Operational Challenges in Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) Transportation Through Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) Page: 3 of 154
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Oil production from Alaskan North Slope oil fields has steadily declined. In the near future, ANS
crude oil production will decline to such a level (200,000 to 400,000 bbl/day) that maintaining
economic operation of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) will require pumping
alternative products through the system. Heavy oil deposits in the West Sak and Ugnu
formations are a potential resource, although transporting these products involves addressing
important sedimentation issues. One possibility is the use of Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) technology.
Estimated recoverable gas reserves of 38 trillion cubic feet (TCF) on the North Slope of Alaska
can be converted to liquid with GTL technology and combined with the heavy oils for a product
suitable for pipeline transport.
Issues that could affect transport of this such products through TAPS include pumpability of
GTL and crude oil blends, cold restart of the pipeline following a prolonged winter shutdown,
and solids deposition inside the pipeline.
This study examined several key fluid properties of GTL, crude oil and four selected blends
under TAPS operating conditions. Key measurements included Reid Vapor Pressure, density and
viscosity, PVT properties, and solids deposition.
Results showed that gel strength is not a significant factor for the ratios of GTL-crude oil blend
mixtures (1:1; 1:2; 1:3; 1:4) tested under TAPS cold re-start conditions at temperatures above -
20 F, although Bingham fluid flow characteristics exhibited by the blends at low temperatures
indicate high pumping power requirements following prolonged shutdown.
Solids deposition is a major concern for all studied blends. For the commingled flow profile
studied, decreased throughput can result in increased and more rapid solid deposition along the
pipe wall, resulting in more frequent pigging of the pipeline or, if left unchecked, pipeline
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Chukwu, Godwin A.; Khataniar, Santanu; Patil, Shirish & Dandekar, Abhijit. Operational Challenges in Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) Transportation Through Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), report, June 30, 2006; Alaska. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc887153/m1/3/: accessed January 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.