Fluid density and viscosity measurements are crucial to oil and gas operations, impacting activities across the exploration, production, and transportation sectors. A fluid’s viscosity determines the pressure required to transport it through a pipe with given dimensions, with more viscous liquids requiring higher pressure and resulting in lower flow rates. Additionally, density measurements are key to hydraulic fracturing operations, allowing companies to determine the correct amount of proppant to use. For these reasons, both density and viscosity play a large role in the pressure balance of a production system.
In many cases, oil and gas operators can reduce a fluid’s viscosity by heating or diluting it after measuring its current properties. However, the extreme conditions of oil and gas reservoirs cause difficulties in terms of collecting this critical data, as power shortages, space limitations, vibrations, and high pressure and temperature make the majority of laboratory-grade equipment impractical. Moreover, most lab equipment requires the collection of fluid samples, which offer little use to an operator in need of immediate measurements to aid the real-time optimization of drilling operations.
Fortunately, recent technological innovations have increased operators’ ability to measure fluid density and viscosity without traditional lab instruments. The Rheonics DV-2000 consists of a torsional tuning fork that displays varying resonant traits based on its interaction with surrounding fluid. This technology has formed the basis for a number of inline density-viscosity instruments, including the Rheonics DVM, which adds a titanium mounting and high-pressure inlet and outlet fittings to the original DV-2000 tuning fork. Using these technologies, oil and gas operators can begin to conduct critical analyses of pipeline fluids without the need for samples or cumbersome equipment.