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  Water Wetting JIP




Water Wetting Joint Industry Project (WW-JIP)

Background | Wettability Measurements | Deliverables | Papers

Please contact Luciano Paolinelli for more information on the WW-JIP.

Internal corrosion of oil and gas wells and pipelines made from carbon steel is associated with the presence of water on the pipeline surface. When the circumference of the pipe is fully coated with oil, corrosion will not occur. Increased knowledge of water wetting can increase the confidence of the corrosion engineers and operators on the integrity of the pipeline and can decrease the cost associated with corrosion mitigation.

The factors that contribute to water wetting in pipelines are both hydrodynamical and chemical. Higher oil flow rates and heavier, more viscous oils will have a less tendency for water wetting, while low oil flow rates, light oils and large diameter pipelines are associated with a greater tendency for water wetting. Furthermore, surface active components from the oil, either naturally occurring or added as inhibitors, can alter the wettability of the steel surface, so that it is less likely to be wetted with water, even under less desirable hydrodynamical circumstances.

Wettability Measurements
The Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology (ICMT) has built an extensive knowledge of the water wetting phenomena starting in 2004. In the first phases of the project, the emphasis was on two-phase oil-water flow. In the subsequent phases of the project, the emphasis has been on three-phase, oil-water-gas flow. The introduction of the third phase (gas) has a tremendous effect on the distribution of liquids on the pipe circumference and has an extensive effect on water wetting. Knowledge of the wettability of three-phase flow has a special importance for wells both horizontal and vertical as well as flow lines.

Figure 1. The three-phase flow loop is mounted on an inclinable rig, allowing for multiphase and wettability measurements at various inclinations (0°90°).

In order to investigate multiphase flows, the ICMT employs a 4" ID inclinable flow rig, which allows for measurements to be performed at horizontal, inclined or vertical orientation, in both upwards and downwards flows. The phase wetting regime (water wet or oil wet) is assessed using high frequency impedance probes and/or conductivity probes, which detect the phase in contact with the carbon steel pipe surface by means of its electrical response. Complimentary measurement techniques include fluid sampling, ER-probes, electrical impedance tomography, and measurements of changes in the concentration of iron in the water phase, which only occurs if water can wet the pipe surface.

Figure 2. The doughnut cell allows for small scale testing of wettability in two-phase oil-water flow. Animation courtesy of Dan Li.

A small-scale benchtop apparatus has been developed and tested at the ICMT to simulate pipeline flow. This apparatus is an annular flume that has been named "Doughnut Cell" and makes it possible to conduct two-phase oil-water flow testing at a much smaller scale than the flow loop testing. As an example, doughnut cell tests take only about 2 gallons of oil, compared to 850 gallons for the 4" ID flow loop test. Water wetting in two-phase system can therefore be simulated much quicker and in a much less expensive manner.


  • Improved understanding of water wetting and the key factors affecting it.
  • Full reports documenting the results, analysis and modeling, outlining future work.
  • State-of-the-art mechanistic model of water wetting in two-phase oil-water flow and three-phase oil-water-gas flows.
  • A professional stand-alone software containing the water wetting model.
  • A database of water wetting and multiphase flow data which can be made available to other software developers under by special agreement

Journal Papers

Conference Papers

Ohio University
Russ College of Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering
Institute for Corrosion

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