The Effect of Turbulence on Flow of Natural Gas Through Porous Reservoirs
- M.R. Tek (U. Of Michigan) | K.H. Coats (U. Of Michigan) | D.L. Katz (U. Of Michigan)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 799 - 806
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.3.4 Scale
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The nature and the limits of validity of Darcy's law as applied to the flow of natural gas through reservoirs has been considered in order to resolve some controversial aspects of the effect of turbulence on pressure drops. The equivalence between various concepts and viewpoints advanced in the past by several investigators to explain how and why a gas well does not necessarily perform according to Darcy's law is shown. Starting with generalized equations of flow of fluids through porous media, a partial differential equation has been derived which accurately represents the flow at all rates. This equation has been numerically solved using an IBM 704 digital computer. The results permit plots of unsteady radial pressure distribution curves from which specific isochronal backpressure curves may be constructed. These back-pressure curves show the effect of the fl factor on the slope of the back-pressure curve. The calculations further indicate that the drainage radius for a gas well in turbulent flow propagates at a rate dependent upon the rate of production at the wellbore. This is quite different from the case with liquid flow or natural-gas flow in laminar regime. Additionally, the effect of reservoir inhomogeneities and crossflow between layers of different permeability on the back-pressure performance of gas wells has been considered red. In light of the current numerical results the significance and limitation of the rate of flow function Y proposed by Smith has been discussed.
The relationship between the pressure drop and flow rate in problems of fluid flow through porous media is known to be affected by the nature of flow through the porous matrix. It has been observed by many that, for a range of flow rates, the pressure drop remains proportional to the rate of flow. When some flow rate is reached, however, it is usually observed that the pressure drop gradually begins to increase more than proportionally to the flow rate. It is well known that this phenomenon was first observed by Osborne Reynolds in 1901 in experimenting with flow through pipes. In his classical experiments. Reynolds made visual observations on the condition of streamlines evidenced by injecting a dye into water flowing through glass tubes. In these experiments, the abrupt transition between steady, "streamline, laminar" flow and unsteady random turbulent flow was found to be a function of the dimensionless group (D / ), now known as the Reynolds number. During these experiments, in addition to observations on the nature of flow regimes, the proportionality between flow rate and pressure drop in laminar flow was contrasted with the nonlinearity between these variables in turbulent flow. Fancher and Lewis reported data on various consolidated and unconsolidated sands in 1933. Their conclusions were that ". . . the flow of fluids through these porous materials closely resembles that through pipes; that there is a condition of flow in porous systems which resembles viscous flow, another which corresponds to turbulent; that the change from one type to the other takes place at a definite and reproducible condition for each system". In 1947, Brownell and Katz published a method to predict the laminar and turbulent flow behavior from the particle size, bed porosity and the particle sphericity, employing the friction factor-Reynolds number charts for pipes. Several investigators have verified the work of Fancher, Lewis and Barnes and presented their data as friction factor-vs-Reynolds number plots. The equation which would represent the pressure gradient over the whole range of velocity must have an added term over that represented by Darcy's law. Accordingly, the pressure gradient necessary to sustain flow at the velocity (v) through a porous medium may be represented by the following equation, suggested by Forscheimer.
The nature and the range of validity of Darcy's law has been the subject of studies by many investigators over the past years. While everyone seemed to agree on the need for a quadratic correction term to Darcy's law to make it effective over the range of velocities, the concept of inception of turbulence and the use of the term "turbulent flow" remained controversial.
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