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Well Bore

Oil Zone

Cone

Water

Figure 15-16: Water production due to water coning

8,800 2690

Pre Frac
9,000 Thermal Profile 2750
Conductivity Static
9,200 Effects Log 2810 Hole Depth(m)

9,400 2870
Hole Depth (ft)

Post Frac
9,600 Profile 2930

9,800 2990

10,000 Fracture 3050


Top Profiles
Separate
12,000 3110

10,400 3170
175 200 225 250 275
Temperature (ºF)
80ºC 93ºC 108ºC 121ºC 135ºC

Figure 15-17: Pre- and post fracture temperature logs identifying fracture height
(After Dobkins., 1981)
Figure 15-18: Spinner flowmeter log identifying a watered zone at bottom
15.5 Liquid Loading of Gas Wells
Gas wells usually produce natural gas carrying liquid water and/or condensate in the form of
mist. As the gas flow velocity in the well drops owing to the reservoir pressure depletion, the
carrying capacity of the gas decreases. When the gas velocity drops to a critical level, liquids
begin to accumulate in the well and the well flow can undergo annular flow regime followed by
a slug flow regime. The accumulation of liquids (liquid loading) increases bottom hole pressure
that reduces gas production rate. Low gas production rate will cause gas velocity to drop further.
Eventually the well will undergo bubbly flow regime and cease producing.
Several measures can be taken to solve the liquid loading problem. Foaming the liquid water can
enable the gas to lift water from the well. Using smaller tubing or creating a lower wellhead
pressure sometimes can keep mist flow. The well can be unloaded by gas-lifting or pumping the
liquids out of the well. Heating the wellbore can prevent liquid condensation. Down-hole
injection of water into an underlying disposal zone is another option. However, liquid loading is
not always obvious and recognizing the liquid loading problem is not an easy task. A thorough
diagnostic analysis of well data needs to be performed. The symptoms to look for include onset
of liquid slugs at the surface of well, increasing difference between the tubing and casing
pressures with time, sharp changes in gradient on a flowing pressure survey, and sharp drops in a
production decline curve.

15.5.1 Turner’s Method


Turner et al (1969) were the pioneer investigators who analyzed and predicted the minimum gas
flow rate to prevent liquid loading. They presented two mathematical models to describe the
liquid loading problem: the film movement model and entrained drop movement model. On the
basis of analyses on field data, they concluded that the film movement model does not represent
the controlling liquid transport mechanism.
Turner et al.’s entrained drop movement model was derived on the basis of the terminal free
settling velocity of liquid drops and the maximum drop diameter corresponding to the critical
Weber number of 30. Turner et al.’s terminal slip velocity equation is expressed in U.S. field
units as

1.3σ 1 / 4 (ρ L − ρ g )
1/ 4

v sl = . (15.23)
C d1 / 4 ρ g
1/ 2

According to Turner et al., gas will continuously remove liquids from the well until its velocity
drops to below the terminal slip velocity. The minimum gas flow rate (in MMcf/D) for a
particular set of condition (pressure and conduit geometry) can be calculated using Eqs. (15.23)
and (15.24).

3.06 pv sl A
Q gslMM = . (15.24)
Tz
12000

10000

Test Flow Rate (Mcf/D


8000

6000

4000 Unloaded
? Nearly loaded up
2000 Loaded up
Questionable
0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000
Calculated Minimum Flow Rate (Mcf/D)

Figure 15-19: Calculated minimum flow rates with Turner et al.’s model and test flow rates

Figure 15-19 shows a comparison between the results of Turner et al.’s entrained drop
movement model. The map shows many loaded points in the unloaded region. Turner et al.
recommended the equation-derived values be adjusted upward by approximately 20% to insure
removal of all drops. Turner et al. believed that the discrepancy was attributed to several facts
including the use of drag coefficients for solid spheres, the assumption of stagnation velocity,
and the critical Weber number established for drops falling in air, not in compressed gas.
The main problem that hinders the application of Turner et al.’s entrained drop model to gas
wells comes from the difficulties of estimating the values of fluid density and pressure. Using an
average value of gas specific gravity (0.6) and gas temperature (120oF), Turner et al. derived an
expression for gas density as 0.0031 times the pressure. However, they did not present a method
for calculating the gas pressure in a multiphase flow wellbore. A spreadsheet program
TuurnerLoading.xls has been developed for quick calculation associated with this book.
Turner et al.’s entrained drop movement model was later modified by a number of authors.
Coleman et al. (1991) suggested to use Eq (15.23) with a lower constant value. Nosseir et al.
(2000) expanded Turner et al.’s entrained drop model to more than one flow regimes in a well.
Lea and Nickens (2004) made some corrections to Turner et al.’s simplified equations. However,
the original drawbacks (neglected transport velocity and multiphase flow pressure) with Turner
et al.’s approach still remain unsolved.

15.5.2 Guo et al.’s Method


Starting from Turner et al.’s entrained drop model, Guo et al. (2006) determined the minimum
kinetic energy of gas that is required to lift liquids. A 4-phase (gas, oil, water, and solid particles)
mist-flow model was developed. Applying the minimum kinetic energy criterion to the 4-phase
flow model resulted in a closed form analytical equation for predicting the minimum gas flow
rate.
15.5.2.1 Minimum Kinetic Energy
Kinetic energy per unit volume of gas can be expressed as
ρ g vg 2
Ek = . (15.25)
2gc

Substituting Eq (15.23) into Eq (15.25) gives an expression for the minimum kinetic energy
required to keep liquid droplets from falling:

σ (ρ L − ρ g ) . (15.26)
E ksl = 0.026
Cd

If the value of drag coefficient Cd = 0.44 (recommended by Turner et al.) is used, and the effect
of gas density is neglected (a conservative assumption), Eq (15.26) becomes:

E ksl = 0.04 σρ L . (15.27)


In gas wells producing water, typical values for water-gas interfacial tension and water density
are 60 dynes/cm and 65 lbm/ft3, respectively. This yields the minimum kinetic energy value of
2.5 lbf-ft/ft3. In gas wells producing condensate, typical values for condensate-gas interfacial
tension and condensate density are 20 dynes/cm and 45 lbm/ft3, respectively. This yields the
minimum kinetic energy value of 1.2 lbf-ft/ft3.
The minimum gas velocity required for transporting the liquid droplets upward is equal to the
minimum gas velocity required for floating the liquid droplets (keeping the droplets from falling)
plus the transport velocity of the droplets, i.e.,

v gm = v sl + vtr . (15.28)

The transport velocity vtr may be calculated on the basis of liquid production rate, geometry of
the conduit, and liquid volume fraction, which is difficulty to quantify. Instead of trying to
formulate an expression for the transport velocity vtr, Guo et al. used vtr as an empirical constant
to lump the effects of non-stagnation velocity, drag coefficients for solid spheres, and the critical
Weber number established for drops falling in air. On the basis of Turner et al.s work, the value
of vtr was taken as 20% of vsl in this study. Use of this value results in
v gm ≈ 1.2v sl . (15.29)

Substituting Eqs (15.23) and (15.29) into Eq. (15.25) results in the expression for the minimum
kinetic energy required for transporting the liquid droplets as:

E km = 0.0576 σρ L . (15.30)
For typical gas wells producing water, this equation yields the minimum kinetic energy value of
3.6 lbf-ft/ft3. For typical gas wells producing condensate, this equation gives the minimum
kinetic energy value of 1.73 lbf-ft/ft3. These numbers imply that the required minimum gas
production rate in water-producing gas wells is approximately twice of that in condensate-
producing gas wells.
In order to evaluate the gas kinetic energy Ek in Eq. (15.25) at a given gas flow rate and compare
it with the minimum required kinetic energy Ekm in Eq. (15.30), the values of gas density ρg and
gas velocity vg need to be determined. Expressions for ρg and vg can be obtained from ideal gas
law:
2.7 S g p
ρg = . (15.31)
T

TQG
v g = 4.71 × 10 − 2 . (15.32)
Ai p

Substituting Eqs (15.31) and (15.32) into Eq. (15.25) yields:


2
S g TQG
E k = 9.3 × 10 − 5 . (15.33)
Ai2 p

Equation (15.33) indicates that the gas kinetic energy decreases with increased pressure, which
means that the controlling conditions are bottom hole conditions where gas has higher pressure
and lower kinetic energy. This analysis is consistent with the observations from air-drilling
operations where solid particles accumulate at bottom hole rather than top hole. However, this
analysis is in contradiction with Turner et al.’s results that indicated that the wellhead conditions
are, in most instances, controlling.

15.5.2.2 Four-Phase Flow Model

In order to accurately predict the bottom hole pressure p in Eq. (15.33), a gas-oil-water-solid 4-
phase mist-flow model was developed by Guo et al. (2006). According to the 4-phase flow
model, the flowing pressure p at depth L can be solved numerically from the following equation:

144b( p − p hf ) +
1 − 2bm (144 p + m ) + n 2

(144 p hf + m)2 + n
ln
2

b(P − Phf ) +
1 − 2bm (P + m ) + n 2

(Phf + m)2 + n
ln
2

b
m+ n − bm 2 ⎡ −1 ⎛ 144 p + m ⎞ ⎛ 144 p hf + m ⎞⎤
c ⎟⎟ − tan −1 ⎜⎜ ⎟⎥
− ⎢ tan ⎜⎜ ⎟
n ⎣⎢ ⎝ n ⎠ ⎝ n ⎠⎦⎥

(
= a 1+ d 2 e L .) (15.34)

where

15 .33 S sQs + 86 .07 S wQw + 86 .07 S oQo + 18 .79 S g QG (15.35)


a= cos(θ )
10 3 Tav QG

0.2456 Qs + 1.379 Qw + 1.379 Qo . (15.36)


b=
10 3 Tav QG
6.785 × 10−6 TavQG (15.37)
c=
Ai

Qs + 5.615(Qw + Qo ) (15.38)
d=
600 Ai

6f
e= (15.39)
gDh cos(θ )
2
⎡ ⎤
⎢ ⎥
(15.40)
fM = ⎢ ⎥
1
⎢ ⎛ 2ε ' ⎞ ⎥
⎢1.74 − 2 log⎜⎜ ⎟⎟ ⎥
⎢⎣ ⎝ Dh ⎠ ⎥⎦
cde
m= (15.41)
1 + d 2e
c 2e . (15.42)
n=
(1 + d e)
2 2

where
A = cross-sectional area of conduit, ft2
Dh = hydraulic diameter, in
fM = Moody friction factor
g = gravitational acceleration, 32.17 ft/s2
L = conduit length, ft
p = pressure, psia
phf = wellhead flowing pressure, psia
QG = gas production rate, Mscf/day
Qo = oil production rate, bbl/day
Qs = solid production rate, ft3/day
Qw = water production rate, bbl/day
Sg = specific gravity of gas, air =1
So = specific gravity of produced oil, fresh water =1
Sw = specific gravity of produced water, fresh water =1
Ss = specific gravity of produced solid, fresh water =1
Tav = the average temperature in the butting, oR
ε’ = pipe wall roughness, in
θ = inclination angle, Deg.

15.5.2.3 Minimum Required Gas Production Rate


A logical procedure for predicting the minimum required gas flow rate Qgm involves calculating
gas density ρg, gas velocity vg, and gas kinetic energy Ek at bottom hole condition using an
assumed gas flow rate QG, and compare the Ek with Ekm. If the Ek is greater than Ekm, the QG is
higher than the Qgm. The value of QG should be reduced and the calculation should be repeated
until the Ek is very close to Ekm. For this procedure is tedious, a simple equation was derived by
Guo et al. for predicting the minimum required gas flow rate in this section. Under the minimum
unloaded condition (the last point of the mist flow regime), Eq (15.33) becomes:
2
S gTbhQgm
Ekm = 9.3 × 10− 5 (15.43)
Ai2 p

which gives:
2
S gTbhQgm . (15.44)
p = 9.3 × 10−5
Ai2 Ekm

Substituting Eq (15.44) into Eq. (15.34) results in:


b
m + n − bm 2
144bα1 +
1 − 2bm
2
ln α 2 − c [ ]
tan −1 β1 − tan −1 β 2 = γ (15.45)
n

where
2

α1 = 9.3 × 10 −5
S gTbh Qgm
− phf
(15.46)
Ai2 Ekm
2
⎛ S T Q2 ⎞
⎜1.34 × 10 −2 g 2bh gm + m ⎟ + n
⎜ Ai Ekm ⎟ (15.47)
α2 = ⎝ ⎠
(144 phf + m) + n
2

2
S gTbhQgm
1.34 × 10− 2 +m
Ai2 Ekm (15.48)
β1 =
n
144 phf + m (15.49)
β2 =
n

γ = a(1+ d 2e)L (15.50)

All the parameter values should be evaluated at Qgm. The minimum required gas flow rate Qgm
can be solved from Eq (15.45) with a trial-and-error or numerical method such as Bisection
method. It can be shown that Eq (15.45) is a one-to-one function of Qgm for Qgm values greater
than zero. Therefore, Newton-Raphson iteration technique can also be used for solving Qgm.
Commercial software packages such as MS Excel can be used as solvers. In fact, the Goal Seek
function built in the MS Excel was used for generating solutions presented in this chapter. The
spreadsheet program is named GaswellLoading.xls.

Example Problem 15-2:


To demonstrate how to use Eq. (15.45) for predicting the minimum unloading gas flow rate,
consider a vertical gas well producing 0.70 specific gravity gas and 50 bbl/d condensate through
a 2.441-in. I.D. tubing against a wellhead pressure of 900 psia. Suppose the tubing string is set at
a depth of 10,000 ft, and other data are given in Table 15-1.
Table 15-1: Basic Parameter Values for Example Problem 15-1

Gas specific gravity 0.7 air =1


Hole inclination 0 Deg
Wellhead temperature 60 oF
Geothermal Gradient 0.01 oF/ft
Condensate gravity 60 oAPI
Water specific gravity 1.05 water = 1
Solid specific gravity 2.65 water = 1
Interfacial tension 20 dyne/cm
Tubing wall roughness 0.000015 inch

Solution:
The solution given by the spreadsheet program GasWellLoading.xls is shown in Table 15-2.

Table 15-2: Result Given by the Spreadsheet Program GasWellLoading.xls


Calculated Parameters:

Hydraulic diameter 0.2034 ft


Conduit cross-sectional area 0.0325 ft2
o
Average temperature 570 R
Minimum kinetic energy 1.6019 lbf-ft/ft3

a= 2.77547E-05
b= 1.20965E-07
c= 875999.8117
d= 0.10598146
e= 0.000571676
fM = 0.007481992
m= 53.07387106
n= 438684299.6

Solution:
Critical gas production rate 1059 Mscf/day
Pressure (p) = 1189 psia
Objective function f(Qgm) = -1.78615E-05

15.5.3 Comparison of Turner’s and Guo et al.’s Methods


Figure 15-20 illustrates Eq (15.45)-calculated minimum flow rates mapped against the test flow
rates for the same wells used in Figure 15-19. This map shows 6 loaded points in the unloaded
region but they are very close to the boundary. This means Guo et al.’s method is more accurate
than Turner et al.’s method in estimating the minimum flow rates.
12000

10000

Test Flow Rate (Mcf/D)


8000

6000

4000 Unloaded
? Nearly loaded up
2000 Loaded up
Questionable
0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000
Calculated Minimum Flow Rate (Mcf/D)

Figure 15-20: The minimum flow rates given by Guo et al.’s model and the test flow rates

* * * * *

Summary
This chapter presented a guideline to identifying problems commonly encountered in oil and gas
wells. Well test analysis provides a means of estimating properties of individual pay zones.
Production logging analysis identifies fluid entries to the wellbore from different zones. Guo et
al.’s method is more accurate than Turner’s method for predicting liquid loading problems in gas
production wells.

References
Chaudhry, A. C.: Oil Well Testing Handbook, Gulf Professional Publishing, Burlington (2004).
Clark, N.J. and Schultz, W.P.: “The Analysis of Problem Wells,” The Petroleum Engineer (Sept.
1956) 28: B30-B38.
Coleman, S.B., Clay H.B., McCurdy, D.G., and Norris III, L.H.: “A New Look at Predicting Gas
Well Loading-Up,” JPT (March 1991), Trans., AIME, 291, 329.
Dake, L.P.: Fundamentals of Reservoir Engineering, Elsevier, Amsterdam (2002).
Dobkins, T.A.: “Improved method to Determine Hydraulic Fracture Height,” JPT (April 1981),
719-726.
Economides, M.J., Hill, A.D., and Ehlig-Economides, C.: Petroleum Production Systems,
Prentice Hall PTR, New Jersey (1994).
EPS: FloSystem User Manu, E-Production Services, Inc., Edinburgh (2005).
EPS: PanSystem User Manu, E-Production Services, Inc., Edinburgh (2004).
Fekete: F.A.S.T. WellTest User Manu, fekete Associates, Inc., Calgary (2003).
Guo, B. and Ghalambor, A., and Xu, C.: A Systematic Approach to Predicting Liquid Loading in
Gas Well, SPE Production & Operations J. (Feb. 2006).
Horne, R.N.: Modern Well test Analysis: A Computer-Aided Approach, Petroway Publishing,
New York (1995).
Lea, J.F. and Nickens, H.V.: “Solving Gas-Well Liquid-Loading Problems,” SPE Prod. &
Facilities (April 2004), 30.
Lee, J.W., Rollins, J.B., and Spivey, J.P.: Pressure Transient Testing, Society of Petroleum
Engineers, Richardson (2003).
Nosseir, M.A., Darwich, T.A., Sayyouh, M.H., and Sallaly, M.E.: “A New Approach for
Accurate Prediction of Loading in Gas Wells Under Different Flowing Conditions,” SPE Prod.
& Facilities (Nov. 2000), 15, No. 4, 245.
Turner, R.G., Hubbard, M.G., and Dukler, A.E.: “Analysis and Prediction of Minimum Flow
Rate for the Continuous Removal of Liquids from Gas Wells,” JPT (Nov. 1969), Trans., AIME,
246, 1475.

Problems
15.1 Consider a gas well producing 50 bbl/d of condensate and 0.1 cubic foot of sand through a
2.441-in. I.D. tubing against a wellhead pressure of 500 psia. Suppose the tubing string is
set at a depth of 8,000 ft, use the following data and estimate the minimum gas production
rate before the gas well gets loaded.

Gas specific gravity 0.75 air =1


Hole inclination 0 Deg
Wellhead temperature 60 oF
Geothermal Gradient 0.01 oF/ft
Condensate gravity 60 oAPI
Water specific gravity 1.07 water = 1
Solid specific gravity 2.65 water = 1
Oil-gas interfacial tension 20 dyne/cm
Tubing wall roughness 0.000015 inch

15.2 Consider a gas well producing 50 bbl/d of water and 0.2 cubic foot of sand through a 2.441-
in. I.D. tubing against a wellhead pressure of 600 psia and temperature of 80 oF. Suppose
the tubing string is set at a depth of 9,000 ft and geothermal gradient is 0.01 oF/ft, estimate
the minimum gas production rate before the gas well gets loaded.

15.2 Consider a gas well producing 80 bbl/d of water and 0.1 cubic foot of sand through a
1.995-in. I.D. tubing against a wellhead pressure of 400 psia and temperature of 70 oF.
Suppose the tubing string is set at a depth of 7,000 ft and geothermal gradient is 0.01 oF/ft,
estimate the minimum gas production rate before the gas well gets loaded.
15.4 Consider a gas well producing 70 bbl/d of oil and 0.1 cubic foot of sand through a 1.995-in.
I.D. tubing against a wellhead pressure of 600 psia and temperature of 80 oF. Suppose the
tubing string is set at a depth of 6,000 ft and geothermal gradient is 0.01 oF/ft, estimate the
minimum gas production rate before the gas well gets loaded.