensation. The section is
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1471

between the two-phase flow reformation section and the pig.

(3) Liquid slug section (C). Because the pig velocity is larger than that of the
liquid, the condensate liquid accumulates in front of the pig gradually. The liquid
slug will form if there is enough liquid in the pipeline.
(4) Undisturbed two-phase flow section (D). The section is downstream of
the slug section. It is similar to the steady state two-phase flow.
The flow patterns of two-phase flow reformation and undisturbed two-phase
sections can be depicted by the same model. The single-phase section and liquid
slug section are different from each other. Thus, three models should be built to
simulate the four sections.

uP uS ut uG
uB H llS ul Hl

Figure 1. Pigging physical model

Thermophysical model. The thermophysical model is used to determine the

physical parameters of the condensate gas. It is composed of a basic physical
parameters model and liquid-vapor phase equilibrium model.
The densities, compressibility factors, and enthalpies are important basic
parameters for determination of the gas and liquid mass and temperature. Those
can be calculated from composition and physical parameters models. The
composition of the gas and liquid should be obtained by the liquid-vapor phase
equilibrium model, and physical parameters models are often derived from the
equations of state (EoS), such as the Peng-Robison(PR) EoS,
Soave-Redlich-Kwong (SRK) EoS and Bennedict-Webb- Rubin-S tarling (BWRS)
EoS .
The liquid-vapor equilibrium model is used for describing the heavy
components condensation phenomenon, including the amount and composition of
liquid condensate from the gas mixture. The model is generally composed of the
mass conversation equations and thermodynamic equations in which the EOS also
is most important one. Many researchers have proved that the PR and SRK EOS
cannot predict liquid density, so the BWRS EoS is used to build the
Thermophysical model (Ali 1998).

Mathematical model for single-phase section. The single-phase gas section

only contains gas. The gas flow conforms to mass, momentum and energy
conversation law. The model can be expressed as follows (Li and Jia 2011):

∂ρ ∂
+ ( ρ v) = 0 (1)
∂t ∂x
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1472

∂ ( ρ v) ∂ ( ρ v 2 ) ∂p λ v 2
+ = − g ρ sin θ − − ρ
∂t ∂x ∂x d 2 (2)

∂Q ∂⎡ v2 ⎤ ∂ ⎡ v2 ⎤
− ( ρ v) = ⎢ ρ (u + + gz ) ⎥ + ⎢ ρ v(h + + gz ) ⎥ (3)
∂x ∂t ⎣ 2 ⎦ ∂x ⎣ 2 ⎦
where ρ is gas density, kg/m3; p is pressure, Pa; θ is pipeline slope, rad; t is time, s;
v is gas velocity, m/s; d is pipeline internal diameter, m; g is gravitational
acceleration, m/s2; x is pipeline position, m; λ is pipeline friction factor; Q is the
heat flow rate from the gas to the ambient,W; u is internal energy of gas, J/kg; h is
the enthalpy of the gas, J/kg; z is height, m.
There are five variables (ρ, p, u, h, v,) and three equations in the model, so two
additional equations are required to solve the model. The two equations are the
EoS and enthalpy equation.
P = P(ρ , T ) (4)

h = h( ρ , T ) (5)
Equations 1-5 are the basic dynamic simulation model for single-phase section.

Mathematical model for reformation two-phase flow and undisturbed

two-phase flow sections. Considering low liquid hold up, the flow pattern in the
condensate gas pipeline is the stratified flow which has an explicit interface
between the liquid and gas phase, as depicted in Figure 2. Then, we can obtain the
calculation methods of unknowns which are dependent on the constitutive
equations (Juan, 2011).

Figure 2. Stratified flow in condensate gas pipeline

Gas phase continuity equation:

∂ ∂
( ρ gψ A ) + ( ρ gψ Awg ) = Δm& gl
∂x (6)
Liquid phase continuity equation:
∂ ∂
( ρl H l A ) + ( ρl H l Awl ) = Δm& lg
∂t ∂x (7)
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Gas-liquid phase mixture energy equation:

∂ ⎡ ⎛ wg2 ⎞ ⎛ wl2 ⎞⎤
ρ ϕ
⎢ g ⎜⎜ g
A h + + gz ⎟⎟ + A ρ H L⎜ l
h + + gz ⎟ ⎥
∂t ⎢⎣
⎝ 2 ⎠ ⎝ 2 ⎠ ⎥⎦
∂ ⎡ ⎛ wg2 ⎞ ⎛ wl2 ⎞⎤
+ ⎢ Aρ gϕ wg ⎜ hg + + gz ⎟ + Aρl H L wl ⎜ hl + + gz ⎟ ⎥ + K π D (T − T0 ) = 0
∂x ⎢⎣ ⎜ ⎟
⎝ 2 ⎠ ⎝ 2 ⎠ ⎥⎦
Gas-liquid phase momentum equation:
∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂P
( ρ gϕ wg A ) + ( ρl H l wl A ) + ( ρ gϕ wg2 A) + ( ρl H l wl2 A) + A
∂t ∂t ∂x ∂x ∂x (9)
= − Fgw − Flw − ( ρ gϕ + ρl H l ) gA sin θ

In view of the slow dynamic behavior in condensate gas pipeline, we can obtain
equation (10) by ignoring velocity variation and pressure terms in equation (9):
Fgw ⎛ 1 1⎞ F
− − Fgi ⎜ + ⎟ + lw − ( ρl H L − ρ gϕ ) g sin θ = 0
Ag ⎜A ⎟
⎝ g Al ⎠ Al (10)
where, Δm& gl is mass rate of phase change from gas to liquid, (kg/s.m); Δm& lg is
mass rate of phase change from liquid to gas, (kg/s.m). HL is liquid hold up; ϕ is
gas hold up; w is velocity, m/s; Fw is wall shear force of liquid phase, N/m3; Fi is
interfacial drag force, N/m3; D is the external diameter of pipe, m; T is fluid
temperature, K; T0 is ambient temperature, K; Subscript l represents liquid, and
g represents gas.
Equations 6-10 construct the basic model for condensate gas pipe flow

Mathematical Model for liquid slug section. The mass and momentum
conservation equations are used for the liquid slug section expanding and moving
simulation. An expanding and a fixed coordinate system are chosen as shown in
Figure 1. A general mass conversation equation for the liquid slug section is as
v uv uv
dt ∫ ( )
V t
ρ dV + A t
u (
∫ ( ) −ω d A = 0
ρ )
A general momentum conversation equation for the liquid slug section is as
v v v uv uv uv
dt ∫ V (t ) ( )
ρ udV + ∫ A(t ) ρ u u − ω d A = F
where, V(t) is the volume of control volume,m3; u is the fluid average velocity in
uv uv
the control volume, m/s; ω is the surface velocity of the control volume; A is
the area of the control surface, m2; F is external force on the control volume, N
Assume the density, liquid fraction and velocity of the slug section are
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1474

independent on the time, Eq.(11) and Eq.(12) can be simplified as follows:

H ls + ( us − ut ) H l + u p (1 − E ) = 0
dt (13)

ρl us H ls ( ut − u p ) A + ρl ul ( ul − u p ) H l A = ( Pp − Pt ) A − g ρ s A sin θ ( xt − x p ) − τ sπ dLs (14)

where, A is the pipe cross area, m2; d is the internal diameter, m; x is location; E is
the pigging efficiency which is actually the gas void fraction left after the passage
of the pig. Subscript s represents liquid slug section; t represent slug front; l
represent the undisturbed two-phase flow section.
The change rate of the liquid slug length is dependent on the velocity difference
between the pig and slug front.
= ut − u p
dt (15)

Substitute Eq (15) into Eq(13), we can obtain the velocity of the slug front as
H ls u p − H Lul − u p (1 − E )
ut =
H ls − H l (16)
The following equation can be derived from the mass conversation equation by
assuming there is a little liquid slippage behind the pig.
H ls ( u p − us ) = (1 − E ) ( w p − 0 )
The velocity of the liquid slug is as follows:
⎛ 1− E ⎞
us = u p ⎜ 1 − ⎟
⎝ H ls ⎠
The pig is pushed by the gas behind it, then the pig velocity is equal to gas
velocity. In addition, the slug holdup is usually taken as a function of slug velocity
as in the Gregory correlation (Gregory 1978).
H Ls = 1.39
⎛ w ⎞
1+ ⎜ s ⎟
⎝ 8.66 ⎠ (19)
All the velocities and the liquid hold up of slug section can be obtained by
solving Eq.(16), (18) and (19). Substitute the parameters into Eq.(14), and the
pressure drop of the slug section can be obtained.

Pipeline discretization. The single-phase flow model and two-phase flow
model can be used for the dynamic simulation of the upstream of the pig and
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1475

downstream of the slug section. The liquid slug section model can simulate the
slug delivery. However, the pig, liquid slug front and reformation two-phase flow
front are moving. In the paper, the fixed coordinate system and movable internal
boundaries tracing method are used to trace the critical locations and solve the
The pipeline is discrete to a number of grids in length as shown in Figure 3.
Assume the total grids is N, and the total nodes is L1. The pig locates at xP which
is between the Jth and J+1 th boundary. The reformation two-phase flow front
locates at xB which is between the Nth and N+1th boundary. The slug front locates
at xF which is between the Mth and M+1th boundary. There are three moving grids
in the pipeline to trace all the moving boundaries.

N N+1 J J+1 M M+1

xB xP xF .
Figure 3. Discrete grids of the pipeline

At each time step, the new location of the pig is calculated by the follow equation:
x kp +1 = x kp + u kp +1Δtk (20)

u kp +1 is the velocity of the pig, m/s. Assume the pig velocity equal to the gas
velocity behind it, the following equation can be obtained:
u kp +1 = uGk +,i1
The new location of the liquid slug front is calculated by the following equation:
xFk +1 = xFk + u Fk +1Δtk
u Fk +1 is the velocity of the liquid slug front. It is calculated from Eq. (16).
The new location of the reformation two-phase section front is calculated by
xBk +1 = xBk + u Bk +1Δtk
u Bk +1 is the liquid velocity at reformation two-phase section front. It is calculated
by the two-phase flow dynamic simulation model.

Solution procedure. The total pigging simulation is determined by the pig

running time in the pipeline. In the simulation, the timed step is assumed to be
constant. The pressure, flow rate, temperature and liquid hold along the pipeline at
each timed step are calculated based on the last timed step. So, the two-phase
steady-state simulation must be carried out before pigging simulation.
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1476

At each timed step, locations of pig, liquid slug front and reformation two-phase
flow front are moving; therefore, the pigging model should be solved with the
following procedures:
Step 1: Calculate the locations of the pig, liquid slug front and reformation
two-phase flow front based on Eqs. 20-23.
Step 2: Calculate the pressure, flow rate and temperature at each grid in the
downstream undisturbed two-phase flow section by solving the
two-phase dynamic model with implicit difference method. The pressure
and temperature at the liquid slug front are the inlet boundary conditions.
The gas and liquid velocities at the pipeline outlet are the outlet
boundary conditions.
Step 3: Apply Eq. (14) to calculate the pressure drop of the liquid slug section.
Since the pressure, temperature and flow rate at the liquid slug front
have been calculated from Step 2, the pressure at the pig location can be
calculated by adding the pressure at the pipeline outlet and the pressure
drop of the liquid slug section.
Step 4: Calculate the pressure, flow rate and temperature at each grid in the
single-phase section by solving the single-phase simulation model with
implicit difference method. The pressure at the pig, the gas flow rate and
temperature at the reformation two-phase section front are boundary
Step 5: Apply the two-phase dynamic model to calculate the pressure, flow rate
and temperature at each grid in the reformation two-phase flow section.
The liquid and gas flow rate, temperature at the inlet of pipeline, and the
pressure at the reformation two-phase section front are boundary


One horizontal condensate gas pipeline in Tarim Oil Field in Western China is
used to validate the pigging model (Xu and Gong 2005). The fluid composition
and pipeline basic data are given in Tables 1 2.

Table 1. Composition of Condensate Gas

Component C1 C2 C3 iC4 nC4 iC5
mol% 88.73 7.1 1.31 0.29 0.34 0.17
Component nC5 C6 C7+ CO2 N2
mol% 0.10 0.22 0.14 0.09 1.51
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1477

Table 2. Basic parameters of the condensate gas transportation pipeline

Parameters Value
Length (km) 199
External diameter (mm) 599
Wall thickness (mm) 11.9
Wall roughness (mm) 0.02
Ambient temperature (℃) 3.0
Total thermal conductivity (W/(m2.K)) 3.0
Flow rate at input (kg/s) -90.6
Temperature at input (℃) 20.0
Pressure at input (MPa) 9.0

Since there is no practical pigging data of the condensate gas pipeline, the world
famous dynamic multiphase simulation software SPT Group OLGA 7.1 is used to
validate the model proposed in the paper.
The comparisons of the initial pressure and liquid hold up along the pipeline and
are shown in Figures 4 and 5.

Figure 4. Liquid hold up profile along the pipeline

Figure 5. Pressure profile along the pipeline

Figures 4 and 5 show the initial liquid hold up along the pipeline that calculated
by the model is slightly larger than the OLGA results. The higher liquid hold up
causes greater pressure drop in the pipeline.
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1478

Figure 6. Pig velocity vs pigging time

Figure 7. Pig position vs pigging time

Figure 8. Total liquid volume in the pipeline vs pigging time

The comparisons of the pig position, pig speed and total liquid volume in the
pipeline with time are shown in Figures 6-8 which also show that the simulation
results obtained by the model are in accordance with those calculated by OLGA
7.1. The total pigging time is slightly longer than the time calculated by OLGA.
This may be caused by the larger liquid amount in the pipeline. As can be seen in
Figure 7, the initial liquid amount is 328m3, and the liquid amount is 149m3 when
Pipelines 2013 © ASCE 2013 1479

the pig leaves the pipeline. The remaining liquid is from the reformation
two-phase flow section.

The authors used this paper to build a condensate gas pipeline pigging simulation
model. The pipeline was divided into the reformation two-phase flow region,
single-phase gas section, liquid slug section and downstream undisturbed
two-phase flow section to simulate the pigging operation. The dynamic
mathematical model for each section was built based on the mass, momentum and
energy conversation equations of the liquid and gas phase. In order to solve the
model, the locations of the pig, liquid-slug front and reformation two-phase flow
front were treated as internal moving boundaries, and the fixed coordinate system
was used to unite all four sections of the model. The solution procedures were
discussed in detail.
A horizontal condensate gas transportation pipeline in China and the dynamic
multiphase simulation software package OLGA7.1 were used for the validation of
the pigging model. The two-phase flow and pigging simulation results obtained
by the model are in accordance with those obtained by OLGA. The achievements
provide an accurate method to simulate the pigging operation of condensate gas

This research was partially funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of
China (No.51174172) and a sub-project of the National Science and Technology
major project of China (No.2011ZX05054, No. 2011ZX05026-001-07).

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