Gas viscosity is an important fluid property in petroleum engineering due to its impact in oil and gas production and transportation where it contributes to the resistance to the flow of a fluid both in porous media and pipes. Although the property has been studied thoroughly at low to intermediate pressures and temperatures, there is lack of detailed knowledge of gas viscosity behavior at high pressures and high temperatures (HPHT) in the oil and gas industry.
The need to understand and be able to predict gas viscosity at HPHT has become increasingly important as exploration and production has moved to ever deeper formations where HPHT conditions are more likely to be encountered. Knowledge of gas viscosity is required for fundamental petroleum engineering calculations that allow one to optimize the overall management of a HPHT gas field and to better estimate reserves. Existing gas viscosity correlations are derived using measured data at low to moderate pressures and temperatures, i.e. less than 10,000 psia and 300 oF, and then extrapolated to HPHT conditions. No measured gas viscosities at HPHT are currently available, and so the validity of this extrapolation approach is doubtful due to the lack of experimental calibration.
The falling body viscometer is selected to measure gas viscosity for a pressure range of 3,000 to 24,500 psia and temperature range of 100 to 415 oF. Nitrogen was used to calibrate the instrument and to account for the fact that the concentrations of non-hydrocarbons are observed to increase dramatically in HPHT reservoirs. Then methane viscosity is measured to reflect the fact that, at HPHT conditions, the reservoir fluids will be very lean gases, typically methane with some degree of impurity. The experiments showed that while the correlation of Lee et al. accurately estimates gas viscosity at low to moderate pressure and temperature, it does not provide a good match to gas viscosity at HPHT conditions.
HPHT gas reservoirs are defined as having pressures greater than 10,000 psia and temperatures over 300ºF. Modeling the performance of these unconventional reservoirs requires the understanding of gas behavior at elevated pressure and temperature. An important fluid property is gas viscosity, as it is used to model the gas mobility in the reservoir that can have a significant impact on reserves estimation during field development planning.
Accurate measurements of gas viscosity at HPHT conditions are both extremely difficult and expensive. Thus, this fluid property is typically estimated from published correlations that are based on laboratory data.
Unfortunately, the correlations available today do not have a sufficiently broad range of applicability in terms of pressure and temperature, and so their accuracy may be doubtful for the prediction of gas viscosity at HPHT conditions.