In any onshore gas installation, bath-heaters and high pressure separators are provided as standard surface facilities to take production from high pressure wells having hydrate forming tendency. Medium pressure separators are also provided to take production from medium pressure gas wells. The paper deliberates on an optimized surface installation for handling high pressure well fluids with possibilities of hydrate formation. The study has been carried out through steady state multiphase simulation considering pressure & production profile of the wells, consumer requirement and flow assurance i.e. hydrate formation. An optimized process scheme and production strategy is presented for early production from both high pressure and medium pressure gas wells in a single separator and without any bath heater.
Based on well test data, well completion data and pressure profile, simulation studies are carried out in steady-state multiphase flow simulation software to look into possibility of hydrate formation in the flow lines or in process piping. Flow from wells having high well-head pressures in the range of 120 to 165 kg/cm2g (ksc) are simulated by varying the separator pressure, flow line size & length and choke arrangement. Flow simulations are carried out for different choke combinations and flow line arrangements to keep well fluid temperature above hydrate formation temperature in the entire flow path from well head to separators.
It was established from simulations that flow from the well having highest production as well as highest well head pressure of 165 ksc can be taken by operating the separator at 33 ksc and adopting a multi-choke arrangement along the flow line without any possibility of hydrate formation in the system. The multi-choke arrangement consists of putting chokes including well head choke at well site, at installation inlet and the final choke at installation inlet manifold. The arrangement also envisages additional small length of flow line as buried portion near installation inlet to take advantage of heat gain from soil. From 2nd year onwards of the profile period, it is observed that with reduction in well head pressure to 132 ksc as per profile, the well can be produced by operating the separator at lower pressure without any hydrate formation. For rest of the wells, only multi-choke arrangement is found to be sufficient to prevent hydrate problem while operating the separator at even lower pressure throughout the profile period. It is also observed that higher production can be taken from the wells from 2nd year onwards on account of operating the separator at lower pressure.
The optimized scheme has marked deviation from the earlier proposed standard scheme with substantial reduction in number of equipment and consequent reduction in CAPEX & OPEX. This novel process scheme and production strategy eliminate the need for investment in both high pressure separator and hydrate mitigation measures like heat tracing, methanol injection or bath-heaters. This innovative production strategy also facilitates better recovery from the gas wells on account of operating the separator at lower pressure.