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Overview

A review of recent SPE papers related to artificial lift reveals areas of interest and concern in the industry. The subjects included hydraulics; progressing-cavity pumps (PCP’s); coiled tubing; viscous oil; electrical submersible pumps (ESP’s)—gas, abrasion, and failures; slimhole pumping; gas lift—subsea, intermittent, valves, and inflow performance relationship; field studies—selection, and monitoring; beam lift—field monitoring/selection/best practices, downhole separation, pump research, design algorithms, and long stroke. Beam lift, the most common form of artificial lift, is receiving the most attention. ESP’s may not be realistically represented because the ESP Roundtable collects many of these papers. Of the subjects highlighted in this feature, beam-pump research that monitors a clear-plastic instrumented downhole-pump model is leading to new insights into pump friction, compression ratio, fillage, and diagnostics. A deepwater gas lift installation uses dynamic modeling to improve design, confidence, and reliability of the expensive production system. ESP’s are combined with gas lift in an abrasive environment experiencing slug flow to improve overall system performance. PCP systems are improved by use of hollow-rod systems to eliminate rod-connection failures, reduce tubing wear, allow injection, and increase system reliability. Heat distributed along the tubing for viscous oil production, intelligent control of intermittent gas lift, criteria for changing gas lift to implementation ESP’s, and beam lift are additional subjects of particular note. In general, gas interference in beam and ESP systems are of concern. Consideration is being made more often to use pumping systems with gas separation to increase rates in older gas lift fields. Field studies related to failure reduction and best practices will always be of use. Beam pumping is still a focus of operator attention and new developments. JPT

Artificial Lift
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James F. Lea, SPE, is the current Chair of the Petroleum Engineering Dept. at Texas Tech U. Previously, Lea was with Amoco Production Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for 21 years, working most recently as Team Leader of the Optimization and Artificial-Lift Group. He is a registered professional engineer. Lea received SPE’s Production Engineering Award in 1996 and served two terms as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer. He has authored more than 50 papers in the areas of artificial lift and production.

MAY 2001

A. H. Olmos. This article is a synopsis of paper SPE 69558. and D. A. 2—HR connection (central coupling with pipe boxes). To obtain interference between coupling and box threads in the vanishing thread area on the pipe box. The thread profile is similar to that of a tubular premium connection. The use of conventional rods to drive PCP systems has limitations and problems. Sucker-rod connections fail prematurely because of overloading. Fatigue-Life Analysis. Because the HR connection is subjected to fatigue loads. rod-string weight. This is opposite to that on the tubular premium connection. The critical parts include a torque shoulder on the pipe box.F. resultant stresses must be lower than the fatigue limit of the connection material. and a reverse-angle torque shoulder. J. wellhead is subjected to the weight of the rod string and the fluid. the connection at the bottom of the well is subjected to less torque than the connection at the wellhead. the rotation driving the pump is transmitted from the surface by a suckerrod string working under torsion. thread height in the coupling must be equal to or greater than the thread height in the pipe box. and flex. originally presented at the 2001 SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference. The connection thread has a trapezoidal shape. This phenomenon occurs at certain combinations of rotational speed and well depth because of a mass concentration at the couplings and stiffness difference between the rod body and the coupling. The fatigue life of the connection is strongly influenced by well conditions such as dogleg severity and fluid corrosion properties.m for the 60. Rotational movement of the suckerrod couplings is eccentric and generates friction when they rub against the tubing. The bodies fail as a result of combined effects of flex and torsion. it is not possible to install PCP systems because conventional rods cannot transmit the required torque (from 2035 to 3390 N. The model and full-scale testing of prototypes indicate that the torque loads for the fatigue limit of the material are between 950 and 1350 N. a conical bore on the coupling.” by D. 2 shows the geometry of the main components of the HR connection. a differential taper between pin and box components of thread. “Hollow Rods: Development of a New Technology for PCP . not under torsion (shear stress). Del Pozo. Metalmecanica S. A PCP requires a high-torque rod to drive the system. A r t ii f ii c ii a ll L ii f t Art f c a L ft 45 Fig. 1. Design Fig. Ernst. Ameglio. 1—Hollow-rod system (pipe box and coupling).m for the 48. and the thread ends on the pipe box and couplings. This difference is the result of friction between the rotating column and the tubing.A. Usually..E. Fudetec. a transition zone between the torque shoulder and the thread on the coupling. and L.4-mm connection and between 1625 and 3250 N. 25–28 March. Introduction The pump in a PCP system is a highstrength steel helical rotor moving in an elastomeric stator. Johnson.A. HR’s and connectors. A sensitivity analysis was performed relating stresses with loads and geometry of the connection and threads. Capsa Diadema. The connection at the bottom of the well does not encounter substantial axial loads while the connection at the Fig. Metalmecanica S. In many cases. the increased workloads led to an increase in the early sucker-rod failure. stresses were calculated at critical points of the connection. Buenos Aires. In operation.m).. like those shown in Fig. and bending caused by dogleg severity.H. were developed to reduce these problems and enable injection of dilutors through its interior to aid extraction of heavy and extra-heavy oils. Pumping is accomplished by the ascending displacement of isolated cavities formed between the rotor and stator. However. MAY 2001 . increases pumping rates as a result of high torque capacity. the connection at the wellhead and at the bottom of the well.Hollow-Rod Technology for PCP Systems Conventional sucker rods are used to drive progressing-cavity-pump (PCP) systems. Villasante. With increasing pump depths and capacities. With this connection. conventional rods were designed to work under alternating tensile stress. External loads considered during modeling include transmitted torque. SPE. Tensional Modeling. liquid-column weight. Tubing/sucker-rod friction causes excessive wear and early failure. improve injection efficiency. Product design used results from a multiaxial full-scale laboratory test on a connection sample.A. On the basis of these loads. Sensitivity Analysis.3-mm connection. and avoid the use of capillary injection tubes. the vanishing thread is on the box and the complete thread is on the coupling. friction. A hollow-rod (HR) system was developed that reduces connection failure and tubing wear. and enables injection of chemical corrosion inhibitors or viscosity-reduction fluids down the inside of the HR.

JPT Please read the full-length paper for additional detail. The higher stiffness of the HR string compared with the conventional-rod string reduces the accumulated elastic deformation during pumping operations. • Upset 48-mm HR rated at 3390 N. Conclusions By numerically modeling connections. The result is connection looseness to the point of separation. then continuing operations. • Upset 42-mm HR rated at 2035 N. The potential energy of the fluid acts on the pump in such a way that the pump behaves like a turbine as long as the column height produces a hydrostatic head higher than the well pressure. The pumping system accumulates energy as torsional elastic deformation of the rod string and as potential energy of the column of fluid being pumped.m torque. Abrasion and erosion from suspended solids are reduced making corrosion inhibitors more effective.Backspin. • An injection head to allow fluid injection from the surface (diluents and corrosion inhibitors). Field Applications Field and laboratory testing is ongoing. illustrations. The design includes a group of tubulars with a special external-flush joint having a wide range of torque to drive high-flow PCP systems. It is produced by the release of energy accumulated in the pumping system. or use of pumping motors with speed control that allow a controlled stop of the pumping system. Laboratory testing of the following elements is complete. Possible solutions include retightening loose connections. use of adhesives on the connection. it produces a higher countertorque. The externalflush connection reduces localized flow speeds at the connections reducing pressure drop. The paper from which the synopsis has been taken has not been peer reviewed. and references. Destruction and fatigue tests confirmed performance. This process can take tens of minutes and should be controlled by the brake on the wellhead motor. increasing accuracy of the injection point and simplifying the equipment needed. thus avoiding frequent tubing failures because of friction wear. Thus. a suitable HR was designed that can withstand the load conditions of a PCP system. • Hollow polished rods to allow injection from the surface. Field tests on wells pumping extraheavy oil in the Orinoco basin in Venezuela are being analyzed. This energy is released faster than the energy accumulated by the fluid column. Field tests confirmed the performance predicted by numerical models and laboratory tests. Backspin effect is reduced. Backspin occurs when the pumping system is stopped. • Polished-rod clamps and stuffing boxes for the required rod diameters.m torque. Artificial Lift 46 MAY 2001 . Diluent injection is through the HR. The flush connection reduces the contact between the rods and tubing. A reduction in well failures was achieved. The accumulated energy makes the rod string counterrotate. The most critical compo- nent of the accumulated energy is that caused by deformation. This phenomenon is known as backspin.

such as reperforation. Vent-Packer Completion To address the poor well performance. without a gasventing facility. then stabilized at approximately 0.000 bbl) over a period of several months. Helix Well Technologies.D. Apache Energy. Reservoir temperature is 125°F and oil viscosity at reservoir conditions is 7 cp. Initial ESP Completion Design The initial completion design used a shrouded ESP system. combined with horizontal-section trajectories. This valve was in the tailpipe below a deep-set retrievable packer. ESP lift through the tubing augmented by automated gas lift through the annulus. The ventpacker completions increased production rates by 15 to 20% compared with the original completion design. The completion design provides the option to produce the wells in any of the following ways. significant sand production began. The design allows natural flow through the annulus when reservoir conditions permit. Debottlenecking was achieved by eliminating the vent packer. SPE. or both. then ESP lift is initiated. SPE. or conventional compressordriven gas lift through the annulus.D. As shown in Fig. 1) were installed. The ESP’s were in the horizontal sections of the wells. for demulsifier and scale-inhibitor dosing. sand production also became intermittent. The glauconitic-sandstone reservoir is approximately 2.050 psi to approximately 700 psi. 47 MAY 2001 A r t ii f ii c ii a ll L ii f t Art f c a L ft . “Combined ESP/Automated-Gas-Lift Completions in HighGOR/High-Sand Wells on the Australian Northwest Shelf. the average reservoir pressure fell from approximately 1.” by K. In one well. were included. which stabilized at approximately 0. The completion design allows natural flow through either the tubing or the annulus. Chemical injection valves. Brisbane. SPE. causes terrain slugging in the wells. The other wells are either new wells or wells where other remediation measures. When the GOR declines and natural flow is no longer possible. A.C. which separates a proportion of the free gas and exhausts it through the annulus. free-gas fractions in excess of 80% are common at pump suction conditions. The flow from the horizontal section of the wells has a high gas fraction. Producing gas/oil ratios (GOR’s) were significantly higher than expected.J. conventional vent-packer high-GOR ESP completions (Fig. The high gas fraction. continuously slugs. with surface-controlled subsurface safety valves (SCSSSV’s) were included above the pump to provide downhole isolation of the annulus flow path. the valve is below the pump and isolation is provided for the entire system of tubing and annulus. This article is a synopsis of paper SPE 64466. ESP run life has been improved by more than 100%. However. Well Performance. ing-retrievable SCSSSV (TRSCSSSV) from the design. Australia. significant sand production began. • Compressor-driven gas-lift production through the annulus. and J. its associated SCSSSV and the shallow-set tub. Allan. automated gas lift occurs with liquid production through the annulus as well as the tubing. Combined ESP/AutomatedGas-Lift Completion The objective of redesigning the completion was to debottleneck the annulus flow path.ESP/Automated-Gas-Lift Completions for High-GOR. 2. A mechanically actuated fluid-loss valve.700 STB/D (60% increase) was achieved.1 vol% (approximately 870 lbm/1. Aitken. Thick-Sand Wells An electrical-submersible-pump (ESP)/automated-gas-lift completion was developed to overcome production challenges encountered in the Stag oil field. As a result. 40 miles northwest of Dampier. Following initial production in May 1998. • ESP lift through the tubing with automated gas lift up the annulus. a definitive incremental production rate of 1. The combined ESP/automated-gas-lift completions were installed in six of the eight production wells. annulus. were applied. Following the onset of water production in one well. After 1 year of production. automated gas lift of liquid through the annulus became intermittent. Introduction The Stag oil field is in 150 ft of water. Well productivities range from 5 to 30 bbl/(psi-D). Brodie. Vented packers. Following a decline in GOR and reservoir pressure. The pump was equipped with special gas-handling stages that precondition the gassy crude oil before it enters the conventional pump stages. In addition. Completion Reliability Following the increase in water production from 35 to 75% in Well A. Australia. The debottlenecked annulus allows the vortex gas separator to operate with greater efficiency. Holmes. SPE. • Natural flow through the tubing. When this happened. their behavior demonstrates that incremental production of 40 to 80% is the direct result of the improved completion design. less free gas enters the special gas-handling pump stages. and J. a TRSCSSSV was installed below the ESP system. Also. it became clear that the field had a larger-than-expected gas cap. also was used in the initial completion design. In their place. The vent-packer completions used a vortex rotary gas separator upstream of the pump. In turn. originally presented at the 2000 SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition. the reservoir pressure has depleted more rapidly than expected. 16–18 October. which is designed to isolate the reservoir during workovers.1% after several months. and carries large volumes of sand. Production in excess of 40 million bbl of 19°API oil is expected over the next 15 years. Consequently.230 ft below sea level and approximately 65 ft thick.

2—Combined ESP/automated-gas-lift completion. The design has enabled production rates up to 60% higher than could be achieved with a conventional vent-packer design. To distribute the load more effectively. resulting in an improved run life. Mixed-flow-type pumps were adopted. Also. and with the large quantities of sand produced. Erosion is proportional to the square of the operating speed. new abrasion-resistant coatings are being evaluated. solids transport in horizontal. The risk of solids deposition in each section of the well was determined by comparing the predicted threshold velocity profiles with the predicted mixture velocity profiles. The number of pump stages has been increased to enable effective operation at a lower operating frequency than was possible with the previous ESP specification. and references. this is an effective method to minimize abrasion. To investigate the movement of sand out of the wellbore. and to determine solids transport capability. The strategy of managing sand production at surface was adopted. A multiphase-flow well-performance model was built and history matched. Remedial sand control of the wells was considered. The design provides the flexibility to naturally flow through the tubing and/or annulus or to conventionally gas lift through the annulus. inclined. illustrations. which are required to ensure the varying particle sizes can be transported. the improved system had operated for 9 months at the time the paper was written. which are more tolerant of abrasive solids than the radial pumps used previously. Also. it is important that produced sand does not accumulate in the wellbore. Multiphase-Flow Solids-Transport Prediction. then were calculated along the length of the wellbore. Sensitivities then were run to predict mixture velocity and fluid property profiles over the range of possible production rates. Because downhole sand control is not used. therefore. Conclusions A combined ESP/automated-gas-lift completion design was developed for wells operating in a very hostile environment. ESP System Reliability. Harder materials have been specified for diffusers and impellers to improve abrasion resistance. Fig. 1—Vent-packer completion. The paper from which the synopsis has been taken has not been peer reviewed. The abrasion resistance of the ESP system has been upgraded. In a well where the ESP failed after 3 weeks. The threshold mixture velocities.Artificial Lift Fig. JPT Please read the full-length paper for additional detail. bearings were added for each stage. To improve abrasion resistance. but was rejected because of the probable significant reduction in productivity if screens were installed inside the preperforated liners. 48 MAY 2001 . it was necessary to ensure that the completions were protected against abrasion as much as possible. and vertical tubing and annular multiphase flow was modeled. zirconium bearings were replaced with silicon carbide bearings and bushings. Software tools were developed to determine well performance where liquid production splits into two streams.

of Texas at Austin. Podio. This paper focuses on three aspects: pressure drop through the valves. Laboratory Pumping System Experiments were conducted at the artificial-lift facilities of the Petroleum This article is a synopsis of paper SPE 67268. Instrumentation of a downhole pump will enable testing at various field conditions. . Sucker-Rod-Pump Dynamics Many investigations have studied the mechanisms involved in the pumping system. SPE.” by A.W. The polished rod load was measured with a compression-load cell between the polishedrod clamp and the carrier bar. Sandia Natl. and in the annular area. The pumping unit and the wellhead are standard oilfield components. Introduction Sucker-rod pumping is the principal method of artificial lift for fields where the reservoir pressure has been depleted. four pressure transducers were installed at the inlet. This difference corresponds to the pressure drop through the traveling valve and the internal passage through the plunger. The pressure difference is a maximum during the middle part of the downstroke because this portion of the stroke is where the plunger reaches maximum velocity. and M. calculated results were compared with downhole measurements of rod loads. It is much smaller in magnitude because of the larger flow area when compared with the traveling valve and plunger assembly. Pressure. 50 MAY 2001 Artificial Lift and Geosystems Engineering Dept. SPE. The sucker-rod pump is a 1:1 replica of a tubing pump. SPE. at the discharge of the pump. of the U. During the downstroke. liquid pump fillage and gas compression. A. The working barrel was constructed with Plexiglass to allow visualization of the inner regions. The laboratory pump enabled development of diagnostic techniques where pump performance can be verified visually. load. Harbison-Fischer. “Laboratory-Instrumented Sucker-Rod Pump. 24–27 March. SPE. Analyses of the compression-chamber pressure provide a better understanding of events during the time when both valves are closed. of Texas at Austin. Mansure. The quadratic nature of the relationship corroborates the findings of theoretical Fig. a small pressure difference between the pump intake and the barrel was observed. The standing valve was attached to the bottom of the tubing. inside the barrel. This pressure difference corresponds to the pressure drop through the standing valve. To validate modeling of the pumping system. Laboratory. U. An instrumented downhole pump is planned. and J. a clear suckerrod pump was instrumented in the laboratory. originally presented at the 2001 SPE Production and Operations Symposium. little understanding exists of pump performance under downhole conditions. Mahoney.J. Williams. Lifting cost is a major operating expense in these fields and producers strive to operate pumping systems at maximum efficiency with minimum downtime.Laboratory-Instrumented Sucker-Rod Pump To develop a knowledge base of sucker-rod pumps. SPE. Techniques are being developed for real-time diagnosis of fillage and gas locking. time curve. particularly the relationship between the pressure of the fluid flowing through the pump and the mechanical loads that develop during the pump stroke. To study the fluid dynamics in the sucker-rod pump. Gomez. it can affect gas breakout. Pressure Drop Across Valves. A pressure drop exists across both the standing and traveling valves when fluid flows through the valves.F. and position were measured. Clear acrylic pipe was used for the casing/tubing vertical wellbore. a significant difference is observed between the pressure inside the pump barrel and the discharge pressure.L. The steel plunger has a smooth sealing surface. Still. The instantaneous velocity of the plunger was obtained by differentiating the position vs. During the upstroke.J. and stuffing-box friction. and B. Oklahoma City. A video recorder was used to record the dynamics of the valves and fluids in the subsurface pump. This pressure drop can be used to determine the load applied to the plunger as a result of the pressure difference across the plunger. 1—Pressure difference between pump barrel and discharge as a function of plunger position during the downstroke. Also. A key element is measuring the compression-chamber pressure—pressure inside the pump barrel. Oklahoma.

illustrations. Gas breakout will affect the liquid entering the pump because the breakout gas occupies space that liquid could occupy. Several factors can lead to poor gas separation in the pump (gas not rising to the top of the compression chamber during the downstroke) and include high liquid viscosity. partially filled. it is possible to compress the gas sufficiently to raise the compression pump discharge pressure above the hydrostatic pressure causing the traveling valve to open. JPT Please read the full-length paper for additional detail. While both valves are closed. Pump Efficiency When gas is trapped between the standing and traveling valves at the beginning of the upstroke. The paper from which the synopsis has been taken has not been peer reviewed. Conclusions A laboratory system was developed that duplicates the operation of a fullscale pumping system. assuming the gas-trapping space is insignificant. The intake and barrel pressures during the upstroke are nearly identical (i. The traveling valve fails to open when the pump discharge pressure does not exceed the hydrostatic pressure in the tubing. Measurements of the stuffing-box friction in the laboratory equipment suggested that similar measurements could be made in the field and the results of one such test showed that stuffing-box friction can be a significant portion of polishedrod load. The zero-pressure line corresponds to the point where the pressure inside the pump barrel equals the discharge pressure. It may indirectly affect the rising of the gas up to where it will pass through the traveling valve during the downstroke. Data are for tests corresponding to different liquid fillage from full-pump to pumped-off conditions. The load variation for each cycle corresponds to the static friction between the polished rod and the stuffing box. If. the gas that breaks out during the decompression at the beginning of the upstroke will go back into solution during the compression at the beginning of the downstroke. equal to pump discharge pressure. a very low pressure drop through the standing valve when only gas is flowing through it). Fig. A special test was devised to measure the stuffingbox friction. the pressure inside the compression chamber (space inside the pump barrel between the standing and traveling valves) will be high. the standing valve will not open and the pump will gas lock. When gas is trapped between the valves. This does not result in a direct change in gas-bubble length. then the change in compression-chamber pressure is essentially instantaneous. The minimum pressure (negative value) for each curve corresponds to the point where the traveling valve opens. Stuffing-Box Friction. gas lock). In the compression/expansion cycle for full. Partial Pump Fillage.e. If there is sufficient fillage.. Compression-Chamber Pressure At the end of the downstroke.analysis and indicates that the pressure-drop mechanism is controlled primarily by turbulent flow. Under such conditions. gas is trapped between the standing and traveling valves and the expansion fails to drop the compression-chamber pressure below the pump-intake pressure. If no gas is trapped between the standing and traveling valves at the beginning of the upstroke and fluid compressibility is low. and references. The gas-locking mechanism can be modeled with pressure data. and high stroking rates. This was verified further by repeating the test after removing the stuffing box. 51 A r t ii f ii c ii a ll L ii f t Art f c a L ft MAY 2001 . high gas/liquid volumetric ratio at the pump intake. at pumping speeds from 5 to 15 strokes/min. first the standing valve won’t open. It is expected that this relationship can be generalized when additional tests with various liquid viscosities are undertaken.e. pump fillage was controlled by regulating the fluid rate entering the pump intake until a constant fillage was observed inside the pump barrel. as the length of the gas bubble increases with increasing gas/liquid ratio. the traveling valve closes when the upward flow through the valve stops.. assuming dead oil (oil for which no gas breaks out as the pressure drops). the gas/liquid ratio in the clearance space should approach the intake gas/liquid ratio corrected for compression. The pump must be stroked slow enough to allow the gas that enters the clearance space to rise and pass through the traveling valve during the downstroke. Gas Locking A pump can become gas-locked because of inadequate compression. Analysis of initial results indicates that it is possible to quantify the relationship between pressure drop through the valves and the plunger velocity by means of a quadratic relation. The full-length paper details calculations for modeling gas lock. the change in pressure. Fillage was varied from a 100% full pump to a totally pumpedoff condition where only gas was entering and leaving the pump barrel. during the upstroke. For steady intake and discharge pressures. The standing valve will not open until the pressure in the compression chamber drops below the pump intake pressure. During these tests. then the traveling valve won’t open. the standing valve will not open until the pressure in the compression chamber drops below the pump intake pressure. The sheave is rotated manually at the gear reducer in a sequence of equally spaced start/stop cycles. Live-Oil Effects For this discussion it was assumed that the breakout and corresponding dissolving back into solution occurs much faster than the volumetric changes of the pump such that the gas is always in equilibrium with the fluid. the pressure inside the compression chamber drops because the upward plunger motion expands the compressionchamber volume creating suction. Pump efficiency can be expressed in terms of the plunger travel and dead space as a function of the gas/liquid volumetric ratio. and pumped-off conditions. When the traveling valve closes. The well stops pumping when the gas/liquid ratio becomes great enough that the effective stroke length becomes zero (i. the compression mechanism behaves in an intermediate mode between isothermal and adiabatic. 1 shows the difference in pressure across the plunger during the portion of the downstroke before the traveling valve opens. In this case. can be approximated by gas laws.

Noonan. Subsurface gas-lift equipment must last the life of the well. Houston. hence the importance of filbe paid to ensure that the orifice port is tering well fluids. special attention must ulate-free. Static Modeling must be treated with a surface-harden. The Kuito develop. 52 MAY 2001 Usually. wireline or coiled tubing) to place new equipment in the side-pocket mandrels. the subsurface gas-lift equipment must be designed paying special attention to reliability and longevity. A valve must be sized to operate over a rule of thumb in the gas-lift industry wide range of flowing conditions. (API) erosional-velocity formula ment has sufficient injection pressure for pipelines was used. The operator pressure. and operating valves are designed for a wide range of producing conditions. 1 shows the initial phase of development: a 12-slot subsea production manifold. Chevron Petroleum Technology Co. Also. Dynamic modeling was used to determine the optimum orifice size for long-term operability over a range of injection rates. This article is a synopsis of paper OTC 11874. Either the nitrogen charge in can control this differential pressure by the dome can leak off or the bellows adjusting the gas-injection rate. the port in the operating valve must be sized on the basis of anticipated production conditions over the life of the well. especially at high gas-injection pressure across the valve. lift installation would have several unloading valves. Although unloading valves are very testing of gas-lift valves to determine reliable. eliminating the need for unload. and the unloading and operating procedures minimize erosion of the gas-lift valve and orifice. the American Petroleum avoid their use. and a single-point mooring (SPM) system for oil export. No literature was found regarding could fracture. Kenneth L. Too small a port will reduce the hardened material or special metallurproduction rate.e. “Subsea Gas-Lift Design for the Angola Kuito Development.. Because Kuito intervention cost is high. 1—Initial development of the Kuito field. and productivity indices. through the surface choke and the Artificial Lift . For the intervention motivates designs that Kuito design. and offloading (FPSO) vessel for processing.Inst. For pipelines.velocity and fluid density. This formula to achieve injection at the operating computes a C-value as a function of valve.sis assumes that the injection rate ing the unloading process. crude oil produced to a floating production..Subsea Gas-Lift Design for the Angola Kuito Development Stable production with minimal fluctuation in gas/liquid ratio (GLR) is critical when designing gas-lift systems for subsea applications. Cabinda Gulf Oil Co.Traditional nodal-analysis tools are ing process and the gas-injection rate static steady-state models.for a conventional orifice without ditions. however. Fig. The port in the square-edged orifice is less than 125 to avoid erosion.” by Shauna G. a remote gas-injection well. In many cases. methods to eliminate possibilities of failure are sought. not eroded during the unloading process. water cuts. unloading through the valve at high velocity for a valves work as intended. the recommended C-value ing valves. Decker. the prolonged period of time. failed equipment or a change in production conditions would be dealt with by use of light intervention methods (i. 1–4 May. the model was used to develop startup procedures that minimize erosional effects on the downhole orifice and help answer questions regarding cyclic-production pressures at the subsea wellhead. A conventional gasFig. gen charge present the possibility of the main influence is the differential failure. Therefore. Subsea Gas-Lift Design Because the cost of intervention in a subsea well is higher than that of a traditional completion. Because the orifice gy. Also. and Carl E. the orifice valve Dynamic vs. storage. Gas lift is used for artificial lift because the solution gas/oil ratio is 200 scf/bbl and “zeroflare” production is required.the abrasive nature of annulus fluids. It should be noted that the API Cvalve provides the only path to unload value assumes that the liquid is particannulus fluids. A nitrogen charge is contained Gas-Lift-Port Erosion between the structure of the valve and Erosion occurs when fluid flows the bellows. Mathisen.. originally presented at the 2000 Offshore Technology Conference. Aside from existence of the bellows and the nitro. The analymust be monitored at the surface dur. the possibility of their failure the rate of erosion as a function of difin a subsea completion and the cost of ferential pressure and time. Too uses a value of 450 as the maximum large a port allows unstable lifting con. Introduction The Kuito field is offshore Cabinda province in Angola. Decker Technology.

The orifices have a moveable check piston to keep the valves in a closed position until a preset differential pressure is applied. Initially. Usually. water cut) were determined. In many cases. Dynamic modeling of a gas-lift well can simulate the transient by tracking the amount of gas in the tubing string as a function of time and depth. If the injection rate at the surface is insufficient to maintain continuous injection at the orifice. these stability criteria are based on empirical evidence and can lead to an incorrect analysis. Copyright 2000 Offshore Technology Conference. Slugging in the risers caused pressure fluctuations at the wellhead.3125-in. As the dynamic model moves forward in time. The decision was made to circulate the workover fluid out of the wellbore and replace it with diesel at the end of the well completion. Kuito Gas-Lift Design and Operation Analysis The objective was to determine the optimum orifice size and operating strategy to provide stable production throughout the life of the well. Each case was run with three port sizes and each port size was simulated at three wellhead pressures. time and produced-fluid volume vs. Fluctuating Wellhead Pressure. for subsea gas-lift completions. Riser-system modeling predicted possible wellhead pressure cycles of 30 psi. resulting in unacceptable C-values for a period of time. 53 A r t ii f ii c ii a ll L ii f t Art f c a L ft MAY 2001 . and thereby allow fluid leakage into the annulus if the tubing pressure becomes greater than the annulus pressure. this transient will attenuate and the system will find a new equilibrium point. The paper from which the synopsis has been taken has not been peer reviewed. Each simulation determined the approximate gas-injection rate at which the production from the wellbore began to slug and become unstable. Graphs of gas-injection rate at the valve orifice vs. Results The Kuito wells were completed with single-point gas injection by use of 0. However. the dynamic gas-lift model was used to simulate 200-psi cycles at the wellhead to ensure that the system could continue to produce without problems. The velocity of this fluid would be difficult to control during the well startup and poses an erosion risk. The model was very effective in demonstrating to both parties how various components. the dynamic model can simulate the ensuing unstable flowing conditions. the differential pressure is reduced. When the minimum gas-injection rates for the various conditions (productivity index. making the system very sensitive to fluctuations in production pressure. and eventually. the dynamicmodeling tool can accurately predict unstable flowing conditions and specify an unloading scenario that will avoid erosion at the operating valve. Dynamic-modeling software was used for simulations that varied water cut. reservoir pressure. the amount of gas injected through the orifice will change. it was recommended to maintain pressure on the annulus to prevent fluid leakage when the well is shut in. Kuito wells flow naturally. to minimize the probability of transient behavior. As the injection rate increases. A certain amount of differential pressure should be maintained to minimize sensitivity to changing production pressure.5 to 2. instability decreases. static-analysis tools are sufficient to analyze the performance of a typical gas-lift well. Conclusions Normally. Operating Strategy. As the water cut increases. When the tubing pressure at the orifice drops below that in the annulus. Check valves are not pressure seals. the required minimum injection rate increases also. the GLR in the tubing string will become a function of time and depth. However. volume of injected gas were used to estimate the minimum gas-injection rate required to operate the well in a stable manner. and whenever the tubing or annulus pressure changes. The development of surfacecontrolled gas-lift valves should simplify and reduce the time required to optimize orifice-size determination. cases exist where the transient will become unstable. Nevertheless. the differential pressure should be 150 to 200 psi. Orifice Size. Traditional nodal-analysis tools attempt to use stability criteria to determine transient stability.5 MMscf/D gasinjection range. JPT Please read the full-length paper for additional detail. When a large port starts to erode. However. and productivity index. and references. Dynamic modeling is required to investigate transient performance in a well or. The larger the orifice. With the orifice selected. reservoir pressure. which is relatively small. both downhole and surface. a stable operating point is reached. As a result. This cycle occurs during the initial startup of the well and after a workover. each port size was evaluated on its performance in the expected 1. It also occurs during a normal operational shut-in.-diameter square-edged ori- fices made of hardened materials. The unloading cycle is the most critical because liquids pass through the orifice at high velocities. illustrations. this assumption is not assured. Simulations predicted that the diesel would remain in the annulus until displaced by injecting gas. and reservoir inflow at each timestep. the gas-injection rate at the orifice. a transient is initiated in both the annulus and the tubing.subsurface orifice are equal and that the GLR throughout the length of the tubing string will be constant. If the injection rate through the orifice is different from that at the surface choke. the higher the minimum injection rate needed for a stable system. Because the check valve in the orifice is not expected to function effectively after several unloading cycles. in the case of a new well. affect the wells’ operation. Pressure fluctuations at the wellhead caused by slugging in the production lines can be controlled by increasing the gas-lift injection rate. an operating strategy is needed to prevent erosion. Dynamic-modeling software was used to develop an unloading sequence to reduce the risk of erosion. the workover fluid passes through at very high velocities. even though the orifice used at Kuito has a check valve. it calculates annulus and tubing pressures. On the basis of industry experience with subsea completions. Dynamic modeling enabled a close working relationship between the downhole-completion and facilityoperation personnel during the initial design phase of this project. This mechanism enables an annular pressure test.