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The length change or force induced by the piston effect is caused by pressure ch

anges inside the annulus and tubing at the packer, acting on different areas (Fi
g. 1). The length and force changes can be calculated as follows:
Fig. 1 Areas acted upon by pressure in the tubing and the annulus.
RTENOTITLE....................(1)
and RTENOTITLE....................(2)
where ?L1 = length change because of the piston effect, F1 = force change becaus
e of the piston effect, L = tubing length, E = modulus of elasticity (30,000,000
for steel), As = cross-sectional area of the tubing wall, Ap = area of the pack
er bore (values for common sizes can be found in Table 1), Ai = area of the tubi
ng ID, Ao = area of the tubing OD, ?pi = change in tubing pressure at the packer
, and ?po = change in annulus pressure at the packer.
Table 1-Area Of Packer Bores
Note that the length change ?L1 is a product of L/EA s and the piston force (F1)
. The piston force is the sum of two pressures acting on two areas one for the tub
ing and one for the annulus. The area acted upon by changes in pressure in the t
ubing is the cross-sectional area between the area of the packer bore and the ar
ea of the tubing ID in square inches (Ap Ai). The area acted upon by changes in p
ressure in the annulus is the cross-sectional area between the area of the packe
r bore and the area of the tubing OD in square inches (Ap Ao).
Fig. 1(a) shows a large-bore packer with a tubing string that has both a smaller
OD and ID than the packer bore. In this instance, annulus pressure causes downw
ard force, while tubing pressure causes an upward force. For a small-bore packer
, this situation is reversed (Fig. 1(b)). The force greatest in magnitude will d
etermine the resulting direction of action. An accurate schematic of the tubing
and packer bore for each case should be made for proper determination of areas,
forces, and the resulting direction of action.
It is possible to eliminate the forces generated on the tubing string by the pis
ton effect by anchoring the seals in the packer bore. In a string that is restra
ined at the packer from movement in either direction, the piston effect on the t
ubing string is zero. All the forces are now being absorbed or contained complet
ely within the packer.
Buckling Effects
Tubing strings tend to buckle only when the internal tubing pressure (pi) is gre
ater than the annulus pressure (po). The result is always a shortening of the tu
bing string, but the actual force exerted is negligible. The decrease in length
occurs because of the tubing string being in a spiral shape rather than straight
. The tubing-length change is calculated with the following: