Prediction of Pressure Gradients for Multiphase Flow in Tubing
- George H. Fancher Jr. (U. Of Texas) | Kermit E. Brown (U. Of Texas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- March 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 59 - 69
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc)
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An 8,000-ft experimental field well was utilized to conduct flowing pressure gradient tests under conditions of continuous, multiphase flow through 2 3/8-in. OD tubing. The well was equipped with 10 gas-lift valves and 10 Maihak electronic pressure recorders, as well as instruments to accurately measure the surface pressure, temperature, volume of injected gas and fluid production. These tests were conducted for flow rates ranging from 75 to 936 B/D at various gas-liquid ratios from 105 to 9,433 scf/bbl. An expanding-orifice gas-lift valve allowed each flow rate to be produced with a range of controlled gas-liquid ratios. From these data an accurate pressure traverse has been constructed for various flow rates and for various gas-liquid ratios. A comparison of these tests to Poettmann and Carp enter's correlation indicates that deviations occur for certain ranges of flow rates and gasliquid ratios. Numerous curves are presented illustrating the comparison of this correlation with the field data. Poettmann and Carpenter's correlation deviates some for low flow rates and, in particular, for gas-liquid ratios in excess of 3,000 scf/bbl. These deviations are believed to be mainly due to the friction-factor correlation. However, Poettmann and Carpenter's correlation gives excellent agreement in those ranges of higher density. This was as expected and predicted by Poettmann. He pointed out that their method was not intended to be extended to those ranges of low densities whereby an extreme reversal in curvature occurs. As a result of these experimental tests, correlations using Poettmann and Carpenter's method were established between the friction factors and mass flow rates which are applicable for all gasliquid ratios and flow rates. Definite changing flow patterns do not allow any one correlation to be accurate for all ranges of flow.
The ability to analytically predict the pressure at any point in a flow string is essential in determining optimum production string dimensions and in the design of gas-lift installations. This information is also invaluable in predicting bottom-hole pressures in flowing wells. Although this problem is not new to industry, it has by no means been solved completely for all types of flow conditions. Versluys, Uren, et al, Gosline, May, and Moore, et al, were all early investigators of multiphase flow through vertical conduits. However, all of these investigations and proposed methods were very limited as to their range of application. Likewise, many are extremely complicated and therefore not very useful in the field. Only in the last decade have any significant methods been proposed which are generally applicable. The most widely accepted procedure in industry at the present time is a semi-empirical method developed from an energy balance, proposed by Poettmann and Carpenter in 1952. Their correlation is based on actual pressure measurements from field wells. Accurate predictions from this correlation are limited to high flow rates and low gas-liquid ratios. Although this method will he discussed in detail later, it should be pointed out that two important parameters, namely the gas-liquid ratio and the viscosity, were omitted in their correlation. The viscosity was justifiably omitted since their data was in the highly turbulent flow region for both phases, and most wells fall in this category. The gas-liquid ratio was incorporated to some extent in the gas-density term. In 1954, Gilbert presented numerous pressure gradient curves obtained from field data for various flow rates and gas-liquid ratios for the determination of optimum flow strings. However, no method is presented for predicting pressure gradients except by comparison to these curves.
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