Multiphase Flow in Wells
- James P. Brill (U. of Tulsa)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1987
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 15 - 21
- 1987. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 5.6.5 Tracers, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 3.3.1 Production Logging, 3.1.5 Plunger lift, 4.2.5 Offshore Pipelines, 5.8.8 Gas-condensate reservoirs, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.2.4 Risers
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Distinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptiverepresentations that summarize the state of the art in an area of technology bydescribing recent developments for readers who are not specialists in thetopics discussed. Written by individuals recognized as experts in the area,these articles provide key references to more definitive work and presentspecific details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to informthe general readership of recent advances in various areas of petroleumengineering.
Summary. Multiphase flow can occur throughout the production system. Thefluids involved in multiphase flow in the petroleum industry are multicomponentmixtures with complex phase behavior. Petroleum engineers are faced with theneed to predict the relationships between flow rates, pressure drop, and piping(geometry or reservoir fluids produced during,, the life of a field. This paperreviews the historical (Development of design tools used to address theseunique multiphase-flow features. State-of-the-art technology is alsopresented.
Multiphase flow can occur throughout the entire production system involvedin flowing fluids from oil and gas reservoirs to processing facilities at thesurface. The production system in this context includes the reservoir: the wellcompletion: the tubulars that connect the reservoir to the surface: all surfacefacilities on land, seabed. or offshore platform and any pipelines that carryproduced fluids to other processing facilities. The multiphase flow encounteredin producing oil and gas can be any combination of a saturations phase, ahydrocarbon liquid phase, and a water phase.
A vast amount of technical information on multiphase flow in pipes isavailable in the literature. Many of these sources are related to otherindustries and involve different types of- fluids. The reference list for thispaper clearly demonstrates the diversity of interest in multiphase flow inpipes. In particular, significant contributions have been made in the nuclearindustry. where a major concern is a possible loss-of--coolant accident in anuclear reactor. These studies involve the transient simulation of two-phase,single-component (water) fluid flow in piping systems.
Multiphase flow in the petroleum industry has many unique features thatcreate complications not encountered by other industries. The fluids involvedare multicomponent mixtures whose phase behavior is extremely complex. Therange of pressures and temperatures encountered in production systems isextremely broad. Pressures can range from 15.000 psia [100 MPa] to nearatmospheric conditions.
Temperatures can range from 400deg.F [200deg.C) to below the freezing,temperature of water. Pipe lengths can vary from a few feet to several hundredmiles for surface pipe or pipelines and from a few hundred feet to more than20,000 ft (6100) mi for wells. Piping, systems often involve significantvariations in (geometry, such as inclination angle. Diameter, pipe roughness,and even shape, such as when fluids flow in the annular space between casingand tubing in a wellbore. Although most vertical piping systems involve upflow,it is not uncommon to have multiphase downward flow in injection wells ordowncomers connecting, offshore platforms to subsea pipelines. Simulationmultiphase flow in wells also requires the ability to predict fluidtemperatures in a system that undergoes complex heat transfer phenomena betweenthe reservoir and the surface. The entire wellbore is surrounded by a huge rockvolume, much of which may even be frozen, as in the case of permafrost inarctic locations.
Engineers in the petroleum industry are faced with the requirement topredict the relationships between flow rates, pressure drop, and pipinggeometry (length, diameter, angle, etc.) for the fluids produced from areservoir over the entire life of the field. The objective of this paper is toreview the historical development of design tools used to address the uniquemultiphase-flow features of the petroleum industry, including an evaluation ofthe state of the art.
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