You are on page 1of 10

SPE 88492

Improved Procedures for Estimating the Erosional Rates in High Offtake Gas Wells:
Application of University of Tulsa Flow Loop Derived Correlations
Ivo Terziev and Ian Taggart ChevronTexaco Australia

Copyright 2004, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.


This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and
Exhibition held in Perth, Australia, 1820 October 2004.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of
information contained in a proposal submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to a proposal of not more than 300
words; illustrations may not be copied. The proposal must contain conspicuous
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O.
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.

Abstract
High rate offtake gas and gas condensate wells require
both hydraulic and erosive issues to be addressed. The
erosional aspects are particularly difficult and require special
attention in high velocity areas if solid particles are present.
In the past, industry has attempted to handle the problem
through API-RP14E, however; this standard has been widely
accepted as conservative and physically unsound when applied
to gas or gas condensate fluids, because it does not account for
solid particle impingement. Since then, numerous models and
correlations have been developed to predict wear rates in
various tubing configurations.
The Tulsa work appears most comprehensive but there is
little published information on how to apply many of its
findings and present the results of erosional calculations in a
form suitable for well design and field development planning.
This paper uses the Tulsa erosional work and presents a
consistent methodology for predicting and displaying the
erosion rates in a number of high offtake big bore well designs
when solids production and liquid loading are present. The
ideas and procedures developed here can be used with other
wear estimation methods. The use of tolerable erosion (or
sand) rate strategy as opposed to previously adopted (and
widely used) maximum solids free rate approach is
advocated.
The difficulties with prescribing the C constant in API
RP14E are discussed and alternative derivations based on
friction factors are presented. Subsequent sections consider
examples of alternative gas well design, some of which use
big bore technology, to demonstrate an application of a staged
design process. The stages cover hot spot analysis, wear
estimates and required erosional allowances before proposing
an operating/monitoring strategy.

Introduction
In recent years, Big Bore Technology (BBT) has become a
preferred alternative in developing a large gas and gas
condensate fields1, 2, 3. The economic benefits are especially
pronounced in offshore environment where increased
hydraulic limits can effectively reduce the number of offtake
wells thereby generating significant cost savings. Relative to
smaller diameter wells, large bore wells offer the potential of
much higher hydraulic capacity and initial rates. Moreover,
even when operating at fixed lower rates they offer
substantially increased plateau times. Both of these
improvements generally result at modest cost increases over a
conventional well.
Allowing large bore wells to achieve offtake rates close to
their hydraulic limits has to face the increased exposure to
metal loss and wear that has the potential for wall breach in a
worst-case scenario, particularly if solid particles (sand) are
also present. Historically the industry has tended to rely on
modified shear stress relations, such as API RP14E, to forecast
maximum (threshold) gas velocities which would allow
continuous service. While the shortcomings of API RP14E are
well known, an integrated approach to couple completion
design, hydraulic performance and erosion management and
tolerance has proved difficult to describe and implement. The
purpose of this work is to show how the wear rates predicted
by correlations developed from the University of Tulsa can be
incorporated into production strategy based on tolerable sand
production that has made prior allowance for metal losses in
key zones.
In order to discuss the issues associated with completion
design, operating, and monitoring strategies in the presence of
solid particles, it is helpful to first present a review of key
concepts before discussing API RP14E and its range of
applicability. Following this, various models are discussed for
predicting wear rates when small amounts of solid particles
are present in the gas stream and briefly consider the major
advantages of the SPPS erosional model from Tulsa
University.
The examples chosen to illustrate the staged approach
consider well designs based on conventional 7 monobore
completion as well as two alternative designs using Big
Bore technology. Hydraulic performance and the results of
erosional calculations are displayed on a system plot of gas
rate versus well head pressure under solids free and nominally
sand free production conditions (the meaning of these terms is

defined later). Lastly, possible erosion mitigation and action


plans are considered.
Erosional Processes
Although, erosive wear cannot particularly be related to a
specific design layout, it may have higher impact on BBT
wells upsetting their primary design objective to deliver high
production rates (in excess of 300 MMscf/d) for a long period.
This is especially true if any solids/sand production is initiated
during well lifetime. Generally, for high rate gas wells, three
possible erosion mechanisms may limit the effective life of a
well:
Shear Stress Erosion
Liquid impingement erosion
Solid particle erosion
Shear stress erosion, caused by gas velocity gradients, is
generally not considered a limiting factor to obtaining high
offtake rates. Liquid impingement, either caused by water or
condensate droplets, becomes an important factor at very high
gas velocities. Liquid droplets, because of the higher densities,
cross streamlines and cause impact wear in regions of changes
in gas flow direction. Later sections, dealing with practical
levels of sand free production in candidate completion
designs, show that shear and liquid droplet erosion allow gas
velocities up to 300 ft/s to be obtained.
Solid particle erosion, in the range of gas velocities of 10100 metres/second is predominately the major erosional risk
faced by high rate gas wells. The practical risks arise because
of the relative high wear rates possible at relatively low sand
levels and secondly, because of the difficulty in accurately
monitoring sand rates at these low levels.
Solids Production from the Reservoir
Solid particles may enter the gas stream because the
producing formation, which was initially intact without sand
control devices, loses integrity and produces sand that is
entrained by the gas stream and is produced up-hole. The loss
of formation integrity is generally associated with lowering
pore pressure and/or altered capillary states (water
production). The tendency of a formation to produce sand can
be assessed by laboratory rock strength measurements and the
application of rock physics estimates. For weaker formations,
or formations that are already known or suspected to produce
sand, up-front sand exclusion devices, such as sand screens
and frac-packs may be installed. However, these devices may
have limited service life and may fail, or may have been
poorly designed with regard to size selectivity. Sand screens
are designed to allow fines, and therefore sand up to a given
size, to pass through. Consequently, even with sand control
there is always a risk of solids production.
Sand Production, Metal Loss and Wear
Solid particles are of higher density than the gas stream
and therefore cannot follow gas streamlines when rapid
changes in direction occur. Under such conditions, solid
particles collide with the wall and the resulting impact and
momentum loss causes erosion of wall coverings and
ultimately the wall itself. While turbulent fluctuations can

SPE 88492

cause particle to wall impact even in parallel flow along a


pipe, the erosional losses here are minor compared to those
obtained at a 90 degree diverter. It is common in flow loop
experiments and developed correlations to seek wear rate
estimates at elbows as a function of the solids loading and gas
velocity. Metal wear rates are generally reported in terms of
mm/year (or mils/year with 1 mil = .0254 mm) of steel. Wear
rates are a function of pipe geometry and material, gas
velocity, liquid velocity and loading, sand particle size,
geometry and loading. For gas flow rates reported at standard
volumes, gas velocity is itself a function of pressure and
temperature.
Erosional Tolerance, Total Wear and MATL
The concern with sustained erosion and metal loss is the
possible loss of containment of high-pressure gas. This occurs
when pipe walls and elbows become worn away. It is
considered acceptable for pipe fittings to lose predetermined
fraction of its wall thickness and remain in service. As noted
above the potential for wear usually refers to carbon steel
elbows, for the same flowing conditions. Therefore, practical
measures to minimize actual metal loss include:
Material changes (inconel vs. carbon steel)
Geometry changes (long radius turns and increased
diameters)
Thickness changes (plug-tees instead of elbows
and/or thicker walled pipe)
Erosional allowance means that such measures are taken
and that a maximum allowable thickness loss (MATL) has
been factored into the design.
Reservoir Operation with Solids Production Risk
Depending on the potential risk of sanding, three operation
conditions can exist:
1. Sand Free Production (SFP)
2. Nominal Sands Free Production (NSFP) defined as
sand/solid production of not more than 0.1 lb/MMscf
3. Excessive Sand Production (ESP) at levels above
0.1 lb/mmscf are outside the subject scope of this
paper
Sand free production does not require any flow rate limits
to be applied as long as the shear stress is below the critical
tubing wall shear stress and the maximum velocity does not
exceed the liquid impingement threshold (Table 1). The
second production condition entails one of the following two
control strategies 4 to be in place:
Maximum Solids Free Production (MSFP) flow
rate is limited to the level at which no sand is
produced
Tolerable Sand Production (TSP) flow rate is
limited based on tolerable erosion rate (TER) (mils/y
or mm/y)

SPE 88492

Material

Vc (ft/s)

High Alloys
410
High Alloys
295
12% Cr
390
PMMA*
682
High Alloys <230/262

Researcher
Honegger
de Haller
Baker
Hancox & Brunton
DNV RP O501 (1996)

Industry experience 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12 has shown that the


recommended constants are too conservative and higher C
values should be used. One alternative method to obtain C
coefficients is from Fanning friction factor equation.

f =

*Polymethylmethcrylate

Table 1 Liquid impingement threshold velocity


limits
For successful application of the TSP strategy, first, there
is a clear need for early sand rate monitoring systems capable
to measure solids levels at the designed limits. Furthermore,
from a design perspective, it is essential that a more
sophisticated and reliable erosion prediction model such as
SPPS (Sand Production Pipe Saver developed by E/CRC at
University of Tulsa) is used.
Experience with TSP/TER strategies
Industry experience5, 6 has suggested that wear rates of 4
mpy (0.1mm/y) can be tolerated. Conversely, some operators7
have applied more aggressive limits through erosion models
calibrated to 10 mpy (0.25 mm/y) resulting in TSP of 1.1
lb/day. According to API RP14E 8, for Carbon Steel pipe
(ASTM A106, Grade B), it is usually desirable for a minimum
corrosion/mechanical strength allowance of 0.050 in (50 mils)
to be added to the pressure designed thickness required for a
particular application. If needed, however, higher allowances
can be applied depending on the specific production
conditions. Since, TER and thickness allowance depend on
expected production life, workover strategy and wear
exposure, both limits should be evaluated in conjunction with
specific field production conditions and bases of design.

2wgc
mV 2

Rearrange and solve for velocity ( V ), one can obtain the


following expression for Vc :

2 gc w
1

f
m

Vc =

2 gc w
= 259
f

C=

Vc =

Where

(1.4)

gc = Earth gravitational constant, 32.185 ft/s^2


w = Critical wall shear stress to remove tubing
wall scales (for Carbon Steel w =20.89 lbf/ft^2)
f = Fanning Friction Factor, f = 0.02 based on water
with density of 66.58 lb/ft^3
In order to apply equation 1.3 for gas or gas condensate
flow Fanning friction factor must be calculated using one of
the three (3) formulae shown in Table 2.

Equation
Moody

Barr

In the past, erosional limits in gas wells have been


calculated using API RP14E correlation8 shown below:

(1.3)

Where

ColebrookWhite
Application of API RP-14E

(1.2)

Tubing ID
(in)
6.054*
6.054*
6.054*

Reynolds
Number

Friction factor

7.18E7**

0.0023***

7.18E7**

0.0033***

7.18E7**

0.0033***

* ID measured at TRSSV
** Based on fluid velocity of 225 ft/s, mixture viscosity of 0.02 cp and mixture density
of 8.5 lb/ft^3
*** Calculated for tubing roughness of 0.001 based on Carbon Steel tubing

Table 2: Fanning Friction Factors


1.1

Vc = maximum gas velocity


m = gas mixture density
C= empirical coefficient

The limitations and problems with applying equation 1.1 to


planned wells are mostly related to the value of the empirical
coefficient C. The API RP14E suggests values of 150 to 200
for continuous service providing sand free production and
CRA materials are employed. If, however, solids are
produced, a value of C=100 is recommended. Note that
equation 1.1 is essentially a shear-stress relation, a point
further emphasized in the next few paragraphs where Friction
factor correlations are used to derive alternative C factors.

Assuming carbon steel as a tubing material and


substituting for the friction factor (equation 1.3) with the result
obtained by Colebrook-White or Barr formulae (as more
conservative estimation) one can compute a C-factor of 638
resulting to a Vc of 219 ft/s.
Accordingly, if 13Cr or higher grade such as Stellite 12 is
identified as main material the C-factor of 620 should be
multiplied by 1.43 (13 Cr) and 55.4 (Stellite 12)13 in order to
account for the higher share stress resistance. As a result, the
erosional velocities can be increased to 313 ft/s and 12123 ft/s
respectively for clean gas service (i.e. no sand/solids
production).

SPE 88492

The equation recommended in API RP14E is valid for


fluid flow in horizontal pipe (i.e. no change in fluid potential
energy) and it assumes shear stress is the limiting factor; that
is only true for liquid flow and for clean single phase gas
flow.
In the cases of multiphase flow, the C constant should be
calculated in accordance with the flow regime (annular, mist,
etc) as the wall shear stress will vary depending on near-wall
fluid properties.
The design criterion is incapable of accounting for the
following factors:

Solid particle impingement


Liquid droplets impingement
Sand particle, size and geometry
Flow path geometry (e.g. straight tubing, elbow,
plugged tee, etc)
Therefore, its applicability should be limited to a single
phase solids free flow after proper calibration of the C
coefficient is performed.
Erosion and Wear Alternatives to API RP 14E
The
RP14E
solids:

following models provide a better alternative to API


correlation to predict wear rates in the presence of
Salama and Venkatesh correlation
Salama correlation5
ERBEND - DNV (De Norske Veritas)12
UK AEA - Harwell erosion-corrosion model 9
SPPS - E/CRC University of Tulsa model 14-18

Although, all of the above mention models calculate


erosion rate at different sand loading levels, only AEAHarwell and SPPS models utilise two-phase flow
considerations including discriminators based upon the flow
regime e.g. annular flow, mist flow, etc. Even at the same
loading levels, the gas-liquid flow regime is known to have a
large impact on predicted wear. Thus, more accurate and
physically sound erosion calculations are anticipated using
such two-phase models.
E/CRC SPPS Model
The major advantages of SPPS14 in predicting maximum
erosion rates and threshold velocity limits are:
It offers a wide range of tubing/piping materials, 29 in
total, including material used for thermal spray
coating
Computes erosion for five (5) different geometries e.g.
straight pipe, elbow, long radius elbow, direct
impingement as well as Tee junction. Other flow path
configurations such as plugged/cushioned Tee and
gradual expansion or contraction can be utilized via an
erosion correction factor option.
Takes into consideration variable sand properties e.g.
particles size, shape, density and concentration.
It can be applied for a single as well as multiphase
flow conditions at a different flow regimes (i.e.
annular flow, mist flow, etc.)

The model is calibrated against test data and technical


updates are available on regular bases.

Steps in Using the SPPS model


The SPPS model is based on a semi-empirical erosion
prediction procedure and it can be applied to a variety of
operation conditions. The key input parameters include:
Production rates and conditions
Flow conduit dimensions and geometry (from
selected list)
Solids loading and shape
The output predictions consist of:
Indications of local gas-liquid flow regime(s).
Indications of threshold velocities for a given
maximum penetration (erosion) rate
Indications of wear rate for a given production rates.

Step-by-Step Erosion Calculation


The following section describes a multi-stage method for
screening or evaluating the erosional wear potential of
different well designs. Once a candidate well design has been
selected, the first stage involves identifying those places,
which are potentially high erosion locations. The second stage
involves detailed erosion rate estimation. The last stage
requires an erosion mitigation plan that seeks to improve
erosion performance at selected locations and alter producing
rates to ensure MATL values are not exceeded.
Example Reservoir Parameters and Completion Alternatives
Examples of erosion prediction calculations will be
presented for three alternative well design configurations (Fig
1). The three well designs considered will be in order of
increasing hydraulic capacity.
Design 1 is a conventional 7 monobore well. Design 2
utilizes BBT technology, but has conventional TRSV and
Christmas tree as well as some sections completed with 7
production tubing/casing. Design 3 is a true 9 5/8 monobore
with 9 5/8 TRSV and Wellhead.
The wells are drilled and completed as single vertical
producers in a reservoir with 2 tcf reserves (CGR=10
bbl/MMscf, WGR=10 bbl/MMscf). Initial reservoir pressure
of 6500 psi and manifold/separator initial pressure (M/SP) of
2000 psi are applied. Two compression stages are considered:
the first stage brings M/SP down to 1200 psi and the second
stage lower it to 700 psi.
The flowing bottom hole pressure (FBHP) are practically
identical for each design, for the same offtake rates and within
the corresponding plateau periods (Fig 2). Although, Design 3
should have lower formation drawdown (and hence higher
FBHP) because of the larger production casing (9 5/8) used,
the difference is of small magnitude and can be ignored. Once
the production rate however, comes off plateau, pronounced
distinctions in FBHP profiles will be seen.

SPE 88492

Erosion hot-spots identification (Stage 1)


This is the first step in the erosion prediction procedure. It
involves a detailed modeling of the whole system, well
choke - manifold/separator in order to highlight the areas with
high in-situ velocities. Such velocity profiles are shown on Fig
3. Predictably, for all three (3) configurations the choke
components are the most exposed zones next to the 6 pipeline
downstream of the choke and both TRSV and wellhead
sections. For design 2, a high velocity can be expected in the
7 tubing section downstream TRSV.
For oil and gas production systems, choke components are
exposed to the highest flow velocity due to their primary
design objective to restrict the flow. If any solids/sand
particles are present, the choke will erode in a relatively short
time frame. However, because of the ability to access these
components during workovers, the potential impact on overall
production rates will be small providing an adequate workover
allowance has been planned.
Detailed choke wear calculations are not presented here;
although some mitigation plans to reduce erosion exposure will
be discussed later on, it is assumed that the component will be
replaced accordingly when erosion exceeds the designed limits.
Since gas velocity is a rate, pressure and temperature
dependant parameter, in the context of real production
conditions it will change with time. For example, the choke
size is constantly increased with declining of the WHFP in
order to maintain the required production (for a given M/CP).
As a result, flow velocity at the wellhead and the TRSV will
rise and become closer to the choke velocity. Therefore, at a
constant rate, the erosion risk for the components upstream of
the choke will increase with time and opposite the erosion risk
for the choke will decrease with time. This cycle will repeat
every time a new compression stage or separator pressure is
introduced (Figures 4 through 6).
Detailed erosion calculation (Stage 2)
An erosion calculation for the identified high risk areas can
now be performed considering SFP and NSFP production
conditions. The process requires maximum allowable
thickness loss values (MATL) to be determined in order to
derive an appropriate TER for each particular section (i.e.
tubing, crossover joints, etc.). The MATL depends on material
thickness and applied safety tolerance, and will vary for
different system components. Accordingly, the TER is a
function of both MATL and selected intervention strategy
(Table 3). For example, if the most critical component for the
system has MATL of 0.01 inch (10 mils) and scheduled
workovers on every 10 years, the adopted TER should be 1
mpy, however if 20 years intervention strategy is required
TER of 0.5 mpy should be used.
Component
Time Between
Workovers (years)
7" Tubing
9-5/8" Tubing
Crossover Joint
Wellhead

MATL (in)

0.0525"
0.0795"
0.107"
0.15"

TER (mils/y)
10

15

20

5.1
7.95
10.7
15

3.4
5.3
7.13
10

2.55
3.975
5.35
7.5

Table 3 Assumed MATL and TER values for different


system components

Knowing the TER and using SPPS, one can compute the
maximum production rate (in a context of SF and/or NSFP)
which will result in erosion less then the values listed in
Table 3.
Erosion under SF production conditions
Erosion under SF production conditions can be initiated by
liquid droplets impingement9,10,12,19 or by stripping the internal
tubing layer when the introduced shear stress exceed material
limit. The droplet erosion may occur in the crown plug of the
Christmas tree and the crossover sub when droplets collide
with the surface at velocity greater than 300 ft/s (CRA
materials)12, 19. Whereas, high shear stress, can cause damage in
the straight section of the tubing providing near wall velocity
exceed the threshold calculated using API RP14E, which for
13Cr material and above-mentioned fluid properties is
approximately 304 ft/s. If annular flow does exist inside the
entire tubing length, the shear stress should be calculated
based on superficial liquid velocity as only the liquid phase is
in contact with the tubing wall.
Using a velocity maximum of 314 ft/s and average WHFT,
the erosion limit under SF conditions can be calculated as a
function of WHFP and production rate (Fig 7). The obtained
erosion limit line(s) represents the maximum offtake rate for a
given WHFP below which erosion due to liquid impingement
or excessive shear stress will not occur (0 mpy). While, higher
velocities are possible if TERs from Table 3 are applied, all
further calculations will be limit practically to 300 ft/s.
Although, the erosion limit for Designs 1 and 2 is virtually
the same due to the similar tubing dimensions, it will have
different impact over the production rate. The advantage of the
larger tubing diameter can be illustrated when system
deliverability curves expressed through WHFP for a range of
reservoir pressures (RP) and erosion limit are plotted on a
same graph (Fig 8, 9 and 10). The points from the system
curves on the right hand side of the limit line are good for
operation whereas, those on the left hand will cause higher
then anticipated erosion.
Evidently, the higher tubing friction losses (Design 1)
results in lower WHFP limiting the offtake rate for a given
velocity threshold. Accordingly, Designs 2 and 3 have higher
limits of 400 MMscf/d and 600 MMscf/d respectively because
of the larger tubing employed in their architecture. Note that
the above-mentioned rates should be additionally restricted to
the TRSV maximum slam tested rates of approximately 400
MMscf/d for 7 TRSV and approximately 480 MMscf/d for 95/8 TRSV.
Erosion under NSFP production conditions
Under NSFP conditions, the most exposed system element,
apart from the choke valve, is the wellhead where the flow
direction changes suddenly. As a result, the solid particles
entrained in the flow can cross the streamlines and impinge
the wall causing erosion damage15,16,17.
The crossover joint is another area possessing erosion risk.
The turbulent fluctuation, as well as the mean component of
fluid velocity, provides sufficient momentum to the sand
making it to impinge and erode the wall. Since the wear
resistance of the crossover joints depends on a tapered angle,
if this angle is lowered to below 5 deg, erosive wear will be

approximately the same as for straight tubing. Then, applying


the higher TER from Table 3, it is clear that the crossover sub
will not be the rate limiting factor for Design 2 or for any
other design, as far as a low tapered angle (less than 5 deg)
and thicker wall are employed.
In the wellhead area, erosion wear predictions can be
performed using either a plug/cushion tee geometry or normal
tee model. From a flow assurance point of view, the plugged
tee is a more appropriate model. If a safety margin is to be
applied a normal tee is a more suitable geometry.
The erosion calculation procedure used for NSFP
production slightly varies from those applied under SF
environment. The difference being that under NSFP,
maximum production rate is limited by the allowable
penetration rate (Table 3) but not by a single velocity
threshold. As a result, the erosion limit when expressed as
function of WHFP and production rate will follow a curvature
trend.
Applying the TER values for the wellhead component
(Table 3) and corresponding system performance curves, three
set of erosion confines can be generate for each design
configuration. As already mentioned, the limits for Designs 1
and 2 are identical; however, the impact over the total system
performance is different (Figures 11 and 12). Design 3 (Figure
13), on the other hand is able to sustain higher rates at lower
WHFPs. This is a direct result of both, better hydraulics and
erosion resistance performance. It should, also be noted that
increasing TER allowance by factor of two (from 7.5 mpy to
15 mpy) results in a minor production raise, however if sand
concentration of 0.2 lb/MMscf (2*0.1 lb/MMscf) was missed
or wrongly detected by sand monitoring system, the erosion
wear will certainly exceed the designed TERs. Thus, it is
important that a reliable and accurate sand monitoring system
capable of detecting solids below the accepted TSP levels be
used and validated.
Another way of evaluating well completion and reservoir
performance is through comparison the plateau lengths at a
fixed (constant) offtake rate and for a given TER (Table 3).
For instance, assuming that 250 MMscf/d is the required
production per well in order to satisfy a particular gas contract,
the corresponding minimum WHFPs (Figures 11, 12 and 13)
for TER of 15 mpy will be 1400 psi (Design 1 and 2) and 900
psi (Design 3). In terms of production time, this corresponds
to plateau lengths of around 1.3, 5.7 and 10.6 years for
Designs 1, 2 and 3 respectively. When compared to the
equivalent duration based only on the hydraulic limits itself,
the plateau is shortened with 29%, 15% and 1% accordingly.
Irrespective of the design configuration, erosion limit impact
is more pronounced when lower TERs are to be used.
Nonetheless, Design 3 is less affected by the lower TER, as
the maximum relative production cut experienced is only
5.6%.

SPE 88492

TER (mpy)

15

Design 1
10

7.5

15

Design 2
10

7.5

15

Design 3
10

7.5

Plateau length
based on erosion
limit (years)

1.3

0.8

5.7

5.1

4.7

10.6

10.4

10.1

Plateau length
based on hydraulic
limit only (years)

1.8

1.8

1.8

6.7

6.7

6.7

10.7

10.7

10.7

27.78

44.44

55.56

14.93

23.88

29.85

Erosion Limit
Impact (%)

0.93

2.80

5.61

Table 4 Erosion limit impact


Erosion limit curves can be obtained for any component of
the system. In most cases, the maximum well production rate
is limited by the erosion resistance of the wellhead, though
depending on the system layout and TERs applied, some other
areas may have higher exposure. Thus, it is important to treat
all potential wear hot spots in an individual bases in order to
maximize overall system deliverability and to determine an
appropriate erosion mitigation action.
Erosion mitigation action (Stage 3)
Although, the offtake rates as constrained by erosion limit
curves should assure a reliable and safe system performance, it
is important that wear resistance of the identified hot spot
regions to be additionally improved to account for any
uncertainties related to the actual production conditions.
Controlling factors such as fluid velocity, fluid density, sand
concentration, flow geometry and material properties will
significantly improve erosion behaviour of the system. Some
simple measures which can be applied in high risk
components are presented below:
Crossover joint
The tapered angle can be lowered to below 5 deg. This will
reduce the flow velocity towards the wall and will also
minimize regional turbulence resulting in a similar erosion
rates as for straight tubing. Thicker tubing wall will give
additional insurance for safe performance.
Wellhead
Higher grade materials, such as Stllite 12 and increase wall
thickness can be used in manufacturing the Crown plug. Dual
or single flowlines with 120 deg vertical phasing can reduce
wear experienced by the side and corner region of the
wellhead.
Choke
Under all circumstances the choke will be the most
exposed component of the system. Even when it is
manifuctured by primium materials erosion can not be
sufficiently reduced without reducing the in-situ flow velocity
via increasing both choke cross sectional area and the
downstream pressure (i.e. M/SP). In the cases when M/SP can
not be increased and regular replacement of the component is
judged as cost ineffective, the alternative is to amplify
pressure losses in the pipeline between the wellhead and the
manifold through introducing an in-line choke or via reducing
the pipe ID. The former action will intensify the wear in the
pipe. Nevertheless, because of the larger pipe internal area and

SPE 88492

its straight geometry, the material loss will be more uniform


reducing intervention frequency.
Pipeline
Pipe integrity can be improved by utilizing higher grade
material and substituting the normal elbow fittings (r/D=1.5)
with cushioned/plugged Tees. Also, pipe internal diameter can
be accordingly adjusted in order to reduce in-situ velocities.
Though, this action will shift erosion risk to the choke.
Conclusions
The key results presented in this paper demonstrate that:

In the case of gas and gas condensate fluids API


RP14E fails to accurately account for the erosive rate
when solids production exists.
In the case of zero particle rates the well erosion rates
are limited only by liquid impingement and shear
stress considerations. In practice, these limits are
usually less than that provided by hydraulic
constraints. In sand free production tubing velocities
of the order of 300 ft/s are possible.
In the case of solids production the wellhead and the
flow line (the choke section and the first plugged Tee
after the choke) become major focus areas i.e. erosion
hot-spots. High production rates are however still
possible provided suitable material selection and
monitoring strategy is undertaken as well as
appropriate well intervention is planned.
Plotting hydraulic and erosional limits on single rate
vs well head pressure plot, instead of the more
conventional bottom-hole pressure versus rate plot,
leads to a concise visual summary of limiting
conditions.
While the present analysis has considered TER for
sand loadings of 0.1 lb/mmscf, the same logic can be
applied to higher sand loadings. As the potential for
wear becomes too high, offtake rates should be
reduced to keep erosion within the designed TER (for
the same production time) making the case for
installation sand exclusion devices much stronger.
There is a clear value driver in operating fewer, higher
rate wells, when adopting a TER strategy over a
reduced rate, reduced erosion (or sand free ) strategy.
Reliable sand detection, capable of measuring solids
levels at the anticipated TSP is essential for
implementing a TER strategy.

Acknowledgments
The authors wish to acknowledge Francis Thompson for
building reservoir simulation model and J.W. Skogsberg and
J.B. Bradburn for providing technical advice
Abbreviations
CGR
CRA
ESP
LP
MATL

Condensate Gas Ratio


Corrosion Resistant Alloy
Excessive Sand Production
Low Pressure (at wellhead)
Maximum Allowable Thickness Loss

mpy
MP
M/SP
MSFP
MTE
NSFP
SF
SPPS
TER
TRSV
WGR
WHFP
WHFT

Mils (0.0254mm) per year


Medium Pressure (at wellhead)
Manifold or Separator Pressure
Maximum Solids Free Production
Maximum Tolerable Erosion
Nominal Sand Free Production
Sand Free
Sand Production Pipe Saver.
Tolerable Erosion Rate
Tubing Retrievable Safety Valve
Water Gas Ratio
Well Head Flowing Pressure
Well Head Flowing Temperature

References
1.

S.P.Dolan, G.J. Williams and R.J Crabtree : Planning and


Execution of Big Bore Wells- Offshore NW Australia
paper SPE/IADC 67820 presented at the SPE/IADC
Drilling Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 27
February-1 March 2001
2. J.M.Benesch, Nazri Nor and Ngatijan: Optimization of
Big-Bore HTHP Wells to Exploit a Low Pressure Reservoir
in Indonesia paper IADC/SPE 87171 presented at the
SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, Dallas, Texas, 2-4 March
2004
3. R.A.Hartmann, G.O. Vikesa and P.A. Kjaernes: Big Bore,
High Flowrate, Deep Water Gas Wells for Ormen Lange
paper OTC 16554 presented at the Offshore Technology
Conference, Houston, Texas, USA, 3-6 May 2004
4. F.Selfridge, M.Munday, O.Kvernvold and B.Gordon:
Safely Improving Production Performance Through
Improved Sand Management paper SPE 83979 presented
at Offshore Europe 2003, Aberdeen, UK, 2-5 September
2003
5. M.M. Salama: An Alternative to API 14E Erosional
Velocity Limits for Sand Laden Fluids paper OTC 8898
presented at the 1989 Offshore Technology Conference,
Houston, Texas, 4-7 May 1989
6. DNV (1996): Erosive Wear in Piping System
Recommended Practice RP O501
7. M.J. Castle and D.T Teng: Extending Gas Well Velocity
Limits: Problems and Solutions paper SPE 22958
presented at the SPE Asia Pacific Oil & Gas Conference
and Exhibition, Perth, Australia, 4-7 November 1991
8. API (1991): Recommended Practice for Design and
Installation of Offshore Production Platform Piping
System Fifth Edition, American Petroleum Institute,
Washington, D.C.
9. TUV NEL Limited: Erosion in Elbows in Hydrocarbon
Production Systems: Review Document Research Report
115 ISBN 0 7176 2743 8 prepared for the Health and
Safety Executive 2003
10. S.J. Svendeman and K.E. Arnold: Criteria for Sizing
Multiphase Flow Lines for Erosive/Corrosive Service
paper SPE 26569 presented at the 68th SPE Annual
Technical Conference and Exhibition, Houston, Texas 3-6
October 1993
11. B.S McLaury and S.A. Shirazi: Generalization of API
RP14E for Erosive Service in Multiphase Production
paper SPE 56812 presented at the 1999 SPE Annual
Technical Conference and Exhibition, Houston, Texas,3-6
October 1999
12. D.M. Deffenbaugh and J.C.Buckingham: A Study of the
Erosional/Corrosional Velocity Criterion for Sizing Multi-

SPE 88492

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

5500
4500

400
3500
300
2500

FBHP (psi)

15.

6500

500
Production Rate (MMscf/d)

14.

600

200
1500
100

500

-500
0

10

15

20

25

Production Time (years)

Figure 2 Pressure/Rate profiles for designs 1, 2 and 3. While the


well rates are constrained (choked) to the plateau value the
bottom hole pressure is only constrined by the (same) reservoir
inflow relation. In this case different levels of choking are being
applied to the three designs.

-500

Fluid Velocity (ft/s)

Manifold
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

0
Wellhead

Measured Depth (ft)

13.

Phase Flow Lines SwRI Project No. 04-2433 Phase I and


Phase II Final Report
J.B.Bradburn and J.W.Skogsberg ChevronTexaco Energy
Research
and
Technology
Company
personal
communication.
The E/CRC at University of Tulsa, Advisory Board Report
for May 2004: E/CRC Computer Program for Erosion
Prediction (SPPS)
The E/CRC at University of Tulsa, Advisory Board Report
for May 2004): Erosion Predictions for Elbows and
Plugged Tees
The E/CRC at University of Tulsa, Advisory Board Report
for May 2004: Erosion in Geometries Containing Gradual
Contraction and Expansions
The E/CRC at University of Tulsa, Advisory Board Report
for May 2004: Erosion in Multiphase Flow and Validation
of SPPS
The E/CRC at University of Tulsa, Advisory Board Report
for May 2004: Erosion in Geometries Containing
Expansions
J.H. Brunton and M.C. Rochester: Erosion of Solid Surface
by the Impact of Liquid Drops Treatise on Material
Science and Technology, Vol. 16, 1979
A.T. Bourgoyne: Experimental Study of Erosion in
Diverter Systems Due to Sand Production paper
SPE/IADC 18716 presented at the 1989 SPE/IADC
Drilling Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 28March 3, 1989
T.J.Lockett, B. McLoughlin and P. Wharton: Sand
Erosion Management in HTHP Service paper NACE
00078 presented at the NACE Corrosion 2000 Conference
and Exhibition, Orlando, USA, 26-31 March 2000

Choke Vel.
(Design 2 and 3)

Choke Vel.
(Design 1)

TRSV
Location

500

Design 1
Design 2
Design 3
1000

1500

2000

Figure 3 Velocity profiles for designs 1, 2 and 3 Tubing velocities


increase up-hole. SCSSV (for design 2, only), wellhead and choke
areas are critical velocity and erosion points.
Design 1

Design 2

7" x Tree
W/Hd &
SCSSV
30"

7"
CRA
O

Design 3

7" x Tree
W/Hd &
SCSSV
30"

7"
CRA
O

9-5/8" x Tree
W/Hd &
SCSSV
30"

6473

7000

6165

6000

5968
5776

5678

5627

5000

20"

20"
9-5/8"
CRA

20"
9-5/8"
CRA

4000

2514

3000

2040
1689

2000

13-3/8"
7"
CRA

13-3/8"

708

7-5/8"
CRA

1000

102
100

Time (years)
Choke Size (in)

9-5/8" CRA

9-5/8" CRA

13-3/8" CRA

0.02
3

0.64
6

Before Comp

849
143

122
121

1269

131

16"

144
1.05
3
MP Comp

7" CRA

7" CRA

9-5/8" CRA

Figure 1 Well design configurations. Note how Big-Bore designs


attempt to increase flow area in lower pressure (higher gas
velocity) zones higher in the wellbore.

210
179

187
1.47
6

233

996

741
212

818
326
240

276

BHFP (psi)
WHFP (psi)
Choke Vel (ft/s)
TRSSV Vel (ft/s)
Whd Vel (ft/s)

1.69
4

1.81
6
LP Comp

Figure 4 The variation (front to back) of gas velocity in the


wellhead, TRSSV and choke, along with WHP and THP with time
for Design 1 in a gas reservoir pressure-depletion development.
Compression facilities allow the provision of lower THPs later in
the wells life (MP and LP stages). Note that the time axis is not
necessarily in equal time increments. The choke settings are also
indicated.

SPE 88492

800
5931

700
Production Rate (MMscf/d)

6000

4427

5000

4163
3892

4000

3753

3678

3650

3000

2041
2000

1270

1000

74
Time (years)
Choke Size (in)

500
Reservoir
Pressure

400
300
200

213
860
144
182

123
122

145

0.68
2

4.44
6
Before Comp

190

5.21
3

100

999

133

600

1694

1226

76

Erosion
Limit Line

819

754

244

237

BHFP (psi)
WHFP (psi)
Choke Vel (ft/s)

332

215
281

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

WHFP (psi)

TRSSV Vel (ft/s)


Whd Vel (ft/s)

6.02
6

6.45
4

6.69
6

MP Comp

Figure 8 Design 1 - Maximum offtake rates under SF production


condition. Production rates on the right hand side of the line will
result in erosion less than the designed limits. All calculations
performed at average WHFT

LP
C

Figure 5 Design 2

800
5485

700
Production Rate (MMscf/d)

6000

5000

3511
3187
3877

4000

2829

2644

2538

3000

2052
2000

1714

1224

1287

1024

135
874

37

65

37

66

0
Time (years)
Choke Size (in)

1.7
2

7.2
6

Before Comp

78

217

770

102

78

104

8.3
3

9.6
6

151

130

400
300
200

BHFP (psi)
WHFP (psi)

340

127

Reservoir
Pressure

500

100

844

1000

Erosion
Limit Line

600

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

Choke Vel (ft/s)

WHFP (psi)

TRSSV Vel (ft/s)

156

Whd Vel (ft/s)


10.3
4

10.7
6

MP Comp

Figure 9 Design 2 - Maximum offtake rates under SF production


condition

LP Comp

Figure 6 Design 3
800
Erosion
Limit Line

800
700

Production Rate (MMscf/d)

Production Rate (MMscf/d)

Erosion
Limit Lines

700
600
Designs 3
500
400

Designs 1 and 2
300

600
Reservoir
Pressure

500
400
300
200

200
100
100
0
0

0
0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

WHFP (psi)

WHFP (psi)

Figure 7 Erosion limits for Designs 1, 2 and 3 under SF


production conditions.

Figure 10 Design 3 - Maximum offtake rates under SF production


condition

10

SPE 88492

800

Production Rate (MMscf/d)

700

Erosion Limit curves for TER


of 15,10 and 7.5 mpy

600
500
C=683

400

Reservoir
Pressure

300
C=100

200
100
0
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

WHFP (psi)

Figure 11 Design 1 - Maximum offtake rates under NSFP condition


for TERs of 15, 10 and 7.5 mpy. Flow rates on the right hand side
of the curves will result in erosion less than antisipated
allowance. Erosion curves) calculated using API RP14E (dash
black curves) for C coefficients of 100 and 638 are also shown. All
calculation performed at average WHFT

800
Erosion Limit curves for
TER of 15,10 and 7.5 mpy

Production Rate (MMscf/d)

700
600
C=683

500

Reservoir
Pressure

400
300
C=100
200
100
0
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

WHFP (psi)

Figure 12 Design 2 - Maximum offtake rates under NSFP


production for TERs of 15, 10 and 7.5 mpy
800
C=683
Erosion Limit curves for
TER of 15,10 and 7.5 mpy

Production Rate (MMscf/d)

700
600

Reservoir
Pressure

500
400
300
200
100

C=100

0
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

WHFP (psi)

Figure 13 Design 3 - Maximum offtake rates under NSFP


production for TERs of 15, 10 and 7.5 mpy

6000