Abstract

The number of wells drilled using underbalanced technique is increasing rapidly due to the advantages of this technology, i.e., increased penetration rate, minimized lost circulation and differential sticking, reduced formation damage and many environmental benefits. During Coiled Tubing (CT) underbalanced operations, gas-liquid mixtures are commonly used. In order to accomplish a successful drilling program, hydraulic calculations concerning two-phase fluid system should be carried out carefully. Since the flow geometry is mostly fully eccentric annuli in horizontal section of the wellbore, a realistic mechanistic model is essential. Although there are numerous studies available for two-phase flow through circular pipes, less is known about the flow of two-phase fluids though annular geometries. Commonly used methodology is using hydraulic diameter for representing the annular geometry, and using the circular pipe correlations by replacing the circular diameter with hydraulic diameter. It is observed that a better methodology is needed for basic hydraulic calculations. Therefore, in this study, horizontal flow of gas-liquid mixtures through fully-eccentric annuli is investigated. A mechanistic model is proposed for estimating frictional pressure losses, which can be used for both circular pipes and annular geometries by introducing a representative diameter term. Flow pattern identification is developed inheriting basic concepts proposed by Taitel-Dukler 1. The model results are compared with experimental data obtained from two different annular geometries (4.5in X 2.25in and 3.672in X 1.92in) at Middle East Technical University - Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering Department - Cuttings Transport and Multiphase Flow Loop. It is observed that, for representing the annular geometries, introduced representative diameter works significantly more accurately than hydraulic diameter. Additionally, flow patterns can be estimated better if representative diameter term is used. It is concluded that, the proposed mechanistic model can identify the flow patterns correctly and estimate frictional pressure losses with an accuracy of less than 20% when compared with the experimental data.

Introduction

The application of coiled tubing (CT) in petroleum industry can be considered as a major innovation dating back to 1960's. Due to its economic advantage, growing area of application parallel with technological advances, CT industry has the fastest growth in the global petroleum sector. CT applications reduce the risk of formation damage and have many other significant economic benefits in case of proper applications. Recently, drilling applications have shown a remarkable growth due to its advantages, i.e., pressure control, fast tripping time, small weight, fast rigup and rigdown, lower environmental impact, high speed of data transmission from well 2. Some examples of multiphase flows in CT applications are annular flows, vertical two-phase flow through production tubing, acid jobs with nitrified acid, and underbalanced drilling. The liquid phase is generally composed of water and oil, and the gas phase is usually composed of nitrogen, air or natural gas. With the development of challenging fields and drilling in depleted reservoirs the number of underbalanced drilling (UBD) operations has increased. While planning the UBD, flow dynamics in the wellbore should be determined carefully. The fluid mechanics and hydraulic parameters should be properly taken into account during the mathematical development of the wellbore hydraulics of CT applications in UBD. Hole-cleaning and keeping the bottomhole pressure within a reasonable window are some of the major challenges during UBD. The drilling parameters are functions of wellbore inclination and the wellbore dimension. Therefore, in order to determine the design parameters for such wells accurately, the flow behavior of aerated fluids through annular geometries should be well understood.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.