Liquids-rich gas plays present significant challenges to producers to keep wells flowing and maximize production. In particular, liquid loading is a frequent issue as production rates decline and flow rates are no longer sufficient to keep liquids entrained in the gas stream. Many strategies exist and have been attempted over the years for attempting to keep these wells flowing and avoid liquid loading.

Perhaps the most attractive option is wellhead compression, which will lower wellhead pressures and increase flowrates, both items necessary to eliminate liquid loading. By reducing wellhead pressures, compressors will also increase the recoverable assets of a well. Traditional compression is not able to operate with liquids present and thus requires additional infrastructure and facilities to separate, store, and transport the liquids. Multiphase production facilities are a good solution to eliminate the need for additional infrastructure at the wellhead, and instead move the multiphase flow downstream to a central facility for processing. However, the more common multiphase pump technologies suffer from low efficiencies in the high gas volume fraction (GVF) conditions typical in liquids-rich gas wells.

A new multiphase compression technology is identified with the potential to achieve the benefits of multiphase production while operating at efficiencies closer to a traditional compressor. Testing is conducted with the new technology on several different wet gas wells in the Eagle Ford. Testing shows that the compressor is successfully able to handle a multiphase stream coming directly from the well without any additional separation facilities. Additional testing further demonstrates that the compressor may even be able to unload a well that is already loaded.

Further testing and development work will be required to broaden the conditions at which the compressor can operate and to prove that it can successfully maintain a variety of different wells flowing above their critical rates and unloaded. Initial indications are very promising and suggest that the new compressor technology will be a powerful tool for producers to use in maximizing the production of liquids-rich wells.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.