Review of the Factors that Influence the Condition of Wax Deposition in Subsea Pipelines

  • Koh Junyi University Brunei Darussalam
  • Nurul Hasan Universiti Teknologi Brunei


When crude oil is transported via sub-sea pipeline, the temperature of the pipeline decreases at a deep depth which causes a difference in temperature with the crude oil inside. This causes the crude oil to dissipate its heat to the surrounding until thermal equilibrium is achieved. This is also known as the cloud point where wax begins to precipitate and solidifies at the walls of the pipeline which obstruct the flow of fluid. The main objective of this review is to quantify the factors that influence wax deposition such as temperature difference between the wall of the pipeline and the fluid flowing within, the flow rate of the fluid in the pipeline and residence time of the fluid in the pipeline. It is found the main factor that causes wax deposition in the pipeline is the difference in temperature between the petroleum pipeline and the fluid flowing within. Most Literature deduces that decreasing temperature difference results in lower wax content deposited on the wall of the pipeline. The wax content increases with rising flow rate. As for the residence time, the amount of deposited wax initially increases when residence time increases until it reaches a peak value and gradually decreases. Flow-loop system and cold finger apparatus were used in literature investigations to determine the trends above. Three new models are generated through a regression analysis based on the results from other authors. These new models form a relationship between temperature difference, flow rate, residence time and Reynolds number with wax deposition. These models have high values of R-square and adjusted R-square which demonstrate the reliability of these models.


1. Reistle Jr C. Methods of dealing with paraffin troubles encountered in producing crude oil. Bureau of Mines, Washington, USA, 1928.
2. Haq MA. Deposition of paraffin wax from its solution with hydrocarbons (USMS 10541). Soc. Petro Eng 1978.
3. Huang Z, Lee HS, Senra M, Scott Fogler H. A fundamental model of wax deposition in subsea oil pipelines. AIChE Journal 2011;57:2955-64.
4. Singh P, Venkatesan R, Fogler HS, Nagarajan N. Formation and aging of incipient thin film wax‐oil gels. AIChE J 2000;46:1059-74.
5. Jennings DW, Weispfennig K. Effects of shear and temperature on wax deposition: Coldfinger investigation with a Gulf of Mexico crude oil. Energy & Fuels 2005;19:1376-86.
6. Paso KG, Fogler HS. Bulk stabilization in wax deposition systems. Energy & Fuels 2004;18:1005-13.
7. Lira-GC, Hammami A. Wax precipitation from petroleum fluids: A review. Dev Petro Science 2000;40:557-608.
8. Kelechukwu EM, Al Salim HSS, Yassin AAM. Influencing factors governing paraffin wax deposition during crude production. Int J Phy Sci 2010;5:2351-62.
9. Charlton TB, Di Lorenzo M, Zerpa LE, Koh CA, Johns ML, May EF, Aman ZM. Simulating Hydrate Growth and Transport Behavior in Gas-Dominant Flow. Energy & Fuels 2017.
10. Ji H, Chen D, Zhao C, Wu G. Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Methane Hydrate Formation and Dissociation in the Clay Pores with Fatty Acids. J Phy Chem C 2018;122:1318-25.
11. Norris BWE, Johns ML, May EF, Aman ZM. Assessing hydrate blockage risk in oil pipelines: deploying a new transient simulation capability. Int Conf Multiphase Prod Technol; Cannes, France. 2017.
12. Bassani CL, Barbuto FAA, Sum AK, Morales REM. A three-phase solid-liquid-gas slug flow mechanistic model coupling hydrate dispersion formation with heat and mass transfer. Chem Eng. Sci 2018;178:222-37.
13. Fukumoto A, Kamada K, Sato T, Oyama H, Torii H, Kiyono F, Nagao J, Temma N, Narita H. Numerical simulation of pore-scale formation of methane hydrate in the sand sediment using the phase-field model. J Natural Gas Sci Eng 2018;50:269-81.
14. Mahto V, Kumar A. Effect of several parameters on wax deposition in the flow line due to Indian waxy crude oil. Int J Appl Eng Res Dev 2013;3:1-10.
15. Cole R, Jessen F. Paraffin deposition. Oil Gas J 1960;58:87-91.
16. Bott T, Gudmundsson J. Deposition of paraffin wax from kerosene in cooled heat exchanger tubes. Canadian J Chem Eng 1977;55:381-5.
17. Nazar A, Dabir B, Islam M, editors. Measurement and modeling of wax deposition in crude oil pipelines. SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference; 2001: Society of Petroleum Engineers.
18. Creek J, Lund HJ, Brill JP, Volk M. Wax deposition in single phase flow. Fluid Phase Equilibria 1999;158:801-11.
19. Brown T, Niesen V, Erickson D, editors. Measurement and prediction of the kinetics of paraffin deposition. SPE Annual Tech Conf and Exhib; 1993: Soc Petro Engr.
20. Lund H. Investigation of Paraffin Deposition During Single Phase Flow in Pipelines. MSc. Thesis, Uni Tulsa, 1998.
21. Venkatesan R. The deposition and rheology of organic gels: University of Michigan.; 2004.
22. Agrawal K, Khan H, Surianarayanan M, Joshi G. Wax deposition of Bombay high crude oil under flowing conditions. Fuel 1990;69:794-6.
23. Hoteit H, Banki R, Firoozabadi A. Wax deposition and aging in flowlines from irreversible thermodynamics. Energy & Fuels 2008;22:2693-706.
24. Towler BF, Rebbapragada S. Mitigation of paraffin wax deposition in cretaceous crude oils of Wyoming. J Petro Sci Eng 2004;45:11-9.
25. Gooya R, Gooya M, Dabir B. Effect of flow and physical parameters on the wax deposition of Middle East crude oil under subsea condition: Heat transfer viewpoint. Heat and Mass Transfer 2013;49:1205-16.