Summary

Problems with existing procedures used to estimate gas pressure/volume/temperature (PVT) properties are identified. The situation is reviewed, and methods are proposed to alleviate these problems. Natural gases are derived from two basic sources: associated gas, which is liberated from oil, and gas condensates, where hydrocarbon liquid, if present, is vaporized in the gas phase. The two gases are fundamentally different in that a high-gravity associated gas is typically rich in ethane through pentane, while gas condensates are rich in heptanes-plus. Additionally, either type of gas may contain nonhydrocarbon impurities such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. Failure to distinguish properly between the two types of gases can result in calculation errors in excess of those allowable for technical work. Sutton (1985) investigated high-gravity gas/condensate gases and developed methods for estimating pseudocritical properties that resulted in more-accurate Z factors. The method is suitable for all light natural gases and the heavier gas/condensate gases. It should not be used for high-gravity hydrocarbon gases that do not contain a significant heptanes-plus component. The original Sutton database of gas/condensate PVT properties has been expanded to 2,264 gas compositions with more than 10,000 gas-compressibility-factor measurements. A database of associated-gas compositions containing more than 3,200 compositions has been created to evaluate suitable methods for estimating PVT properties for this category of gas. Pure-component data for methane (CH4), methane-propane, methane-n-butane, methane-n-decane, and methane-propane-n-decane have been compiled to determine the suitability of the derived methods. The Wichert (1970) database of sour-gas-compressibility factors has been supplemented with additional field and pure-component data to investigate suitable adjustments to pseudocritical properties that ensure accurate estimates of compressibility factors. Mathematical representations of compressibility-factor charts commonly used by the engineering community and methods used by the geophysics community are investigated. Generally, these representations/methods are robust and have been found suitable for ranges beyond those recommended originally. Natural-gas viscosity, typically estimated through correlation, has been found to be inadequate for high-gravity gas condensates, requiring revised procedures for accurate calculations.

Introduction

Since its publication, the Standing and Katz (1942) (SK) gas Z-factor chart has become a standard in the industry. Several very accurate methods have been developed to represent the chart digitally. The engineering community typically uses methods published by Hall and Yarborough (1973, 1974) (HY), Dranchuk et al. (1974) (DPR), and Dranchuk and Abou-Kassem (1975) (DAK). These methods all use some form of an equation of state that has been fitted specifically to selected digital Z-factor-chart data published by Poettmann and Carpenter (1952). The geophysics community typically uses a method developed by Batzle and Wang (1992) (BW). Recently, Londono et al. (2002) (LAB) refitted the chart with an expanded data set, resulting in a modified DAK method. They provided two equations: one fit to an expanded data set from the SK Z-factor chart and another that included pure-component data.

A general gas Z-factor chart, such as the one developed by Standing and Katz (1942), is based on the principle of corresponding states (Katz et al. 1959). This principle states that two substances at the same conditions referenced to critical pressure and critical temperature will have similar properties. These conditions are referred to as reduced pressure and reduced temperature. Therefore, if two substances are compared at the same reduced conditions, the substances will have similar properties. In the context of this paper, the property of interest is the gas Z factor. Mathematically, the SK chart relates Z factor to reduced pressure and reduced temperature.

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