Analysis and Prediction of Minimum Flow Rate for the Continuous Removal of Liquids from Gas Wells
- R.G. Turner (Baker Oil Tools, Inc.) | M.G. Hubbard (U. of Houston) | A.E. Dukler (U. of Houston)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1969
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,475 - 1,482
- 1969. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.6.8 Well Performance Monitoring, Inflow Performance
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- 3,583 since 2007
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From an analysis of two models— in one, the movement observed is of a liquid film on the wall of a tubular conduit where the liquid is moved upward by interfacial shear, and in the other it is of the entrained liquid drops in a vertically upward flowing gas stream—it is evident that the minimum condition required to unload a gas well is that which will move the largest liquid drops that can exist in a gas stream.
Gas phase hydrocarbons produced from underground reservoirs will, in many instances, have liquid phase material associated with them, the presence of which can affect the flowing characteristics of the well. Liquids can come from condensation of hydrocarbon gas (condensate) or from interstitial water in the reservoir matrix. In either case, the higher density liquid phase, being essentially discontinuous, must be transported to the surface by the gas. In the event the gas phase does not provide sufficient transport energy to lift the liquids out of the well, the liquids will accumulate in the wellbore. The accumulation of the liquid will impose an additional back pressure on the formation that can significantly affect the production capacity of the well. In low pressure wells the liquid may completely kill the well; and in the higher pressure wells there can occur a variable degree of slugging or churning of the liquids, which can affect calculations used in routine well tests. Specifically, the calculated bottom-hole pressures used in multirate backpressure tests will be erroneous if the well is not removing liquids on a continuous basis, and gas: liquid ratios observed during such a test may not be correct.
Several authors1,3,8,14 have suggested methods to determine if the flow rate of a well is sufficient to remove liquid phase material. Vitter14 and Duggan 1 proposed that wellhead velocities observed in the field would be adequate for keeping wells unloaded. Jones8 and Dukler3 presented analytical treatments resulting in equations for calculating, from physical properties, the minimum necessary flow rate. An analysis of these studies indicates the existence of two proposed physical models for the removal of gas well liquids: (1) liquid film movement along the walls of the pipe and (2) liquid droplets entrained in the high velocity gas core. Although there probably is a continuous exchange of liquid between the gas core and the film, they will be treated separately for the purposes of this study. The development and comparison of these separate models with experimental data will permit the determination of which, if either, is the controlling mechanism for the removal of liquids from gas wells.
The Continuous Film Model
Liquid phase accumulation on the walls of a conduit during two-phase gas/liquid flow is inevitable due to the impingement of entrained liquid drops and the condensation of vapor. The movement of the liquid on the wall is therefore of interest in the analysis of liquid removal from gas wells. If the annular liquid film must be moved upward along the walls in order to keep a gas well from loading up, then the minimum gas flow rate necessary to accomplish this is of primary interest. The analysis technique used follows Dukler2 and Hewitt5 and involves describing the profile of the velocity of a liquid film moving upward on the inside of a tube. The minimum rate of gas flow required to move the film upward is then calculated.
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