Downhole Natural Gas Separation Efficiency (NGSE) is flow regime dependent, and current analytical models in certain conditions lack accuracy. Downhole NGSE was investigated through 3D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) transient simulations for pumping wells in the Churn flow regime. The Volume of Fluid (VOF) multiphase model was considered along with the k – ε turbulence model for most simulations. A mesh independence study was performed, and the final model results validated against experimental data, showing an average error of less than 6 %. Numerical simulation results showed that the steady state assumption used by current mathematical models for churn flow can be inaccurate. Several key parameters affecting the NGSE were identified, and suggestions for key improvements to the widely used mathematical formulations for viscous flow provided. Sensitivity studies were conducted on fluid/geometric parameters and operating conditions, to gain a better understanding of the influence of each parameter on NGSE. These are important results as they equip the ESP engineer with additional knowledge to maximise the NGSE from design stage to pumping operations.

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