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Offshore Oil & Gas Technology Artificial Lift • When a well is first complete, the fluid is expected to flow to the surface by natural reservoir energy for some time. At some time during their economic life, however, most oilwells will require some form of artificial lift to help raise the fluid to the surface and obtain the maximum recovery of oil for maximum profit to the producer. The most common methods of artificial lifts are those that use gas and those that use pumps. • Types of pumps used are: – Sucker rod pump (beam pump, rod pump, etc) – Surface hydraulic pump, – Electrical submersible pump (ESP), – Downhole hydraulic jet pump – Progressive cavity pump (PCP) • The selection and design of artificial lift systems require a prediction of the operating conditions across the entire well life. The following are considered during the selection process: – Flowing wellhead pressure or gathering system backpressure – Well productivity index and well production requirement – Water cut development, and producing gas-liquid ratio – Mixture viscosity which will affect frictional losses in the system – Reservoir pressure depletion – Casing and tubing size limitations – Environment impacts of surface system and energy input. Artificial Lift • The downhole environment and fluid characteristics also play an important role in the selection of the lift system. The following factors will influence the performance and overall reliability of the lift system, depending on the lift method selection: – Crude density and bubble point pressure – Crude viscosity and emulsification tendency, – Solution gas-oil ratio – Fluid corrosivity – Scaling tendency – Produced solids content and abrasive nature Artificial Lift Gas Lift • Gas lift is a method of injecting high-pressure gas into the casing, passing it into the tubing (through an orifice or a mechanical valve), which then aerates the fluid in the tubing, lightens the fluid column and raise the fluid by the expansion of the gas. • There are two modes of operation: “continuous gas injection” into the tubing at the predetermined depth and “intermittent” injection at high instantaneous rates for short period of time. • The system comprises: – Base packer and tubing string – Side-pocket mandrels spaced in the tubing with retrievable pressure controlled gas valves – Gas compression and distribution system. Gas lift – continuous injection Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3 rd Ed. Gas lift – intermittent cycle Gas lift system • Gas lift is commonly used when there is a large supply of gas (produced natural gas or an inert gas) is economically available. The natural gas is usually treated to remove the heavier components. • Apart from the central compressor facility (comprising mainly the compressor station, gas-oil separator and glycol dehydrator), all gas lift equipment are large downhole. Offshore oil wells that need gas lift are usually completed with gas lift valves and mandrels at different depths. • Gas lift is an inexpensive technique when many wells can be serviced by one central compressor facility. • Gas lift is a flexible method of artificial lift, but the systems are sensitive to flowing backpressure, fluids viscosity, and well productivity index. This is an optimum amount of gas injected to achieve lift and there are also limits to the system’s ability to lighten the fluid column. Gas Lift Sucker Rod Pump • Sucker rod pumps is the most common method of artificial lift. A pumping unit at the surface lifts a rod running downhole connected to a pump. Each stroke lifts a volume of fluid. The system consists of: – Subsurface pump which includes one standing valve and one traveling valve (ball and seat type non-return valves) – Sucker rod string connected to the pump downhole and to the pumping unit at surface – Production tubing and stuffing box at wellhead providing flowpath, and seal around the sucker rods to prevent leakage – Pumping unit that converts motor power through a gearbox to provide lift – Motor and sheave providing power and defining pumping speed (strokes per minute). • It is sensitive to gas at intake. Most common problems include parted rods, tubing leaks, worn pump and gas lock. Sucker rod pump Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3 rd Ed. Sucker rod pump Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3 rd Ed. How a sucker rod pump works Source: N. Hyne, Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum geology, Exploration, Drilling & Production • Electric submersible pump (ESP) uses a downhole multistage centrifugal pump driven by a downhole electric motor, and are particularly suited to high volume, high water cut lift applications. The system consists of: – A multistage centrifugal pump where the stage count defines the head generated, and the outer diameter defines capacity – A seal chamber which prevents wellbore fluids from migrating along the system shaft into the motor – An electrical cable transmitting current to the motor, and wellhead electrical penetrator – A surface transformer, motor starter/controller, junction box, and power distribution system – Production tubing and a surface production choke Electric Submersible Pump Electric submersible pump Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3 rd Ed. Hydraulic Pumps • Subsurface hydraulic pump or Hydraulic submersible pump (HSP) systems use a power fluid pumped to drive a downhole pump. The power fluid powers a downhole multistage turbine which in turn drive a downhole multistage centrifugal pump. • Downhole jet pumps use a power fluid to a drive jet pump to entrain the well fluids and pump it to the surface. A jet pump works by accelerating the power fluid to high velocity through a nozzle thereby reducing the jet’s static pressure. The reduction in the static pressure then causes the well fluid to be entrained into the mixing chamber where mixing takes place. Pressure recovery then follows in the diffuser and the combined fluids then rise to the surface. J et pump has the advantage of no moving parts and can handle liquid-gas mixtures. Hydraulic pumping system Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3 rd Ed. Reserve-flow downhole jet pump Progressive Cavity Pump • Progressive cavity pumps (PCP) are novel pumps. A ‘progressive cavity’ is created by a single helical rotor, which turns eccentrically inside a double-threaded helical elastomeric stator and moves the fluid on. The number of seal lines determines the pressure boost capabilities, and the amount of slip in the pump. Fluids viscosity and the amount of compression loaded into the fit also affect the system efficiency. • These systems are well suited to high-viscosity fluid, and can handle moderate amount of sand production. • PCPs can be configured with two different drive mechanisms. The earlier and more used method is a surface right angle drive motor coupled to the downhole pump by sucker rod. The other is to couple the PCP to a downhole motor as in the case of the ESPs. Progressive cavity pump Improved Oil Recovery • Primary recovery is recovery of oil through primary production by the original reservoir drive energy. It depends on the type of reservoir drive, oil viscosity, and reservoir permeability but averages 30 to 35% of the oil in place and can be as low as 5%. • Improved oil recovery (IOR) is any activity that increases the recovery above that of primary recovery and includes drilling extra wells, which can intersect reservoir areas that have otherwise been missed. Advance drilling techniques, e.g. extended reach and horizontal well drilling technology since 1990, and multi- lateral and multi-branch drilling technology creating multiphase drainholes from a single well since 1995, have increased reservoir exposure and improve well performance. Reservoir Recovery Mechanism Source: Dawe, Modern Petroleum Technology, Vol 1, Upstream • Improved oil recovery can be obtained by supplying energy to the reservoir. This can be done by the following means: – Secondary recovery (nowadays initiated at or near the beginning of production), which involves adding external energy but without any fundamental changes to the physical properties of the fluids. This energy is added either by water or gas injection. – Enhanced oil recovery (EOR), also known as Tertiary recovery, which involves adding external energy and creating fundamental changes to the physiochemical properties of the system, e.g. adding chemicals or heat to the reservoir to effect changes in fluid density, fluid viscosity, the interfacial forces, or to change the reservoir wettability which affects the distribution (position) of the oil, gas and water within the pores. Improved Oil Recovery Improve Oil Recovery • Secondary recovery actually consists of replacing the natural reservoir drive or enhancing it with an artificial, or induced, drive. Generally the use of injected water or natural gas into the production reservoir is the most common method. • Waterflooding is the least expensive and most widely used improved recovery method, but it is not considered an advanced recovery method because it is used typically in secondary recovery. In the method, water is injected into the formation to move oil to the production wells. Although water for injection may be supplied from water wells drilled specifically for this purpose, the water that is produced with the oil may also be used. • Regardless of whether the water is injected into formation for disposal, pressure maintenance, or waterflood, the fluid must meet certain requirements. The injection water must be clear, stable, deoxygenated and similar to the water in the formation where it is being injected. Hence, waterflood can be expensive. Waterflooding Source: N. Hyne, Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum geology, Exploration, Drilling & Production • Although secondary recovery may be attractive in theory, not all reservoirs are suitable for waterflooding, for example, if they have discontinuities such as sealing faults or high-permeability ‘thief zones’ which cannot be controlled. Selecting where to inject the water can be problematic. • Some waterfloods may take up to two years of injection before any increase in production occurs. • After a field has been in operation for some years, the wells will produce an increasingly large quantity of water (or gas), up to perhaps 99% water-cut. The field is abandoned when it becomes uneconomic to lift and process the produced fluids. At this stage, huge volumes of water have to be processed, e.g. over a 24-fold increase in water volume in going from 80% to 99% water-cut for a constant oil production rate. Improve Oil Recovery • Gas injection in secondary recovery is currently and usually only applied to reservoirs which have a gas cap where gas drive can use the effects of gravity (the density difference between the gas and the oil. • Injection gas may come from the produced oil after separation. But this gas is a marketable product and gas injection may be costly in terms of deferred revenue, as well as the required equipment costs. On the other hand, a powerful incentive for gas injection is if they is gas stranded from market due to absence of an export route, or the available pipeline already has full capacity, and when flaring is not permitted. Gas injection is also an effective way of disposing of produced gas while conserving it for future recovery. This is particularly so for gas injection offshore or in other remote locations. Improve Oil Recovery • Immiscible gas injection – uses gases that will not mix with the oil – this includes natural gas, flue gas, and nitrogen. The natural gas produced with the oil can be reinjected into the well to maintain formation pressure. Immiscible gas injected into the well behaves in a manner to that of a gas-cap drive. Gas injection requires the use of compressors to raise the pressure of the gas so that it will enter the formation. • Miscible gas injection in Enhanced Oil Recovery – uses gas which are miscible with the oil produced – includes propane, methane under high pressure, methane enriched with liquid hydrocarbons, nitrogen under high pressure and carbon dioxide used alone or followed by water. The principle of miscible displacement is to reduce or eliminate the interfacial tension forces between the displacing and displace fluids, so that the residual oil saturation in the swept zone can be reduced to near zero. Gas Injection