The effects of horizontal well geometry remain debatable in most production modeling works. Most of recent reports fail to mention the effects of well geometries, especially in severe slugging cases. This study presents a qualitative comparison between different well geometries and their impacts in production performance of horizontal wells.

The study utilizes a transient multiphase simulator to mimic the production from a horizontal well over a 12-hour period. The well has a 2-7/8″ ID tubing with TVD of approximately 5000 ft and MD of 10000 ft and maximum inclination angle of 10º within the horizontal section. The trajectories of horizontal section in the well include 5 cases, 5 undulations, hump (one undulation upward), sump (one undulation downward), toe-up and toe-down. These configurations are the representative examples of horizontal wells. A reservoir with a given deliverability equation and several perforation stages is used to provide well inflow. The impacts of reservoir deliverability, GOR, pressure and temperature are studied for all well geometries.

The simulation results offer some valuable insights into the effects of well trajectory on production performance, including borehole pressure profile, liquid holdup, gas and liquid rate variations with time, and cumulative gas and liquid production. At high production rates, severe slugging is not observed, and thus, the well geometry effects are minimized with a consistent production at the surface. However, toe-up configuration exhibits a slightly better performance than the others.

As the productivity and pressure reduces throughout the life of a well, the impacts of well trajectories become clearer. The presence of severe slugs and blockage of perforations near the toes causes a noticeable drop in production. During severe slugging, the pressure profile reveals longer fluctuation cycles, resulting in extreme separator flooding issues. The slugging frequencies are compared among different well geometries. Toe-down case exhibits lower slugging severity. As a result, toe-down well produces the highest cumulative liquid and gas rates. The presence of liquid blockage is observed in lateral and curvature sections. The toe-up and hump configurations exhibit the most severe slugs with minimum cumulative gas and liquid productions. The differences in productions among well trajectories exceed 30% under different well configurations.

With the augmented growth of production from unconventional reservoirs, horizontal well technology has grown in oil and gas industry, yet study of well geometry in production system remains to be limited. This study is a unique effort to optimize well configuration and perforation placement in order to alleviate multiphase flow problems in the wellbore. Providing the practical potential on simulation works, this study provides a predictive guidline to connect well geometry selection and production optimization.

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