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ABSTRACT The paper describes the tao-phase vertical-lift lunctlon, explains the hydraulics of natural flow, flow through orifices, sumnlarlzes outlines t ~ o - p h a s e methods for estimating individual well capabilities, and includes approximations for solutlon of naturalflow and gas-lltt problenls for tubing of the 1.66-, 1.90-, 2.375-, 2.875- and 3.50-ln. API sizes, and crude 011s in the gravlty range from 25 t o 40 API. INTRODUCTION
Advances I n knowledge of the diHerent lifting methods do not lend theniselves to evaluation qulclily or i n slmple econoniic ternis. I n the aggregate, however, they constitute the necessary b a s ~ sfor in~provedl l f t ~ n g p o l i c ~ e sand profitabilities, wherever oil is r a ~ s e d . Production by natural flow rightly tops the llst of llftlng methods, inasmuch a s it produces more 011 than all other methods con~blned. It proceeds with n ~ l n i n ~ ucost n ~ In relatlve absence of operating diffis relinquished finally In an atnlosphere culties; and 1 charged with regret, and supercharged with explet i v e s intended to fortify the conclusion that the stoppage 1s an irreversible act of Providence. Nevertheless, production men have been haunted for years by the thought that a more defin~teknowledge of flowlng performance would suggest means of resuming flow after premature stoppages, permit more effective well control, more appropriate How-string selections, and serve In general to Increase the proportion of oil quantities economically recoverable by natural flow. bevelopment of organized information on v e r t ~ c a l flow has been s o far a matter of slow growth. A presentatlon in 1930 of the baslc theory by the late Professor boctor J. Versluys' prov~dedan initial impetus for current developments, but h a s been applied only to a liniited extent because of practical difficulties in evaluating factors which appear in the Versluys differential. An Interesting attempt to solve the problem of t testing flow through short two-phase vertical l ~ f by (67-ft) tubes was reported in 1931 by 1. V. Moore and H, 1). Uilde.' Failure of this project to provide the deslred generalization seems attr~butableto use of tube lengths s o short that representative condltions were not attained. kemler and Poole,' in a pawells presented before the American per on flow~ng Petroleunl Institute I n 1936, developed a limited correlation between gas-llquid ratlo and pressure drop per unit of tublng length, and explained a niethod of estinratlng flowing Ilfe. The work of C. J. May and A. Laird4" resulted in vertical-l~ft peneralizations well adapted to predlct results within a restricted range of condltlons. The interesting paper by Poettn~an and Carpenter6 appeared subsequent to the tinie of derivation of the material here presented. "Gas-Llft Principles and Practices" by S. E'. Shaw,' the pioneer consultant on vertlcal flow, provides an lnterestlng discussion of gas-lift history and methods with correlations which, though limited in scope, were none the l e s s useful. Shaw's observation, that power lunctions may be applied in approximat~ng the relationships between nlininiuni gaslift Intake pressures and glven liquid production rates, has been used here. The excellent paper by L. C. Babsone added considerably to knowledge of vertical Bow, particularly in the range lor gas-llquld ratios greater than 2.0 Mcf per bbl. T o a large extent the present paper i s a result of reviewing Babson's data and work after addlng a considerable fund of depth-pressure information involving gas-liquid ratios l e s s then 2.0 blcf per bbl. Thus, Shah, Babson, and the late L. N. R,lerrill mentloned by Babson, provided the prior hork nlainly used In the appended correlations of vertlcal flow. It will be noted that no distinction is made here between gas-lift and natural flow. In the gas-lift How and annular flow range covered by Babson, n ~ i s t predominate and no perceptible diHerences are to be expected. hhere foam How exists, one would be led to expect son~ewhatsteeper gradients for natural
* N. V . De Bataafsche Petroleum
Maatsch~pp~, The Hague, The Netherlands Presented at the sprlng meet~ngof the P a c ~ f i c Coast D ~ s t r ~ c t , D~vls~o of n Product~on,Los Angeles, May 1954. References are at the end of the paper.
FLOWING AND G A S L I F T WELL PERFORMANCE flow than for gas-lift wlth the same total gas-l~quid ratios, because for natural flow more of the g a s would be in solution, and the ratios are small enough that the g a s in solution could be an appreciable part 01 the total available. I n any c a s e , i t may only be sald that no fimi differences between gas-lift and two-phase natural flow have been observed; and the results here presented involving foam flow are derived from flowing-well data and would therefore tend to represent foam-flow g a s requirements conservatively. The present purposes are to explain flowing and gas-lift well performance i n the light of what is now known of vertical flow, and to provide procedures and empirical correlations which have been usefully applied over a period of years i n solution of practical problems. It i s believed that the p a p h i c a l procedures suggested are ~ l d e l yadaptable. I'he gradient data, however, should be used with care and are oflered in the hope that they may encourage development of more specific data in forms readily adaptable to field use.
A PRIhlARY DISTINCTION
T o develop an understanding of the behavior of flowing and gas-lift wells, l t is essential first to recognize that there i s one s e t of conditions affecting flo~ of gas-liquid mixtures into a bore hole, an entirely different s e t of conditions affecting flow of mixtures from the bottom to the top of the well, and a third s e t affecting flow through beans at the s u r face. W e may designate the first a s "inflow performance, 1 9 the second a s "vert~cal-lift perforn~ance," and the third a s "bean performance." Inflow Perfornlance Knowledge of individual well inflow performance i s a basic necessity in equipping and operating 011 wells for n~aximumprofit under any s e t of imposed conditions. Rigorous determination of the inflow performance of a well at any s t a t e in i t s producing llfe would involve: 1. Measurement of the static pressure in the well at the midpoint of the producing interval. 2. Measurement of the mass rate of inflow of each fluid phase corrected to midpoint conditions for each of a s e r i e s of steady operating pressures measured at the midpoint. Fortunately, such detailed deternlinatlons are seldom necessary; but one or more very complete determinations in a particular field can prove helpful in de-
ciding what short-cuts and approximations are locally practicable. The liquld inflow performance of a well at any stage in i t s decline may be defined by ~ t static s pressure (in pounds per square inch) and maxirnunl inflow rate when the increment of inflow per unit of pressure or productivity index (PI, measured in barr e l s per day per pound per square inch) i s a constant. The gas-liquid ratio (GLR measured in thousand cublc feet per barrel)may be, for practical p u r poses, constant. Under such simple conditions the inflow perforn~ancecan be depicted a s shown in Fig. 1. Individual-well inflow-performance trends may be depicted a s shown in Fig. 2. T h i s latter type of graph i s useful in predicting both the timing and character of lifting changes needed to mantain production and implement the local reservoir policy. The relation between the midpoint pressure and the liquld inflow rate (inflow performance relationship, or IPH, a s mentioned later) i s not always a straight line a s shown in Fig. 1, but may be concave to the origin a s shown in Fig. 3. Even l f this curvature i s marked, it is posslble by study of a group of such curves from a given field tp develop a locally applicable nrethod of predicting the IPH from the well's static pressure and a single drawdown deterniination. Gas-liquid ratio control i s a principal factor i n development of reservoir policy. Hatios in practice are affected by cumulated withdrawals; and, at any one stage of withdrawal, they are altected by production rates, a s has been pointed out by H. J. S u l l i ~ a n . Generally, ~ of all factors bearing upon future well performance, the gas-liquid ratio is the least predictable.
z Z 0 4 z
PRODUCTION IN BID
Fig. 1-Diagram of lnflaw Performance
W. E. GILBERT
of watercut curve shown in F'lg. 1 generally indic a t e s water influx predon~inantlyfrom a relatively low-pressure source, and the cut curve in Fig. 3 a predominantly high-pressure source. Cut-cumulative curves such a s the one shown in Fig. 2, are of well-known value in estimating future oil recoveries fronr wet wells. In selecting the best operating gross rate for an helpful to plot individual wet well, it IS sometin~es the approximate water IPH from the gross IFH and two or three cuts a s indicated in E'ig. 4. However, if s p e c i d t e s t s are necessary for this purpose, it i s desirable to remember that temporary use of abnornlally high inflow rates can induce a permanent in@ GROSSLIOUID IPR
STATIC PRESSURE MAXIMUM GROSS INFLOW R A T E
GASILIOUID RATIO CURVE)
@(CUT C t z i%
CUMULATED OIL WITHDRAWALS
of Individual-well Inflow-performance Trends
There have been instances of gas-oil ratio reduct~on following a change in the tubing setting depth In flowing wells. However, the practice i s not recommended, especially i f it involves killing the well with water, inasmuch a s the change In tubing depth can have only a very minor effect of the drawdown opposite gas s a n d s for a given liquid rate; and if the water reduces gas production, i t i s likely, at the same time, to reduce the well's future oil potential. hater can be a useful agent In an oil reservoir; but on reaching the well bore, i t s usual tendency i s to mininilze flowing life, ultimate recoveries, and total profits. The operator i s fortunate when water production can be economically excluded. The type
GASlLlOUlD RATIO = 1 5 MCFIBBL
3 CORRESPONDING WATER RATES
DEFINING W A T E R IPR
LIQUID INFLOW RATE
for Outlining the Water IPR
PRODUCTION IN BID
F i g . 3-Diagram
of Inflow Performance with Curved IPR
crease in water productivity under some circunistances, e.g., if the water shut-off i s insecure, or if there is a wide disparity between water and oil viscosities, gentle formation dips, and edge water close to the bore. Lilfierential depletion i s progressive during sustained flowing periods wherever the ratio of lateral permeabilities to vertical permeabilities i s large; and interflow through the bore between producing layers takes place durlng any subsequent periods of shutdown unless a suitable mud i s spotted in the producing interval. Thus any water inflow from a relatively high-pressure source tends to seek out and enter the more depleted oil layers during a shutdown period, and with permanent injury in some fields to effective oil pernleabilities. After long pe-
an 8. 2. combined with mist flow in the center of the pipe. the sum of 1 . they will have an intake pressure of about 1. the pressure requirements for inflow and those for vertical lift are opposed to one another. 5. and 3.875-111. Santa F e . I hus.0 Mcf per bbl will have an intake pressure of about 440 psi if the tubing pressure at the surface is one atmosphere (zero gage and. For this reason. the pressure drop i n the vertical column. For any steady flowing condition. ever. differential depletion i s a factor requiring close consideration in many fields if the operator's equity in operating wells i s to be protected. a s shown at A in Fig. v ~ s c o s ~ tand y gravlty. 5. and. In single-phase horizontal flow. Vertical-lift Performance All we need know about two-phase vertical flow i s how much pressure i s required to lift the well liquid a t a given rate from a given depth with a give n gas-liquid ratio through tubing of a given size. The depth-pressure gradient i s the basic unit of two-phase vertical flow.FLOWING AND GAS-LIFT W E L L P E R F O R M A N C E 129 n o d s of flow.000-ft well for the same conditions having an intake pressure of *Grad~entspresumably are a l s o affected by many other factors lncludlng 11qu1d surface tenslon. For instance. Similarly. tubing producing 200 bbl per day with 1. d has not been found necessary to correct grad~entsfor water cuts. However.* Depth-Pressure G r a d ~ e n t s . but must in addition be sufficient to support the total weight of the compressible mixture in the pipe. of course. T h i s problem i s more complicated than the problem of single-phase flow in surface pipelines because the flow of a gas-liquid mixture. In this sense. because a pressure drop in the tubing from the bottom to the top of the well is necessary to sustain verti:a1 flow. and the absolute maximum'liquid inflow would result if zero absolute pressure could be maintained at the bottom of the well. 5. A s relative depths Increase. tubing w ~ t h1. the pressure drop across tbe bean (or orifice) at the surface is substantially equal to the difference between the well's static pressure and the flow-line pressure. each rate of liquid flow. there 1s a reasonably c l o s e correspondence between results whlch have been obta~ned In the 11ght-011 (25 t o 40 API) fields of Long Beach. vv~thoutad~ustlng for such factors. slug flow merges into foam flow. we find there i s a different depth-pressure gradient for each s i z e of pipe. rates of liquid flow. flow must cease. the rate of liquid inflow increases a s the operating pressure in a well i s reduced. the total pressure drop for a given flow rate can be represented a s so. the effective pressure dfop from the drainage radius to the bore. flowlng temperatures. . the grad~entsare Inadequate to predlct the effects of emulsions. we are dealing w ~ t h and because the input pressure must be sufficient not only to overcome flow resistance in the pipe and the bean a t tbe surface. but increases with depth. and T e n S e c t ~ o n . and solution of individual well problems i s largely a matter of having available a representative family of gradient curves covering suitable ranges of tubing s i z e s . starting a t the upper end of a gradient like that for 200 bbl per day in 2. Domlnguez. However. a s shown a t C. Canal. A large pressure at the bottom of a well facilitates vertical outflow but discourages lateral inflow. and this finally merges into singlephase flow a t the pressure beyond which all of the gas is in solution. Fig. No such convenient can be used for vertical two-phase flow because the pressure drop per unit of length i s not constant. Ventura. in proceeding to systematize field information on vertical flow for pressures l e s s than the bubble-point pressure. a two. has been described a s annular flow. resulting In slug f l o ~ . Also. and several forelgn fields.0 Mcf per bbl gasliquid ratio. At still greater depths.000ft wells with 2. many pounds per square inch per thousand feet of length. modified progressively by an upwardly moving oil film which clings to the inside surface of the pipe and increases in thickness with depth. the film becomes s o thick and wavy that it occasionally bridges across the section. and l e a s t of all in a flowing well. 5 illustrates the use of a gradient curve in determining the tubing pressure from the intake pressure. h e are not concerned here with any detailed analy s e s of the physical phenomena which cause the pressure gradients observed or derived from practical field information. Thus. when an effective compromise can no longer be made by adjustment of controllable factors.875-in. and each gas-liquid ratio. T h i s film. cannot be attained. in particular c a s e s . for a given production rate and ratio for a well of any depth. Generally. and gas-liquid ratios. T h i s condition. as shown a t D in Fig. and gas-l~quids o l u b ~ l ~ t ~ Howes. 5.750 psi if the tubing pressure i s 800 psi. or the intake pressure from the tubing pressure. mist flow will predominate a t the lowest pressures. as shown a t t) in Fig.or three-week shutdown can cause from 20 to 40 percent permanent reduction of the inflow capacity of a well tapping a depletiontype reservoir even if the water cut i s no greater than 5 percent. g a s gravlty. it is of interest to know that a single gradient curve represents a sequence of different types of flow.
it may only be s a ~ d they represent a fair correlation and interpretation of the 'lnformation readily available. All three q a p h s represent equivalent information: At A i s the type of graph used by Babson.*$ l'he 2. a s shown a t C in Fig. 6.000-ft wells in Ten Section F ~ e l d . The gradients for 50 bbl per day in the 2. it i s l e s s obvious that for any gas-liquid ratio and depth there i s a rate which requires minimum lifting pressure with lower rates requiring more lifting pressure because of slippage. and zero gage tubing pressure. The gradient for the optlmum gas-llquid ratlo (called optimum because it prcvldes the lowest pressure for the given rate of flow) 1s at the bottom of group A and I S marked wlth an m o w pointing t o the ratio. GILBERT 27. Several general characteristics of two-phase vertical flow may be observed at C In Fig. 6.400. For any constant gas-liquid ratlo there i s a rate of flow which requires minimum intake pressure. Further. 5-Use of Gradient Curves 1. ~ n c l . and a s e t s . Thus by using the gradient for the desired production rate and ratlo and interpolating when necessary. and gas-liqu~dratio. tubing. 6. 32.000-ft wells. They are cons~dered following in connection with estimates of the duration of flowing life. while the gas-liquid ratio s inversely related to for minimum intake pressure 1 by curve 2. In particular.875-1n. 31.and 3. 23 through of g r a d ~ e n t . Also. it may be noted that: 1. 2. we nlay estimate either the tublng pressure or the intake pressure in a well of any depth when one of these pressures i s known. a s shown at A in Fig.875-111. E. and 600 bbl per day In the other s i z e s are based upon information which is far l e s s con~plete.90-. (These observations are of Interest in connection with flowing wells because of the tendency of flowing wells to have a more or l e s s constant gas-liquid ratio a t any one tlme. c u ~ esuch *In each plate. For to 8. or in terms of intake pressure. 150. the function may be represented either in terms of intake pressure and gas-liquid ratio.0 Mcf per bbl from 8. 154-157.400. this rate of Bow for minimum pressure and the minimum pressure itself both increase a s the gasliquid ratio i s decreased a s indicated by curve 1. $ See p. group A includes gradients for gas-llquld ratios whlch a r e ' l e s s than the optimum. confining attent~on in. 23 through 27.200. the resistance factor being least important when slippage i s greatest and vlce versa.50in. they are offered In the belief that they reliably indicate the relative characteristics of each s i z e and are not likely to lead to nl~sapplications if conserthat vatively employed. 200. 30. 28. For any constant rate of flow. tubing are glven in Fig.*t and slmilar families of g a d i e n t curves for 1. 1. It i s more or l e s s obvious that the column pressure. s l z e and for 50. production rate.875-in.875-in. there i s a gasliquid ratio which prov~desminimum intake pressure. the fornl of illustration B is interesting because the ordinates and abcissae are the same a s those for the inflow performance (1PH)of a well. 6. combined with Babson's generalizations in the gaslift range. and the two types of data may thus be superimposed.66-.~ h a s funct~on e for any particular depth and tubing-outlet pressure may be constructed. 2. Empir~calgradient curves for 2. the t ~ o .390 psi will have a tubing pressure of 200 psi. However. and group B includes gradients for ratlos greater than the optimum. 1his minimum intake pressure i s directly related to the rate of flow. The grad~ents have been dlvided Into two groups slmply to avold crossing of Ilnes. However. 2. 145-149. and 600 bbl per day should not exceed 15 percent. and 33. tubing are given in Fig. a s shown at B in Fig. .375. and h ~ g h e rrates requiring more lifting pressure because of resistance. being the result of the weight of the mixture. curves for 100. gradients are based upon correlation of data with gas-liquid ratios ranglng from 0.875example. incl. t See p. $ 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 PRESSURE PRESSURE IN HUNDREDS OF P S 1 Fig.4 to 2. a s those on Fig. The Two-phase Vertical-lift Functlon ' Using the process outlined in Fig. Errors attributable to the 2. in terms of Intake pressure and production rate. 100.) 2.) The form of the two-phase function i s largely the result of the Interaction of flow resistance *and s l ~ p page of g a s through the oil.130 W. i s greatest at low gas-liquid ratios. ( I h e s e o b the rate of flow a s ~ndicated servations are of interest in connection w ~ t hgaslift w h ~ c h permits control of gas-liquid ratios.
875-in.000 F t . 6-The Two-phase Vertical-lift Function for 2.FLOWING AND G A S L I F T WELL P E R F O R M A N C E 13 1 0 1 2 3 GAS I LIOUID RATIO IN M C F 1 B - 4 5 I a LlOUlD PRODUCTION IN B I D - Fig. Tubing Set (Tubing Pressure = Zero P S I Gage) at 8.
there would be very llttle tlme for slippage of g a s through the oil and the 480 hlcf per day of g a s (400 x 1. would be about 230 p s ~ .200 x 0.85 = 736. limit rates of Bow.to a mlnlmum. the intake pressure decreases.000-ft length of 2. it may be mentioned that the poorer an annulus i s as a flow section for slngle-phase flow. slippage would be obviated by extreme turbulence and the input pressure. increased by resistance.000 bbl per day. Out of the oil column the observer would s e e g a s bubbling a t the rate of about cu in.01 x 1.7 = 41. I £ pumplng of the same mixture were maintained a t 400 bbl per day.728 + 1. API tubing mounted vertically on the face of a precipice in the Hocky Mountains with s end where the a wind-swept platform at ~ t upper reader may observe results. GILBERT For the reader who finds difficulty with this s e t of facts. the smaller tubing s u e s offer the advantage of lower Intake pressures at comparatively low rates of flow.2 hlcf per bbl. per s e c (1. 7 (which was constructed from the gradlent curves of Fig. the gas-oil volun~eratio at that point belng about 213 volun~esper volume (480.2 Mcf per bbl ratlo.30-33). The input pressure would be about 150 psi. Two-phase Bean Performance "Bean" i s the 011-country term for the orifice used on the tublng outlet to control the production rate men are accustomed to of a flowlng well.000 x 1. In general. 1. 23-28.614).875-in. E. the following explanation may prove helpful: a. and the pump a t the lower end would be operating at graan input pressure approximating the l ~ q u i d dient pressure. however. say. say. ' 1 he observations sun~marizedin Par. the more effective it will be for two-phase flow In minimlzlng gas s l ~ p p a ~ e and in improving g a s utilization in the slippage range a s compared with a circular flow string of equal s e c t l o n d area.01 bbl per day of oil b. amounting to 736 psi (2.000/400 x 5. c. because the l ~ q u l d alone would fill the pipe in l e s s than 45 min. especially for the higher gasliquid ratios.440 x 60 = 0. with an i n j e c t ~ o nrate of 4.2 = 480) accompanying the oil would soon produce an oil mlst around the top of the pipe.440 400 x 172. the liquid level would appear a t the upper platforn~after about 115 days (2. Product~on .8). Imagine for this purpose a 2.000 F t w i t h Z e r o T u b i n g Pressure depth wlth an educter of any s l z e or type and any given outlet pressure. However. d. The smaller s i z e s .24).1).433 x 0.000 0. l a s 0.7 = 115. 0. (2. Taklng the i n ~ t l a rate with the 1.7+). Annular flow i s not treated here.01 x 172. from a starting point with zero g a s when welght and the the pressure 1s the sum of the l l q u ~ d l i q u ~ dflow r e s ~ s t a n c e . if we hold the liquid rate constant and increase the gas-llquid ratlo.000 x 0. Now. 7-comparison from of T u b i n g S i z e s for V e r t i c a l .85 gravlty and g a s with a constant ratlo of.132 W. kiost of the gas punlped Into the tubing durlng the 115-day period would have slipped out of the column by the time the level of the mixture reached the observation platform. 1 and 2 apply In general to two-phase v e r t ~ c a lflow from any Y1 rm 200 m LIQUID PRODUCTION IN B / D I 400 F i g . Similarly. of low and therefore tend to prolong the flowing l ~ f e gas-l~quidratio wells. l h e relative effects of the difierent tubing s l z e s are indicated In Fig. and a special-type pump station a t i t s lower end capable of continuously injecting oil of.l i f t 5. Last. and then increases steadily for greater ratios due to increasing resistance accon~panyinghigher fluid v e l o c i t ~ e s .
100. 10 illustrates the part . gas-liquid ratios are reported bnly to the nearest 50 or 100 cu ft per bbl and are frequently difficult to determine because of fluctuations which occur In many wells.e. For reasons of thls kind. and 400 bbl per day. 200. in psig r = gas-liquid ratio. 10.the p e r formance of ''/. Directions for use of this chart with examples are given on p.-in.0 hlcf per bbl gas-liquid ratio were then plotted starting with the known intake pressures for 0 . Fo. in bean s i z e can effect an error of 5 to 20 percent in pressure estimates. pressure diagram of Fig. in sixty-fourths of an inch ' Approximate solutions for any one of the lour variables when the other three are known. 9. or flow-line. no fornrula could be expected to maintain a 100 percent correspondence with observed data at individual wells even though it correctly correlated the variables involved. 50.. Field men usually try to avoid operation in this range because fluctuations of line pressure affect the well's operation.. the formula applies for tubing pressures at l e a s t 70 percent greater than the line pressure. sures in the range from zero to 70 percent greater than line pressure. tublng pressures l e s s than 70 percent greater than the line pressure. 29. Flowing-well Performance Individual well problems in natural flow may be analyzed quite simply by graphical means. The intersections of these gradients at the surface establish the tubing pressures which the well will sustain. The gradient curves B for 2. 151.FLOWING AND G A S L I F T WELL P E R F O R M A N C E selecting bean s i z e s for particular wells on a trialand-error b a s i s and no correlation for two-phase flow through beans has been generally applied. In the type of formula used. In this figure. An error of '/. 9-Performance Pressures More than of ''4. In many c a s e s . it i s assumed that actual mixture velocities through the bean exceed the speed of sound. The constant (435) used in the formula i s based upon Ten Section data with beans of the types shown in Fig. Bean for Tubing 70 Percent Greater than the Lead-l ine Pressure 15 6 11 9 18 7 ACCURACY 7 / 40 0 20 60 80 100 PERCENT OF READINGS Fig. 29. may be made by use of Fig. the results of one sanipling from the Ten Section Field being shown in Fig. i n bbl per day 5 = bean s i z e .-in. The depth vs. -in. 8-Indicated Range of Accuracy of Bean-performance Formula (Ten Sect~on Data) in Fig. beans 1 in.89 wherern: P = tubing outlet pressure. for which condition the downstream. As an exan~pleinterpreting the forn~ula. the bean s i z e indicated by the formula will be too small for the given conditions. pressure h a s no eflect upon the tubing outlet pressure (i. 8. fio study has been made of two-phase bean performance for tubing pres-. in klcf per bbl = gross liquid. The following approximation i s derived from regularly reported daily individual well production data: P 435 r 0 5 4 6 B = s 1. pressure on the upstream side of the bean). 1hus. curve A represents the inflow p e r formance of a well with tubinglntake pressures plotted against liquid production rates. and the tubing-outlet performance may then be plotted a s shown by curve C .. in length i s illustrated 13 LlOUlD PRODUCTION IN B I D Fig. Spot readings of pressure at heading wells are not representative of daily averages. a form which has general application being shown in Fig.
and if a tendency develops to reduce the flow rate. we conclude that the well should flow a t about 96 bbl per day with a tublng pressure of about 850 psi. Thus.. Neither of these wells could be expected to maintain steady flow a t rates of l e s s than 50 bbl per day. Cons ~ d e r i n gcurves C and L).outlet curve C and the bean curve 13 change with each change in the gas-liquid ratio after the manner shown a t B in F'ig. available to increase product~onwhen the rate of flow temporarily drops below the stable equilibrium rate. but for each ratio there IS a stable equil~briumpoint. Intersection 1 provides a stable flowing condition because. a s shown i n Fig. Supenniposlng the perfornlance curve I) for a ''/. progressively dlmlnishes a s the bean s i z e i s reduced below the bean s i z e which provides maximum tubing pressure. curve C may be obtpned dlrectly iron. Both the tubing . although they both would produce satisfactorily a t h ~ g h e r rates. In each of these c a s e s a temporary displacement of the flowing rate generates a press sure differential which returns the well to ~ t equilibriumproducing condit~on. 11. 10-Diagram of Flowing-well Performance points. 1 and 2. a ''/. 12. bean. considering the bean-performance intersections with the tubing-pressure curve for 1. liowever. the well develops a higher tubing pressure than the bean requires. bean provides Fig.-in.600 cu ft per bbl at B In Fig. 13. the bean imposes more pressure resistance than the well can sustain. 12. 11-Diagram S I A K FUESlR€ # PSI = ZYI) INROW RATE IN BID = YX) W l W U D RATK) IN M C F I B B L = 2 UOUDWGT INPSIPER 100 Fl = 3 8 nu illustrating Equilibrium Conditions a t the Well Head (For same w e l l as shown I n Fig. The relationship between bean s i z e and production rates i s of the type shown at A in Fig. 12. Two similar curves derived from wells where several bean s i z e s were used over a short period of time (6 months or l e s s ) are shown In Fig. GILBERT played by gradients in flowlng-bell perforniance. 10) ratlo. E.. it will be seen that there are p o s s ~ b l eequllibr~un~ eaamAL W U DATA PRODUCTION IN BID Fig. T h i s limited explanation assumes a constant gas-liquid 0 100 200 300 400 PRODUCTION IN B I D Fig. depending upon the direction of the initial displacenlent. if a tendency develops to increase the flow rate.134 W. Intersection 2 i s an unstable equilibrium point because any temporary displacement brings into action a pressure d i f f e r ential which increases the displacement.-in. 12-Effect of Gas-liquid Ratio on E q u i l i b r i m Production Rates . curve A by subtracting the total gradlent pressure for each of several rates of flow. The reason for t h i s limitation l i e s in the fact that the differential pressure. and causes the well either to flow faster or to die.
Nhether or not this IS the best procedure depends upon the well's future capabilities a s judged from data summarized in the form indicated in Fig. h e e d l e s s to say. and curves such a s those shown at B in Fig. 14-Prediction of Flowing L i f e . and for smaller beans. A procedure for this purpose was developed by h. 13-Relationship Between Production and Bean Sizes FLOWING LIFE If future IPH's estimated froni a graph such a s Fig. If thls s i z e of bean were applied to the well represented. hoodward. prepared by hlr. ~ 135 yzlJ ~ $ 1 12 N ~ Z Ggz a z<* I (+ 5 u 0 Ln a 4 4 0 0 100 200 300 PRODUCTION IN 0 I D 0 0 I00 200 300 PRODUCTION IN 0 I D rates. large difl'erential pressures are available to prevent sustained increases of production rate.s i z e ." Flow rates.* In Fig. but the differential available to prevent decreases of production rate becomes s n ~ a l l e ra s the bean s l z e i s reduced. J.FLOWING AND G A S L I F T WELL PERFORMANCE 1 6 1 6 .-in. or by flow~ngthe well intermittently for short periods a t relatively high - 2 875" TUBING AT 8000' 200 PS I TUBING PRESSURE Fig. 2. the tubing and bean perforniance curves nearly coincide and reductions in rate of flow cannot be prevented. A number of curves for the Intake pressures necessary to sustaln lift with 200 psi tubing pressure for a s e r i e s of gas-liquid ratios *Shell 011 Company maximum tubing . an estiniate can be made of flowing life. below the practical minimum for one tublng . For a 6/. the well would "head up and die. 2 are plotted for successive s t a g e s of oil withdrawal a s shown in Fig. 14.pressure. bean. 6 are superimposed. can only be maintained by use of smaller tubing. Fig. 14. the IPR's (shown a s straight lines on the left side of the figure) and the gas-liquid ratio against cumulative withdrawals (shown a t A in the figure) provide the essential well data. hoodward. the most popular procedure in handllng wells with allotnlents too small to support flow with the existing tubing s i z e i s to install nlechanical lift.
Observatrons. the llquid level IS slowly belng lowered. but where packers are not already ~nstalled. Fig. The rate of outflow IS again In balance wlth the rate of inflow. and bypassing of gas into the annulus starts repetltlon of the cycle. The tubing column IS becomlng heavler and the outflow rate IS d i m i n ~ s h i n ~ . IS flowlng at a high rate Into both the tublng and the annulus. E. 2. annulus o i l IS belng displaced Into the tub~ng. but i s also characterlst~cof many relatively new low g a s . The welght of the tubing column IS belng reduced because no further gas can be stored In the annulus. GILBERT Headrng Cycle: 1. and thls reduces the Intake pressure t o ~ t s lowest value.use of casing-actuated intermitters may be preferable.and In many Instances results in avoidable reduction of Income. The extra annulus gas has been dissipated and fluid. 7. Heading actlon of t h l s klnd can be mlnirnlzed by use of tubing-casing packers. T h l s IS not an efficient type of flow because i t produces a large proportion of the o i l wlth a deficient supply of gas and a small proportion of the o i l w ~ t h an excess supply of gas. because of the low Intake pressure. and 4. The w e l l 1s st111 producing at a low rate and the tublng column IS heavy because gas 1s beingdlverted into annulus and o i l from the annulus is belng dlverted Into the tubing. 6.136 W. Because of the bypassing of gas Into the annulus." For a short tlme the well 1s gas-lifted w ~ t h annulus gas a t a hlgh rate. type of surging is not effiThe usual practice of beanlng a well back t o a low rate of flow t o avoid t h ~ s c ~ e n t .l ~ q u ~ ratlo d wells. F l u l d IS st111 flowlng Into the well at a faster rate than ~t will flow out of the w e l l w i t h the exlsting Intake pressure. Allows gas from the annulus t o "blow around. The w e l l gas is NOT belng used t o best advantage. 15-Unsteady Natural Flow . Th~s further reduces the Intake pressure. T h l s type of flow IS c h a r a c G r ~ s t ~ of c the latter part of the flowlng l ~ f e of wells i n most areas. 3. 5.
The tubing pressure trends downward whlle fluld IS being displaced out of the annulus. lntermltters are not t o be recommended for w e l l s whlch will produce more on the pump. T o regularize and increase t h e flow of new low-ratlo w e l l s u n t l l Increase of gas r a t l o s may permlt steady flow a t deslred rates. but they are recommendable: a.Headrng Cycle: 1. A longer range IS unnecessary and often undes lrable. the motor valve closes the tubing outlet. Tublng pressures contlnue t o r i s e . flow lng Into the but flow Into the we1 l continues w l t h very l l t t l e decrease I n rate. caslng-actuated lntermitters can be used t o Increase the rate of flow and extend the flowlng I l f e of w e l l s when they reach the heading stage. When the casing pressure reaches the predetermined maxlmum. and mostly by inexpert selection of bean slze and casing-pressure ranges. the tublng IS opened by the r i s l n g caslng pressure whlch actuates the motor valve. wells w ~ t h water cuts exceeding 50 percent and w e l l s at rates exceeding 500 bbl per day. The column of gas whlch has collected I n the upper part of the tubing i s produced. r e p e t ~ t i o n of the c y c l e IS started by opening of the motor valve. T h e casing-pressure range must be large enough t o ensure a flow of gas around the foot of the tublng. lntermltters have been used t o flow w e l l s whlch would not flow wrthout an ~ntermltter. s l g n a l ~ z e d by a steady buildup In tublng pressure. Rlses as annulus gas starts t o break around the foot of the tubing. A t the start of the flowlng perlod. and the consequent r e d u c t ~ o n of pressure ensures flow of the fluld mixture In the tubing below t h l s gas column. T o Increase the rate of flow of w e l l s whlch have been beaned back t o avold heading. The caslng pressure. b. whlch IS d ~ r e c t l yrelated t o the amount of gas stored I n the annulus. 4. Fig. a l s o Increases I n response t o gas and llquld enterlng the well. and then 3. 16-Intermitter Control of Natural F l o w . 2. both gas and l ~ q u l d annulus. When the caslng pressure reaches the predetermined mlnlmum. lntermitters have been misapplied. The bean should preferably be as large as necessary t o ensure a continuous drop of casing pressure during the on-perlod (1 t o end of 3) and n o larger. Observatrons: B y regularizing flow.
it may be menhoned that observed rates of decline during natural flow are usually unreliable a s indices of the decline of well inflow capacities. which fact may suggest new forms which are equally eflective and still permlt ready means of circulating .100) of its initial maximum-rate capacity. 66 were superimposed over the IPR lines and the well's flowing progress was interpolated using the gasliquid ratio data given. it was concluded that this well would flow 120. Fig. misapplications can result from assuming that flowing decline i s representative of the decline to be expected on mechanical Ilft. and at the end of i t s flowing life. and often irregular. There are two principal sources of unsteady flow: 1. but are often l e s s accurate than casing-pressure data because they depend upon gasliquid ratios which are l e s s reliable than pressure measurements. By constructing sinlilar graphs for other tubing s i z e s . Rhen the well's progress curve becomes tangent to the IPR." but it regularizes inflow. the ment ~ i t h gas-liquid ratio i s materially s n ~ a l l e rthan the gaslift optimum for the average producing rate of the well. Incidentally. segregation of free g a s from liquid at the tubing intake. and 265. which is evident in L a P a z F'ield. cannot be measured directly. flow must cease. UNSTEADY FLOW A working knowledge of unsteady flow i s a necessary tool in maintaining desired production rates and in avoiding unnecessary stoppages. and i f not installed when the well is completed. Heading of the first type i s observable even in settled pumping wells operating wlth low-liquid volumetric-pump efficiencies and i s a relatively unimportant phenomenon. Venezuela. A normally closed motor valve is preferable for operating a well at a low p e r centage of i t s full flowing capacity and a normally operopen valve should be used for n~axin~um-rate ation. Also. However. particularly in the latter s t a g e s of flowing life. the annulus fills with gas and the casing pressure becomes a sensitive indicator of flowing performance. It may accentuate unsteadiness of the second type.5-in. n ~ a y be excluded from usual consideration inasmuch a s it cannot occur unless the well i s tapping a fissured or cavernous reservoir. E.000 bbl i n 505 days with 2.875-in. tubing. Bubble s i z e s a t the intake. Casingtubing packers obviate annulus heading i f installed at the intake.to kill the well. 16 illustrates the control function of an intermitter in this connection. pressure changes of short cyclical duration and has little effect on the continuity of production except in very weak flowing wells. Any serious errors in tubingsize selection can be avoided by applications of this procedure.375-111. if necessary. An empirical formula for estimating intake pressures from casing pressures i s given in Fig. it i s only producing about 14 percent (75 x 100/540) of i t s residual maximum-rate capacity. it will be seen that the well starts out flowing about 57 p e r cent (625~100/1. Fornlatlon heading. T h e reason for this l i e s in the fact that flowing i s a high-rate lifting method and requires greater lifting pressures as rates are reduced. . but do not serve the function of an intermitter in regularizing production a t rates below the minimum stable-flow rate. Consequently. its presence makes tubing pressures inferior to casing pressures both a s indices of operation. 15 provides diagrams illustrating heading of this type. CASING AND TUBING PRESSURES hhen g a s bubbles are large enough to escape entrainment with liquid entering the tubing. Two-phase g a d i e n t s are helpful in this connection. the danger of damaging the well by killing it with mud or water to install a packer may make alternative use of an intermitter more attractive. T h i s type of intermitting does produce oil from the well head by "jerks. without moving the tubing. bubbles of free enough to escape entraing a s at the intake are b ~ g the liquid entering the intake. Iiowever.138 W. tubing. It causes relatively small. 135. an engineer armed with simultaneous measurements of casing and intake pressures can easily determine whether or not the casingpressures of the wells in llis area are useful in estimating intake pressures. 17. Examples can easily be drawn from practice. and a s means of flow control.000 bbl in 1. in the hypothetical case of Fig. and 2.370 days with 2. the only functlon of a packer in this case IS to gulde bubbles into the tubing. segregation of free g a s from liquid in the rising fluid column. and with suitable adjustment. it reduces the range of velocities through the liner screen a s compared with unregulated heading. tubing. and Eig. of course. and 2. Gas g a d i e n t s are most likely to exist when gas-liquid ratios are on the high side and productivit i e s are small. 14.000 bbl in 415 days with use of 3. In connection with Howing life. GILBERT Heading of the second type (sometimes called annulus headingw) occurs when I.
a s indicated in Fig. the true IPR will be larger than the estimated IPH). 2. delay may diminish the possibility of successful restarting.. if casing pressures and static pressures have been carefully measured and recorded. changes . Generally. Swabbing i s definitely inferior to use of a g a s compressor for difficult restarting jobs because. and spot readings are not conclusive. a s a well declines. Incidentally. If the well d i e s a s a result of heading action. there are weak wells which can only be restarted by a procedure tailored to the requirements of the individual well and applied without unnecessary l o s s of time. 3. the following facts are often significant: 1. and by the time the production crew h a s moved to another location. RESTARTING NATURAL FLOW 1. they are candidates for immediate attention. The gas-llquid ratio typical of the well may require two or three days of operation for full development after restarting because. bypassing of g a s p a s t the intake loads the tubing with a heavy mixture from the annulus and the well dies. Thus. they can often be used to outline IPH trends in terms of withdrawals. 2 375 INCH S E T A T 8000 FT WELL DEPTH ezw n ESTIMATE THE I P R PROCEDURE 1 FROM FIG 17 P q = 1 226 P e = 1 226 (1709 P* = 2115 PSlA VI 0. Hange readings are often conclusive a s ind i c e s for operating control. GIVEN AVG CSG P R = 1709 P S I A T 250 BID STATIC PR = M O O D31 GLR = 0 7 M C F I B TUBING.oo 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 9 DEPTH I N THOUSANDS O F FEET Fig. with swabbing. it i s sometimes desirable to restart a well a s a protective measure until finallift equipment i s ready for operation. 18. the average casing pressure may be used. In connection with restarting. liquid produced into the well bore frequently invades the more active gas-producing layers and temporarily reduces effective g a s p e r meabilities. Range-indicating pressure gages are beginning to be usefully applied. i t is usually necessary to fill the annulus with gas at the desired intake pressure before stable flow can be re-established. 17-Approximate Gas-gradient Relationship Between Casing Pressure a t the Well Head and Intake Pressure at Lower End of the Tubing In many fields the IFH of a well may be estimated from knowledge of i t s static pressure plus a representative casing pressure and the corresponding liquid-production rate. tubing and casing pressures merit attention both from engineers and operating personnel. and a t the other end of the s c a l e . Even though flowing i s no longer the optlmum method. Also. reduction of the bean s i z e i s necessary to maintain stable flow.e. h s t i m a t e s of this type are in error on the conservative side ~f the annulus contains liquid (~. Strong high-pressure high-productivity wells restart when the flow valve is opened. and when they die. For heading wells. under shutdown conditions. However. + 15) 2000 2 CONNECT INTAKE P R = 2100 PS l G TO STATIC P R MAKING I P R ESTIMATE Z TUBING INTAKE) 200 400 600 800 PRODUCTION-RATE IN B ID Fig. in critical c a s e s . the well ordinarily restarts with a considerable column of liquid still remaining in the annulus. For wells without tubing-casing packers. the thought being that flowing wells do not require gaging or other individual attention except when a change occurs i n the normal range of variation of thelr tubing and casing pressures. 18-Method of Estimating IPR's from the Static Pressure and a Casing Pressure Flowing wells are not improved by periods of shutdown. use of smaller tubing or u s e of a casing pressure-actuated i n t e r mitter may be necessary if i t is desired to prolong the well's flowing life.FLOWING AND GAS-LIFT WELL P E R F O R M A N C E 139 = TUBING IN P S l A DEPTH I N THOUSANDS 1 20 U P P 110 and there is much to be said In favor of accurate reporting and control of bean sizes.
E. In each c a s e .of lift will provide optimunl results in all wells. an estimate.for lifting . For this reason g a s lift can be expected to find applications where the bore of the well is s o small a s to prevent effective gas-anchor a c ~ i o n . GILBERT must be made in small increments at weak wells because for each increase I n Intake pressure an easil y computed extra quantity of g a s must be stored in the annulus before the well's full gas-l~quidratio can be effectlve In the tubing . T o estimate the maximum-rate gas-lift possibilit i e s of a well with a given IPR at a given tubing PRESSURE H PS I GLR IN M C F l B 1 - e m z Ya 7- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 g g" Z lm E STIUNCSOF sun I N W ~ Fig. start on the optimum gradient (the one gradient in each g a p h marked with an arrow in Fig.140 W. and depth. and due process of rating .wells and methods will always be d e s i r able to niainta~n the profit margins e s s e n t ~ a in l meeting demands for oil.at the lower rate. tubing pressure. impos~tion pressure against the formation. 3033J at the given tubing pressure. 19-Illustration of the Procedure Used for Maximum-rate Gas-lift Estimates Gas 11ft i s primarily a h~gh-ratemethod and can be a final-lift method in wells tapping strong waterd r ~ v e reservoirs. B. outlines the highest-rate g a s lift possible w ~ t h the given tubing s i z e . By plotting the gas-liquid ratio for each gradient. the resulting curve. 19. A. as illustrated by experience in some Louisiana fields. Ignorance of this fact and lack of a readily available starting compressor result in premature relinquishment of natural flow In many cases. and read the Intake pressure. A s shown in E'lg. and even when standing valves and concentric or eccentric induction tubes are used. it i s only necessary to plot the intake pressure for each of a s e r i e s of rates. GAS-LIFT APPLlCATIONS It i s still true that no one method. 100 200 400 600 loo0 PRODUCTION IN B I D p $ I Fig. 21-Diagram Illustrating Some Flow and Gas-lift Alternatives (Gas-lift t u b ~ n g pressure = 100 psi) . of the required total gas-liquid ratlo i s obtained from which the well's gas-liqu~d Fig. Use of g a s a s a means of liquid 11ft 1s always attended by of some back . but i t must also be observed that formation back pressures are often unavoidable with the other forms of lift and especially when g a s accompanies the oil produced. measure down from this point the depth of the well. 23-28. even when packers are used. 20-Use of Log-log Paper for Extrapolations of the Intake Pressures and Gas-liquid Ratios of Maximum-rate Gas L i f t TOTAL G L R PERFORMANCE FROM 5000 F T WlTH 50 PSI TUBING PRESSURE R A T E WITH 2 875' (ii) \I PRODUCTION IN B I D pressure. the IPH gives and the intersect~onof this curve w ~ t h rate and lowest intake pressure attainthe h ~ g h e s t able under the given c o n d i t ~ o n sin the particular well.It i s also applicable when depth limits the relative capacities of other methods. It can have useful applicasmaller than tions when allotted rates are n~aterially inflow capacities.
T h i s observation does not hold for other g r a d ~ e n t sand their ratios. may be considered to be straight llnes on log-log paper when extrapolations are necessary.Its maximumrate gas-lift performance with a full string of each of three s i z e s i s also shown in g a p h C and correspending gas requirements are shown in graph U.66-in. a s indicated by the smaller of the two tubing-pressure curves in graph C.25 for wet gas. Flg. Input gas temperature. It 1 s here suggested that thls 1 s the horsepower upon which quotatlons should be based w ~ t h the glven 7. gradients for 0. Such a well with a full string of 2. M = Mcf per day at 14. 2. Graph A shows 2. Incidentally.the same pressure at the depth at which a juncture between s i z e s takes place.66-in. with use of improved gradient data. Input pressure. tubing would be nearlng the end of i t s flowing life. and both installation costs and the proportion of total horsepower needed for startlng can be reduced. ratlo such a s A in Fig.ratio i s subtracted to obtain the net gas-liquid ratio needed. t h ~ s formula may be written: The gas horsepower required by the gas-11ft user is: wherern. They are indispensable for starting against the high well pressures and for automatic restarting. 2. The input casing pressure for gas 11ft from 5.000-. 3. and the exemplary data provided by one manufacturer for flow of gas through surface beans do not necessarily apply without modification to other types of orifices used in a tubing string. improvements may be made in valve spacing. tubing i s 'shown in graph B. Intermitter types with standing valves have been rates of flow than those used for maintaining h ~ g h e r p o s s ~ b l ewith straight gas lift In particular wells.000-. However.4 Mcf per bbl. pressure ratio. a demand will develop for accurate determination of pressure l o s s e s through flow valves of the different types.7 PSI. using the same ratio for natural Bow or gas lift through the different s i z e s . and using . ~t seems likely that.000-. Fig. Solution of well problems uslng combination strlngs can be made by adding gradients. 19. and.000 ft would be between the intake pressure and the static gasgradient pressure shown. and the overall plant effic~ency atta~ned. The predictability of gas lift with flow valves i s not solely the responsibility of the valve manufacturer. It would flow strongly with use of a full string of 1. any extrapolation of enlpirical data must be made advisedly. and optimum gas-l~quid curves such a s the one shown in the figure. of course. the oil-country engineer T a k ~ n gk = 7. and i s introduced a s an illustration of the type of graph~cal ' analysis which may be used. 20. 21 illustrates some of the many gas-lift and flow alternatives adaptable to a given well. and 3. 22-Chart Suggested for Estimating Gas-horsepower Requirements for Gas Lifting . In order to compare g a s lift with other methods of lift In particular c a s e s . Use of a higher or lower total gas-l~quld ratlo will increase the intake pressure and reduce the liquld-production rate.875-in. Flow valves have contributed greatly to the practical utility of gas lift. the auxiliaries used. a s better gradient data become available. The well's maximum-rate gas-lift perfornlance with a 1. tubing inside 2. 2. and may be from 20 to 40 percent less than manufacturer's brake-horsepower ratings depending upon the dev~ation from Boyle's law.875-in. tubing using a compressor for starting. Both maxlmum-rate curves. Any adequate discussion of flow valves would be beyond the intended scope of this paper. but depends q e a t l y upon the deference the operator has pald to determining well data of the type indicated in Fig. as shown in E'lg. or 4.000-ft string of 1.875in.
99 (1935). T . l'he author s t a t e s ". 22 can be adapted to this purpose. Trans Am. What constitutes an excessive ratio for calculations in which P I i s substituted depends upon temperature. Mtntng Met Engrs. C. Certainly. yet often fails to realize that the conserhe conservavation of energy i s equally important. and particularly since this outline was con~pletedduring the w r ~ t e r ' sstay in their California area. F Gas-lrft Prrncrples and Practrces. G. k a y . Houston. The blultiphase Flow of Gas. in the range of 0. C. the conservation of nature's energy in producing oil becomes as important a s any other phase of conservation or economies. It w ~ l lbe r e c o g n i ~ e d that this i s the pressure range where bean s i ~ ies most critical-a slight error often results in killing the well. 011. . C. 1herefore.. May. \hat effect does viscosity have on the equation for the bean s i ~ e . 266 (1939). In actual practice.142 W. 1 tion of energy leads to a conservation of petroleum and increased recovery. Znst. P I i s meaningless for calculations involving retrograde condensate wells which make significant volumes of water.5 to 5 centlpolses within the flow string. they also may be Inclined to agree that some simplificat~on would serve to promote conlpressor s a l e s for gas lift In competition ~ith other lifting means. P e t Tech. R. and Carpenter. Trans Anr. . and fluid characteristics. Poettmann. a s well a s helpful graphs. In s o doing. and Poole. ' DISCUSSION . V. E. J.Drtllrng and Productton Practrce. Gulf Publishing Company. C T h e Range of Appllcatlon of Gas-llft Methods. J . Paul G. 140 (1936). and Wllde." or IPH. Drrlltnh and Productron Practtce. Sheldon ( 1 he Ohio Oil Company. J and Laird." l h i s difTiculty nlay be overcome by observing the decline in potential or productive capacity with time." l h l s paper represents.elation? hould the rapid change of slope in the viscositypressure curve at lower pressures explain the sensitivity of flow volume to changes in bean s i z e at these pressures? Perhaps the onussion of a viscosity function in the bean sue-pressure equation would explain the author's point that the equation cannot be used at pressures l e s s than 70 percent greater than l ~ n e pressures. ~ CONCLUSION 1he material presented here is ofleredas an i n t e r in) report on a phase of production operations deserving uider attention than i t has been accorded in the past. Although n~anufacturersmay regard this suggestion a s an over-simplification. REFERENCES 'Versluys. 103 (1937). kloore. S. Students of this will agree with the author i s "a phase of production operations dethat t h ~ s serving wider attention than it has been accorded In the past. P o s s ~ b a l ~formula of the type given In Fig. H. It i s desired to thank the Shell Oil Company for making the presentation possible. 257 (1952). (Petroleum Development and Technology) 296 (193 1). and water in a tubing string. Shaw. rates of decline during natural flow are usually unreliable a s indices of the decline of well inflow capacities. .Dnllrng and Productton Practrce. Trans Am Znst Mrnrng Met Engrs (Petroleun~Developnlent and Technology) 114. 1he temperature of power gas. A Prellmlnary Investlgatlon of Flowlng PJells. Sullivan. Emory. depending upon temperature and composition. 'A. the mass rate of inflow of s 1 s each phase i s usually replaced by the PI. gas. and Uater through Vertlcal Flow S t r ~ n g swlth Appllcatlon t o the Deslgn of Gas-lift Installatlons. L o s Ange. 20. D: Experimental Measurements of Shppage In Flow through Vertical P l p e s . a very useful les)(written): 1 he author has tool for the solution of problems relative to flow of 011. klathematlcal Development of the Theory of Flowing b e l l s . Cne question which occurred to nle is: Ahat effect has viscosity on the relationships developed7 It i s realized the Ten S e c t ~ o nField crude has low viscosity. J. (Petroleum Developnlent and Technology) 192 (1930). Gas-011 Ratlo Control In Flowing R'ells. Znst Mrntng Met Engrs. I h e author briefly mentions the use of the "inflow performance relationship. E. Kemler. T e x a s . and usually the gas-rate requ~rementi s estimated at standard conditions. which corresponds to the well-knonn "productivity index" or PI. Drtllrnk and Productron Practrce. pressure. A. J Efficiency of F'lowlng 'Aells. GILBERT he oil industry IS accustomed to thinking of conservation in terms of barrels of liquids or material recovered. I should like to ask the author ~f he has any data showing the effect of viscosity on the charts prepared. The Efficiency of Flowlng h e l l s .p r e s s u r e . l ' h e s e should prove especially helpful to the engineer who i s confronted with the problem of design for a tubing string in a flowing orgaslift well. 'Babson. Znst. Fred H. stands in need of a ready means oi estimating horsepower requirements. i s usually controlled by well temperatures at points of application. 1939. a pra~seworthy cqntribution to the industry. because of ~ t low s specific heat. A. he has assembled many pertinent facts. 214 (1934). Th'1 a good approximat~onwhere the water cut is not large ( l e s s than 25 percent) or the gas-oil ratio i s not excessive.
and. but in t h i s c a s e the oil v i s c o s i t y i s a t l e a s t 1 0 0 times greater than that of T e n Section crude. better s t i l l . 1. Was there a n y general conclusion indicated as to t h e optimum tubing location. the critical ratio i s about 1. H. in terms of oil withdrawals. i. T h u s . and I am g l a d h i s company provided the time for him t o a s s e m b l e it.Rlr. T h e author points out that t h e gradient curves should b e u s e d with care. . t h e energy n e c e s s a r y for the well t o flow is augmented. However. Yes. I h e IPR. If k e q u a l s 1. 2.e. T h e r e i s a wellknown formula. incipient c a s i n g l e a k s may become active under shutdown conditions ( l e a k s .7 u s e d in the report. t h e downstream pressure. I t i s believed that v i s c o s i t y e f f e c t s on flow through b e a n s will prove very minor b e c a u s e of t h e e x i s t e n c e of i n t e n s e turbulence. I belleve h e h a s had niuch of t h i s d a t a for some time. 2. they certainly provide a p i d e as t o t h e magnitude of p r e s s u r e s and volumes of g a s required t o lift oil. However. M. or a t some point above? I h e author i s t o b e commended for a n excellent paper. T h e s e a r e apparently t h e r e s u l t of t h e correlation of d a t a from many t e s t s In flowing and gas-lift w e l l s modified and extended with information of other authors. A c r e s (Sunray Oil Corp. T h e P I i s the first differential of t h e I P R in the s p e c i a l c a s e when t h e latter is a straight line. In t h i s study. I t i s t h e first treatment I have s e e n that r e c o g n i z e s n o distinction between g a s lift and natural flow.. Also. there a r e some p o s s i b i l i t i e s that damage may result in shutting down e v e n a c l e a n well which may b e r e s t a r t e d e a s i l y . Gilbert: T h e I P R and the P I a r e not equivalents. Yes. which were s e a l e d off when t h e c a s i n g w a s t e s t e d with mud in t h e well).. the minimum ratlo for which flow through n o z a l e s i s unaffecte d by po.25. A s Mr. T h e y further provide a convenient pattern t o a n operator or engineer for accumulating and presenting the r e s u l t s of h i s own well t e s t s . and t h e disparity i n c r e a s e s as flow continues. 2-Individual Well Inflow Performance Trend. which may b e plotted in terms of time. s u g g e s t e d u s e of upstream p r e s s u r e s exceeding the downstream p r e s s u r e s by a t l e a s t 7 0 percent i s b a s e d upon observation of field d a t a and rough consideration ot critical r a t i o s (values of k for oil-laden g a s were not determined).8. top of the perforations. t h e P I w a s intentionally omitted from Fig. I have s e v e r a l q u e s t i o n s t h a t I should like t o a s k Mr. i t i s preferable t o follow t h e well's inflow capacity. It i s s t a t e d that flowing w e l l s a r e not improved by periods of shutdown. T h e d e c l i n e of t h e production r a t e of a flowing well is greater than the decline of t h e well's inflow capacity. a t the bottom of the perforations. lationship between intake pressure and liquid Inflow rate. 2. i s t h e re. Where restarting is not a problem and the well i s clean. k h e t h e r they a r e completely reliable or not. available in a n y standard summary of flow of g a s e s through nozzles. d o you believe some damage may r e s u l t ? 3. T h e dangers for short periods of shutdown a r e u s u a l l y negligible. Sheldon points out. In F i g . w a s t h e productivity index omitted intentionally? - k being t h e a d i a b a t i c constant. as indicated by c u r v e s 1 a n d 2 of Fig. Gilbert. 2 in recognition of the f a c t t h a t IPR's frequently a r e curved. or. L o s Angeles) (written): l h i s paper is a n e x c e l l e n t a n a l y s i s and presentation of t h e f a c t o r s affecting t h e behavior of flowing and gas-lift wells. depth-pressure gradients some 15 percent heavier than t h o s e In t h e paper were found n e c e s s a r y for gas-011 r a t i o s up t o 1 Mcf per bbl in one field. or i s s o nearly straight t h a t i t s curvature may b e ignored. b y s o doing. a s u s e d in t h i s paper. Acres' questions: T. i t ena b l e s one t o better understand why natural Bow c e a s e s and how. the location of t h e tublng intake with r e s p e c t t o the perforations must have had t o b e considered many times. T h e g a p h i c a l methods and gradient d a t a presented provide means of predicting when the flowing life will end 1. under shutdown conditions interflow will occur i n long perforated . which may b e shown a s follows: a n d a l s o provide means of calculating p r e s s u r e s and volumes of g a s n e c e s s a r y for optimum gas-lift operation. by g a s lifting. Gilbert: Answering Mr. and p l / p o . Very roughly. some engineers may prefer t o plot t h e PI i n s t e a d of t h e maximum inflow r a t e (curve 2) if t h e well's I P R may b e taken t o b e a straight line. compared with 1. incidentally.
although some difficulty h a s been experienced with e x t e n s i o n s into the pressure range below s a y 500-400 psi. T h i s paper r e p r e s e n t s a n outstanding contribution t o the literature of flowing-well performance.875-in. Tubing and choke ~ n s t a l l a t i o n sIn flowing w e l l s a r e deserving with n respect to design a s of t h e s a m e c o n s ~ d e r a t ~ o that given t o design of sucker-rod strings. 3. However. GILBERT should contribute to further development in t h i s long-neglected area. of C a l ~ f o r n i a . 1h i s 1 s indicated In part by the very meager bibliography included in connection with hlr. I am impressed by t h e lnvestigatlon which i s summarized in hlr. Sheldon and Mr. In the i n t e r e s t s of t h e oil Industry. Mr. Gilbert's paper. In general. Minneapolis) (written):* Flowing-well performance h a s not been given t h e attention which i t s importance d e s e r v e s . E. Insertion of a length of smaller l tubing i n s i d e 3. with some degradation of ~ o t e n t i a lrecovery. for example. tublng w ~ l frequentl y s e r v e to extend natural-flow production of a n allotted rate. It 1 e x t e n s i o n s of correlations c a n b e made.C. would give better flow conditions than a uniform string. Gilbert: I value highly both Mr. Also. whenever tubing-flow gradients a r e lighter than g a d i e n t s in the liner and c a s i n g for the same r a t e s . Gilbert's paper i s a n outstanding contribution to t h l s field and should l e a d to further s t u d i e s relating t o a rational approach t o the study of flowing wells.144 W. and change of g a s liquid r a t i o s in terms of withdrawal. Gilbert: I wlsh t o thank Dr. together with the a d v a n t a g e s of postponing artificial lift a s long a s p o s s i b l e t o permit more a c c u r a t e evaluation of requirements and capacity of pumping equipment a s well as postponement of the accompanying investment.or 2. It should b e expected t h a t u s e of tapered tubing s t r i n g s . E. Mr. it i s t o b e hoped that reference material concerning the dynami c s and economics of natural flow will b e considera b l y augmented over t h e next decade. Diminishment of well I P R ' s . Kemler for h ~ s kind comments. Development of better understanding of reservoir performance. T h e methods of Poettmann and Carpenter a r e proving valuable in developing lmproved depth-press u r e d a t a in readily u s a b l e form. 13abson's opinion of the paper and the part h ~ earlier s work played in making it possible. T h e low c o s t of production by flowing. together with more r e c e n t b a s i c investigations on multiphase flow should make i t p o s s l b l e t o arrive a t a more rational approach t o t h e s t u d y of flowing wells.N. lengths. a r e f a c t o r s tending to limit the practical utility of tapered strings. However.5. but t h e paper c o v e r s almost completely t h e p r ~ n c l p l e sinvolve d In applying t h e s e d a t a t o p r a c t i c a l production problems h%. T h e s e a r e f a c t o r s b e s t judged under l o c a l conditions. i t is preferable t o s e t t h e tubing a s low a s i s c o n s i s t e n t with safety. A c r e s for their comments. T h ~ s paper c a r r i e s t h e e m p ~ r i c a l a n a l y s i s of g a s l i f t performance far beyond any prevlous work. and I believe i t may well prove t o b e t h e definitive work on the s probable that further refinements and s u b j e c t . . Alberta. I t is d e s i r e d t o thank Mr. would a l l contribute to making s t u d ~ e swhich would prolong flowing life most desirable. Babson (Union Oil Co. b e c a u s e the w e l l will flow longer and a t higher r a t e s than would b e t h e obtainable with a shallower setting. E. C a l g a r y . there may b e some significance in t h e f a c t that flowing ret consequentq u i r e s very little s p e c i a l e q u ~ p m e n and l y h a s lacked t h e extra stimulus of englneering attention accorded by t h e supply industry t o other methods of lift. Canada)(written):* A s one who b a s had a l i t t l e experience wlth the empirical approach t o gas11ft problems. It *Prepared following presentation of the paper. in clean w e l l s with undersaturated crude there IS no s p e c i a l point in s e t t l n g t h e tubing below the depth where a l l the g a s remains in solution over the full range of desired operating rates. If natural flow is in a s e n s e t h e "orphan child" among lifting methods. Kemler (University of Minnesota. Gilbert's paper. the a n a l y s i s of two-phase flow through b e a n s (chokes) given in the paper d o u b t l e s s c a n be improved.
23-Approximate Depth-pressure Gradients for 2. Tubing .FLOWING AND G A S L I F T WELL PERFORMANCE 145 Fig.875-in.
W. GILBERT GRADIENT PRESSURE IN PSI Fig. Tubing . E.875-in. 24-Approximate Depth-pressure Gradients for 2.
FLOWING AND G A S L I ~ T ' WELL P E R F O R M A N C E GRADIENT PRESSURE I N P S I Fig. Tubing .875-in. 25-Approximate Depth-Pressure Gradients for 2.
Tubing . GILBERT Fig. 26-Approximate Depth-pressure Gradients for 2. E.W.875-in.
875-in.FLOWING AND G A S L I F T WELL P E R F O R M A N C E GRADIENT PRESSURE IN PSI Fig. Tubing . 27-Approximate Depth-pressure Gradients for 2.
800-psi line. g o vertically t o the s l a n t i n g 10-bean line and then horizontally t o t h e v e r t i c a l 200 bbl per day line in P a r t I. or enter P a r t I1 of t h e chart if t h e tubing pressure and bean s i z e a r e known. Solutzon: Slnce the formula i n d i c a t e s that there i s a straight-line relationship between tubing press u r e and barrels per day. t o the 10-bean line in P a r t I1 and thence vertically to the 13-bean line. correcting r e s u l t s for other bean s i ~ e s . Solutzon. F i r s t find in P a r t I1 of the chart. E s t i m a t e Tubing P r e s s u r e E s t a b l i s h t h e performance of a 13 bean for 0.8 ratlo. At t h i s point the gas-liquid ratlo i s about 1.530 bbl per day. F o u r v a r i a b l e s are considered.400 c u f t per bbl on t h e prevlous gage. bean operating with a tubing p r e s s u r e of 7 2 0 p s i a t 200 bL1 per day.4 hlcf per bblthe estimated production rate being found t o b e 1. In construction.-in. What i s the probable production r a t e ? Sohtzon: Enter P a r t I and g o horizontally from t h e intersection of the 1 0 0 bbl per d a y and 4. E s t i m a t e B e a n S i z e A well h a s been operating for a n extended period a t 200 bbl per d a y and 4. a n d when three of t h e s e v a r i a b l e s are known. An ' in. the pressure 1 s found t o b e 605 p s l and for any production rate with the 1 3 bean and 0. 2. E s t i m a t e Production R a t e After a bean change.In solving for a n y one of t h e four variables. What s i z e bean should be u s e d ? 1. from which t h e total g a s i s 360 Mcf per d a y (200 x 1. bean should b e used.0 r a t i o l i n e s t o the 10-bean line in P a r t I1 and thence 4 . vertically t o the horizontal 1.0 Mcf per bbl ratio. 3.8 hlcf per bbl. P a r t I of the chart r e p r e s e n t s the performance b e a n and P a r t I1 i s simply a means of of a ''/. 29.8). 200 bbl per day. E s t i m a t e Gas-liquid R a t i o or t h e G a s R a t e Suppose we have a well equipped with a '%. I ' h e further procedure in solving for e a c h variable may b e b e s t explalned by examples.03. a new well which showed a ratio of 1.FLOWING AND GASLIFT WELL PERFORMANCE USE O F BEAN-PERFORMANCE CHART A g a p h i c a l means of e s t ~ m a t i n g the bean performance is given in F i g . s a y . only one point need be established.-in. T h u s . the fourth may b e estimated. No differential recording meter h a s been i n s t a l l e d a n d a n e s t i m a t e of the g a s production i s desired. . It is desired to reduce the rate t o 1 0 0 bbl per d a y and the tubing outlet performance curve Indicates t h a t t h e tubing pressure a t t h i s rate will be 1. then g o horitontally to 1.8 ratio and. going h o r i ~ o n t a l l y from the intersection in P a r t I of the 0. i s flowing through a 4 0 bean with 7 5 0 p s i tubing pressure. enter P a r t I if both the barrels per d a y and t h e g a s l i q u i d ratlo a r e known.8 Mcf per bbl. the tubing pressure i n p s i is equal t o the barrels per d a y multiplied by 605/200 or 3. the intersection of the line for the 15 bean a t 7 2 0 psi.800 psi. 4. Solutzon: Enter P a r t I1 a t t h e intersection of the 40-bean and 750-psi l i n e s and g o vertically to t h e 1 0 line.
29-Bean-performance Chart . E. GILBERT PRODUCTION IN BID Fig.152 W.
1 1 ~ 1 1 1 1 ~ 1 1 1 : ~ 1 1 1 1 ~ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 .gMPTH SCALE IN THOUSANDS l l l l l l l l f OF F E E T @ -G W D E W S I ~ DEPTH SCALE I N THOUSANDS a A - OF FEET-@ G R A D I ~ T S U cm 0 0 8 -.
DEPTH SCALE N THOUSANDS OF RET-@ GRADIENTS DEPTH SCALE IN THOUSANDS OF FEET-@ GRADIENTS U a A 0 Y 0 Y 0 r l l l ~ l l l l l l l l l u l ~ DEPTH SCALE N T H O U S A N M O F FEET-@ GRADIENTS .
( I ) : u 3 4 n 3 Y' -.DEPTH SCALE IN THOUSANDS OF FEET-@ GRADIENTS U d DEPTH SCALE IN T H O U S A N D S O F FEET-@ d d GRADIEN~S 0 0 U 0 U 0 0 U 0 U ~ " " ' " ' " " " 1 ' " ' 1 ~ l " T l ' l ' ~ l ~ " l l ~ l l ' ~ l e 0 I % X 3 3 (0 S r! B m ( I ) : E (D 7 ? 0 k 3. n W F ' -. ? a 2 z cP < S ! . 0 C L a .
C DEPTH SCALE I N THOUSANDS Of FEET-@ GRADIENTS A A B : : " I d VI 0 3 DEPTH SCALE H THOUSANDS OF FEET-@ GUADlENTS .