Risk Analysis of Single- and Dual-String Gas-Lift Completions
- David D. Grassick (Enterprise Oil PLC) | Peter S. Kallos (Enterprise Oil PLC) | Iain J.A. Jardine (Baker-Jardine and Assocs. Ltd) | Francis J. Deegan (W.S. Atkins Engineering Sciences)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1990
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,374 - 1,419
- 1990. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.7 Pressure Management, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 2 Well Completion, 3 Production and Well Operations, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 5.5.8 History Matching, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation
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Such classic risk-assessment techniques as failure mode and effect analysis(FMEA) and fault-tree analysis (FTA) are in common use by engineers but have anumber of shortcomings. Dynamic simulation, a new computer technique, countersmany of these deficiencies by introducing a time element that accommodatesrealistic component-failure characteristics and testing and inspectionactivities. This paper demonstrates how FMEA and FTA have been used to helpdesign North Sea well completions and how dynamic simulation models complexsystems realistically to allow comparison of designs and to provide insightinto operating availability and component-testing frequencies.
Both single- and dual-string gas-lift completions are commonly used in theNorth Sea, but it is not obvious which design provides greater safely andreliability. The single completion (Fig. 1) with annular safety valve issimpler to operate and to work over, but during normal production, it has alarge volume of high-pressure gas beneath the tubing hanger that acts on thehanger, tubing spool, production casing, and wellhead seals. The alternativedual-string design (Fig. 2), in which production is routed through the longstring and injection gas through the second or short string, reduces the gasinventory above the safety valve and removes the lift-gas pressure from theannulus. It is a more complicated system to operate and to maintain, however,and it has more component parts. To assist with the selection of completiontype, a conventional risk analysis was undertaken to rank the risks associatedwith each completion during both production and workover modes and to identifycritical components to allow for possible design changes. An FMEA provided aqualitative comparison of the two designs, and an FTA quantified the risks.While these static techniques successfully identified the critical components,they could not address such problems as changes in the well system withproblems as changes in the well system with time, undetected failures, effectsof inspection and maintenance, or components with failure distributions otherthan exponential. Use of a dynamic simulator, which simulates the performanceof the completion throughout many life cycles, provided a more realistic riskassessment and allowed sensitivity tests to be performed on maintenance andtest frequencies and undetected failures. We assumed that such conditions aswater cut and reservoir pressure were identical for both completion types.Theoretically, the influence of such conditions and the effect of varyingequipment sizes can be modeled by adjusting the reliability data, but eachspecific situation requires its own analysis. Reliability data were provided byRefs. 1 and 2, in addition to some proprietary data. Uncertainties are alwaysassociated with reliability data, and the application of the data isnecessarily based on judgment. Risks expressed numerically should be treated ascomparative rather than absolute. Note that, in the static and dynamic studiespresented here, different types of failure presented here, different types offailure distributions were used because more realistic distributions dmexponential ones were available for use in the dynamic simulation.
FMEA. After definition of the two well systems to be compared (Figs. 1 and2), the first step in assessing the reliability of each system was to preparean FMEA. This involved identification of possible component failures and theirconsequences to provide a qualitative comparison of the inherent risks in eachsystem. To provide a basis for comparison of the FMEA for each well system, weprepared a list of very critical events (VCE's) prepared a list of verycritical events (VCE's) and critical events (CE's) to summarize each analysis.Events were defined as follows. VCE (Severity 1): loss of control of the well,possible loss of life, and evacuation necessary. CE (Severity 2): loss of oneor more safety barriers but not all barriers, evacuation possible, and majorworkover required. possible, and major workover required. Comparison of VCE'sand CE's for each system provided a qualitative assessment as to which systemwas likely to be more or less hazardous.
FTA. FTA techniques previously applied to well-completion designs were usedin this study to provide a quantitative comparison of different designs. TheFTA is based on the component identification carried out in the FMEA, but theFTA differs from the FMEA because it is a top-down approach. Therefore, the topevent of interest (i.e., catastrophic wellhead-system failure) is defined and alogic tree is constructed of lower-level failures until the component-failurelevel is reached at the bottom of the tree.
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