Surface Machinery and Methods for Oil-Well Pumping Page: 122
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122 SURFACE MACHINERY AND METHODS FOR OIL-WELL PUMPING.
PIPING HEAVY OIL.
At some of the wells in the Casmalia field, California, the oil is
very viscous, and has a gravity of 8 to 100 B. This oil can not be
transported through pipe lines unless it is heated. A 4-inch lead line
is used at the well, inside of which steam is introduced through a
1-inch line. This 1-inch steam line extends the entire length of the
lead line and heats the oil to about 2000 F., when its viscosity is
decreased so that it will run through the line. The handling of
these heavy oils is discussed in a publication of the California State
FREEZING OF PIPES.
In most of the oil fields of the United States, gathering lines for
oil and gas are laid on top of the ground. In many of the California
fields and in some of the Wyoming and the Mid-Continent fields the
gathering lines are buried. Before large pipe lines are buried the
usual practice is to paint the pipe and sometimes cover it with tar
paper. Gathering lines are, however, seldom painted and covered
with paper, although in relatively permanent installations this
would often be good practice.
Where winters are hard, if the lines are buried, they should be
placed below the frost line, or water may freeze in them and cause
trouble. When this happens, it often means that the lines must be
abandoned until the frost leaves the ground, unless they can be
thawed out with live steam.
Where it is usual to bury lines, less trouble develops from coupling
leaks caused by expansion and contraction with changes of weather.
The lines are also out of the way and do not interfere with surface
In some fields the oil-gathering lines often freeze in the winter,
especially if much water is produced with the oil, and if the lines
do not drain properly. To correct this difficulty, some operators
introduce a short length of casing in the line and place a gas burner
underneath it. This heats the oil and water and prevents freezing.
In oil fields where the gathering lines are liable to freeze during
winter it is always advisable to take full advantage of the topography
in order that the lines may drain by gravity.
Several years ago a Kansas oil company greatly improved its
system of handling oil from wells by making a topographic survey
and map of the oil-well property, after which location of the tanks
and gathering lines was changed to give a gravity system. The cost
of this change was well warranted as shown by the recovery of
" Starke, E. A., A process for reducing the viscosity of heavy oil: Third annual report
of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor of California, 1918, p. 107.
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George, H. C. Surface Machinery and Methods for Oil-Well Pumping, report, 1925; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc12407/m1/157/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.