Evaluation of Valve Port Size, Surface Chokes and Fluid Fall-Back in Intermittent Gas-Lift Installations
- Kermit E. Brown (The U. Of Texas) | Frank W. Jessen (The U. Of Texas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 315 - 322
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.2.2 Perforating, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating
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By utilizing an 8,000-ft experimental field well equipped with 10 gaslift valves and 10 Maihak pressure recorders, gas-lift tests were conducted with port sizes ranging from 5/16 through 1 in. The well was equipped to provide accurate means of measuring surface pressures, temperatures, quantity of injection gas and fluid production. The tests were conducted in 2 3/8-in. OD tubing, and the well was making 95 per cent water. A complete evaluation of gas-lift-valve port sizes shows the relationship of per cent recovery, gas-liquid ratios, minimum pressure created at the operating valve and horsepower requirements for each port. The length of time necessary for the fluid in the tubing to reach equilibrium conditions after each cycle was recorded. Fall-back of fluid at depths of 477, 969, 1,685, 2,493 and 4,290 ft was noted. For each port size, pressure loads of 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450 psi were lifted with a valve operating at approximately 550 psi at 6,000 ft. Gas-liquid ratios for each load were varied from excess gas to a gas volume per cycle whereby the load failed to reach the surface. Numerous curves are presented in evaluating the accumulated data. The results show a 1-in. port to be the most efficient under all conditions. The production of intermittent liquid slugs against different-sized surface chokes was evaluated. These tests were conducted from a 7/16-in. ported valve at 4,072 ft. Tests indicate that, when possible, a 3/4-in. in diameter choke or larger should be used at the surface.
In the past few years most of the advancement in gas-lift operations has been made in continuous-flow operations. Yet, it is estimated that at least 70 per cent of the wells on gas lift in the United States are of the intermittent type. Since the term "slug flow" is sometimes used in both intermittent- and continuous-flow operations, it would be well to distinguish between the two types of flow. Continuous-flow gas lift is defined as a method whereby the fluids are produced at a continuous rate at the surface. This generally requires a continuous injection of gas through a surface choke; however, various other control devices sometimes are installed to eliminate freezing, to shut-off gas during natural flow periods, etc. The actual flow of fluids in the tubing may be of the slug type (one of many flow patterns known to exist in continuous flow). Intermittent flow is defined as a method of gas lift whereby the liquid is produced in separate piston-type slugs. Perhaps this type of flow could best be thought of as a ballistic type flow where the liquid leaves bottom as a piston, propelled by a slug of expanding gas. Gas generally is injected through some type of control at the surface at predetermined intervals. However, the valve may have characteristics whereby gas can be injected through a small choke and still result in a ballistic-type flow. The purpose of the experimental work was to evaluate the most efficient port size to be used on the operating valve for the ballistic type of lift and, in addition, to establish the importance of utilizing a surface choke large enough to allow slugs to be produced without detrimental effects. This work is part of a comprehensive study of both intermittent and continuous-flow gas lift, representing a joint project conducted by the Ohio Oil Co., the Sun Oil Co., Otis Engineering Corp. and The U. of Texas. The problem of evaluating port sizes has been given little previous attention. Some work undoubtedly has been done which has not been published to date. Some tests were conducted when the wireline, mechanically-opened valve (Nixon) first came on the market. This valve was capable of utilizing full tubing area as its port size. It is known that this was a very efficient valve, but to the authors' knowledge the results of tests have never been published.
These tests were conducted on an actual field well, the Ohio-Sun Unit Well No. 2-E, in the North Markham- North Bay City field, Matagorda County, Tex. The well incorporated 2 3/8-in. OD tubing and produced 95 per cent water. Since the running of equipment was to be quite elaborate and expensive, a well was selected in which both intermittent- and continuous- flow tests could be conducted. This particular well was capable of producing in excess of 1,000 B/D of liquid (95 per cent salt water), yet with a 3/64-in. in diameter bottom-hole choke, production was controlled to 82 B/D. Most of the intermittent tests were conducted at this low rate. Figs. 1 and 2 show all the surface and downhole equipment. As can be seen, every attempt was made to insure that ample equipment was available for reliable testing procedures. Fig. 1 shows the surface testing equipment.
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