Rapid Analysis of Condensate Systems by Chromatography
- D.M. Kehn
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 435 - 440
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.3.4 Scale
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Kehn, D.M., Member AIME, Humble Oil and Refining Co., Houston, Tex.
Quantitative analysis of hydrocarbons from natural gas reservoirs is necessary for several reasons-to calculate the amount of sales gas produced, to calculate the amount of natural gasoline produced, to plan a liquid recovery system, or to calculate the potential economic value of a reservoir produced under one or more of several different conditions. Analysis of natural gas fluids produced to the surface consists of identifying and computing the mol fraction of each component of the mixture. Although methane is the predominant component, varying amounts of ethane, propane, butane, pentanes and heavier components are also present. Materials containing up to 30 carbon atoms occur in amounts which decrease with increasing molecular weight. However, the quantities of components in the 20 to 30 carbon atom range are usually so small that their importance is negligible, and they are undetectable in natural gas by ordinary analytical methods. All the components up to those having 20 carbon atoms may significantly affect phase behavior, however. Commonly, only the methane-through-pentane fraction is analyzed quantitatively for each component, while components heavier than pentane are lumped and reported as "hexane- plus". Expensive, tedious techniques are required for analysis of this fraction. Consequently the detailed analyses needed for prediction of reservoir behavior are usually undertaken only when major gas fields are being developed.
The need for complete analyses of condensate systems is apparent when it is recalled that most gas fields are produced by pressure depletion. As the pressure declines, some of the heavier hydrocarbons are lost as liquids which condense in the reservoir. In many instances the amount of liquid in equilibrium with the gas phase at high pressure constitutes only 1 or 2 mol per cent of the total system. Flash calculations generally must predict the actual amount of liquid with an accuracy of a few per cent in order to be useful. This retrograde condensation has been understood for years, but accurate correlation methods to permit quantitative prediction of phase behavior in the retrograde region are not presently available. The increasing importance of natural gas has made accurate prediction of phase behavior and composition of produced natural gas streams an economic necessity. The work reported here was undertaken to provide a rapid, economical method for obtaining the vapor-liquid equilibrium information needed to predict accurately the composition of the fluids produced from a gas reservoir throughout its life. To develop this method, a pressure cell equipped with windows was designed and built for observing the volumes of liquid and gas present at reservoir pressures and temperatures. Use was made of established chromatographic methods for rapid and detailed analysis of both phases. This paper describes the equipment and techniques developed for obtaining vapor-liquid equilibrium data, presents the results of analyses of a condensate system, and indicates the usefulness of these data in predicting hydrocarbon phase behavior.
DESCRIPTION OF EQUIPMENT USED
The equipment used in obtaining the required information on phase behavior and the complete analysis of hydrocarbon mixtures through C20 will be described first, followed by a discussion of the operation of the equipment. It will be helpful, however, to consider first a brief outline of the technique used. A sample of separator gas and liquid is charged to the windowed cell where volumetric equilibrium phase behavior at reservoir pressures and temperatures can be determined. Then sample of the coexisting phases are withdrawn.
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