Accurate prediction of the average plunger rise velocity is important to optimally unload liquid from a plunger lifted well. A modified Foss and Gaul model presented in this paper predicts the minimum build casing pressure criteria to open the motor controlled valve for a selected plunger rise velocity. Results from the modified Foss and Gaul model are contrasted with results from the original Foss and Gaul model. The minimum build casing pressures predicted using both models are compared to measured casing pressures at the same rise velocities measured from field data acquired on 10 different plunger lifted wells.

During the shut-in time period the plunger falls through gas, liquid and then rests at bottom on the bumper spring. At the end of this time period when the surface valve opens sufficient pressure is required to build to enough magnitude to unload the accumulated liquid and conventional plunger from the bottom of the well to the surface. An industry rule-of-thumb load factor criterion is frequently used to determine at what casing pressure build, Pc, the well should be opened to unload the liquid to the surface. The best technique to predict the maximum casing build pressure, Pcmax, is to use a Foss and Gaul type model to predict the rise velocity within a range of 500-1000 feet per minute (fpm), more optimally at 750 fpm that will unload the plunger and liquid to the surface.

The modified Foss and Gaul model favorably predicts a required casing operating pressure to bring the plunger and liquid to the surface at a specified average rise velocity. Using the modified model will allow an operator to determine the maximum shut-in casing pressure a plunger lifted well should be allowed to build before opening the valve and safely bring the plunger to the surface.

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