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Production Control Chokes

Types Reasons Basics of Operations Application

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Rough schematic of an adjustable choke

Adjustable Restriction Needle and Seat for this type of choke.

A choke is a restriction in a flow line that causes a pressure drop or reduces the rate of flow. It commonly uses a partially blocked orifice.
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Most Common Chokes


Positive:
Fixed orifice Shut in well (or divert flow) and disassemble choke housing to change the restriction or flow bean

Adjustable
Provides variable orifice size through external adjustment without choke disassembly.
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Variable Chokes - good for bringing wells on gradually. Prone to washouts from high velocity, particles, and even droplets or bubbles in severe cases. Solutions - hardened chokes (diamond and carbide), chokes in series, dual chokes.

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Beans are fixed (non adjustable) orifices ID size is in 64ths of an inch. This type of choke is used on wells that require almost no adjustments to flow.

ID

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Choke Uses
Control Flow achieve liquid lift Maximize use best use of gas (lift?) Protect equipment abrasion and erosion Cleanup best use of backflow energy Control circulation holds a back pressure Control pressures at surface (during flow) Control injection on injection line
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What Happens as Choke Provides a Pressure Drop and What Happens to the pressure?
Energy from pressure drop is lost in: Increased velocity (from gas expansion) Vaporization (flashing) of light (short carbon chain) hydrocarbon liquids to gas Vaporization of water Cavitation Heat production (usually liquid friction)

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Detriments
Flashing hydrocarbon light ends lost (value lost) Cavitation erosion of surfaces in and around choke Erosion solids, droplets and bubbles in high velocity flow Freezing expansion of gasses cools the area refrigeration principle

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Pressure around the choke

Inlet or well pressure, P1 Pressure drop through the orifice

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, P2

VENA Contracta Phenomenon

P r e s s u r e

P1 Delta P P2 Recovery

Distance Flow Traveled

The consequences of the low pressure region in the choke can lead to severe problems with cavitation and related flashing (vaporization).
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Problems
The larger the difference between the inlet and outlet pressures, the higher the potential for damage to the internals of the choke. When delta P ratio (i.e., (P1-P2)/P1) rises above 0.6, damage is likely. Changes in choke type, materials of construction, or choke arrangement may be needed (multiple chokes in series for high pressure drops?)
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Cavitation During Liquid Flow

Ultra low pressure region in and immediately below choke causes bubble to form from vaporizing liquid, Recovery of pressure causes bubble to collapse; i.e., cavitation

Imploding bubbles and shock waves

The rapid collapse of the bubbles causes high velocity movement of liquid and damage around the site.
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Flashing During Liquid Flow

Vaporization of light ends, but no significant damage in this region since pressure recovery not above vapor pressure, hence bubbles dont collapse.

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Freezing
Expansion of gas (and solutions containing gas) cools the surroundings. Can form an ice plug and block flow.
P1 T1 Press Temperature dP Freezing Pt T2 P2 Recovery Recovery Distance Traveled
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Measurements used in Choke Calculations

P1 is inlet pressure

Flow rate through the choke

dP is press drop thru the choke

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P2 is outlet pressure

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Calculations
delta P = P1 P2 delta P ratio = delta P/P1 These values are use to measure the capacity and recovery of the choke

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Throttling Methods
Needle and seat Multiple orifice Fixed Bean Plug and Cage External Sleeve

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Needle and Seat


Simplest and least expensive adjustable Best for pressure control High Capacity

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Multiple Orifice
Quick open and close Good rate and pressure control An in-line instrument not usually used on the wellhead

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Fixed Bean
Best when infrequent change needed Used mostly on trees

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Plug and Cage


High capacity Good control

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External Sleeve
Superior Erosion Resistance Minimizes Body Erosion

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Choke Sizing
Control the flow maximize production Minimized vibration damage Minimize erosion damage

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Choke Selection
Based On:
Application (lift, deliquifying the well, erosion control, solids production prevention, etc.) Rate or flow and range of flow rate Presence of solids Maximum velocity Total pressure drop

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Choke Selection (continued)


Fluid liquid, gas, or GOR of mix. Pressure both pressure drop and total pressure Temperature range of acceptable temperatures during service Occurance and timing of solids in flow Droplets, bubbles Scale and organic deposit potential
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How would you set a choke with minimum monitoring equipment?


One way is by measuring temperature at the surface
Producing a well at maximum rates means lifting more liquids. Using the high heat capacity of liquids (3 to >10x most gas heat capacities), the max lift in a well would be achieved very near the maximum wellhead temperature.

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Choke Sizing
Cv = coefficient value
Number of gallons of water per minute that will pass through a restriction with a pressure drop of 1 psi at 60oF. Used as the flow capacity index Does not correspond to a specific throttling method.

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Choke Calculation Example

Choke Size (inches) 4/64 6/64 7/64 8/64 9/64 10/64 12/64 16/64 24/64 32/64

Bore Diam (inches) 0.0625 0.0938 0.1094 0.1250 0.1406 0.1563 0.1865 0.2500 0.3750 0.5000

Choke Coefficient MCF/D/PSIA 0.08 0.188 0.261 0.347 0.444 0.553 0.802 1.470 3.400 6.260

Note: for accuracy the upstream press must be twice downstream press.

Example: a well is flowing through a 10/64 choke at 2175 psig WHP. What is the dry gas flow rate? (This is a very rough estimate!) 2175 psig = 2190 psia. Choke coeff. for 10/64 = 0.553 Gas rate = 2190 x 0.553 = ~1200 mcf/d
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Choke Operations
Problems with Erosion Solutions

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Erosion is damage caused by impingement of particles, droplets, bubbles and even liquid on any solid surface at high velocity.

To reduce erosion, slow down the velocity.


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Erosion in a positive of bean choke from micron sized fines and high velocity gas flow.

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Typical flow patterns (and erosion) in a bean choke.

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Advanced corrosion is often in the exit end of the choke from higher gas velocities after gas has expanded.

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Erosion at the exit flange

JPT, March 1998


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The velocity profile and pressure drop across a choke with a large pressure drop opportunity for erosion is very high.

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JPT, March 1998


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One solution to the problem is to take the pressure drop in series and hold a slight backpressure. For example, a 1000 to 0 psi pressure drop produces a 68 fold expansion in gas volume, while a 1500 to 500 psi pressure drop produces a 3 fold gas volume expansion.

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JPT, March 1998

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Choke Conclusions
Production chokes help unload and produce the well through pressure management. Choke setting requirements change as pressure drops, rate changes and fluid composition varies. Good production engineering requires regular design and setting checks for production chokes.
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