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The rate of fluid flow through rock depends on the following variables: pressure gradients, fluid saturation, fluid viscosities, and rock properties, the most important of which is permeability. Absolute permeability is a measure of the ease with which a fluid is able to flow through a reservoir rock when there is only one fluid present. It is measured in millidarcies. The higher the value the easier it is for the fluid to flow. Because of the way in which a formation is deposited, permeability can vary markedly in rocks only a few feet apart or even have different values for different directions through the same rock section ( Figure 1 ). This property of the rock is permeability anisotropy. Because of reservoir heterogeneities, then, permeability is a directional property.

Figure 1

As we see in Darcys equation:

(1.1) the rate of liquid flow per cross-sectional area in a given direction (q/A) is equal to the permeability in that direction (k), the pressure gradient (dp/dl), and the inverse of the liquid viscosity (). The negative sign is included because flow takes place in the negative pressure gradient direction. This is an empirical relationship proposed by M. Musket and H.D. Botset in the 1930s, founded on the work of Darcy over 100 years ago (Musket; 1981, 1949).


The equations of flow tell us that when a well is first opened to production, a pressure wave moves through the reservoir causing the pressure in the affected region to decrease continuously with time. Under these transient or infinite-acting conditions, the pressure at any given radius drops rapidly at first and then stabilizes with time. The pressure at the wellbore, pwf, follows the same pattern for a constant production rate ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The bottomhole flowing pressure profile for both the 200 B0PD and the 500 B0PD flow rates is shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

In the case of a closed, no-flow-boundary reservoir under pseudosteady state conditions, the average reservoir pressure, R, normally decreases with time as the reservoir is depleted of its fluids. Where the pressure drops below the bubble point of the oil, gas begins to form. From our earlier discussion of effective and relative permeability, we realize that the presence of gas inhibits the flow of oil. Soon after flow has begun the bottomhole flowing pressure approaches a stable value and, when we use this stable value in our calculations, we can use as an approximation the equations of steady-state flow in our performance analysis. The difference between the average reservoir pressure and the stable bottomhole flowing pressure at the wellbore, is called the pressure drawdown ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

Drawdown =

R - pwf . (1.4)

The drawdown causes a flow rate, q, and defines the productivity index, J, for the well.

Productivity Index = J =


J is in stock tank barrels per day per psi of drawdown. The productivity index represents the dynamic response of the reservoir and its fluid properties within the drainage area of a specific well. It defines the relationship that exists between flow rate, q, and bottomhole flowing pressure, pwf, for a given average reservoir pressure, R. The productivity index is constant when flow parameters like permeability are constant. When bottomhole flowing pressure is above the bubble point the productivity index will be constant. As the pressure drops below the bubble point, however, the productivity index will decrease as gas comes out of solution, changes permeability values, and inhibits flow.


Gilbert (1954), the father of modern production engineering, who worked for many years at Shell Oil, was the first to realize the full significance of this decreasing productivity index. He plotted the bottomhole flowing pressure, pwf, versus the flow rate, q, and referred to this curve as the inflow performance relationship or IPR ( Figure 1 ).An individual curve is drawn for a given average reservoir pressure.

Figure 1

Because reservoir pressure will generally be depleted by production, the IPR, over the life of a well, may be shown by a family of curves shrinking toward the origin. Each curve represents the pressure-rate relationship at a given average reservoir pressure ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

The endpoints of the IPR curve are the average reservoir pressure, R at a flow rate of zero and the maximum potential flow rate, q, at a bottomhole flowing pressure of zero ( Figure 1 ). q called the "pumped-off potential" or "open-flow potential" of the well represents the "ideal" maximum flow rate that would occur if we could reduce the bottomhole flowing pressure to zero. In practice, it is not possible to achieve this rate because the bottomhole flowing pressure must always have some finite value. Above the bubble point the IPR curve is a straight line because only one phase is flowing, and permeability is a constant equal to the absolute permeability. The productivity index is equal to the inverse slope of the IPR curve. It, too, must be a constant above the bubble point. Below the bubble point, as gas comes out of solution and begins to interfere with flow, the IPR curve trends downward and the productivity index continues to decrease ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

This particular shape of the IPR curve is characteristic of reservoirs with a solution gas drive. Reservoirs with other drive mechanisms such as water drive, gas cap expansion, gravity segregation, or a combination of mechanisms will have IPR curves of a different shape or perhaps a straight line ( Figure 3 ). To be accurate about the specific pressure being discussed, you will note that the vertical axis label pwf changes to p when pressure-rate curves other than IPRs are presented. Formation stratification has a marked influence on the shape of the IPR curve, particularly if multiple zones, each with different permeabilities, produce into the same wellbore. Horizontal wells can also have a significant effect on the IPR curve. Under certain conditions (e.g., thin formations where the permeability anisotropy favors vertical flow), horizontal wells show a much higher productivity index than vertical wells. Thus, they can produce at higher rates for a given pressure drawdown (i.e., for a given pwf), or they can produce at a constant rate with a much lower drawdown.


Flow Regimes
A number of different flow regimes may occur during natural flow in vertical tubing. In order to describe each, let us assume that the pressure at the base of the tubing is above the bubble point. In such a case the flow regime at that point will consist of liquid flow ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Upward movement of the liquid is accompanied by reduced pressures and, as the pressure drops below the bubble point, gas bubbles begin to form. These bubbles slip upward through the rising column of liquid, with the larger ones rising more rapidly than the smaller. This is referred to as bubble flow. Further up the tubing, as pressure continues to drop, more gas is released from solution and the larger bubbles grow steadily by overtaking and coalescing with the smaller ones. Eventually a stage may be reached at which the larger gas bubbles fill almost the entire cross section of the tubing and, as they move upward, carry between them slugs of oil containing small gas bubbles. This is referred to as plug or slug flow. It is the most efficient natural lift regime because it uses the gas to full effect rather than losing its potential lifting power to the slippage that occurs during bubble flow. Higher in the tubing, at even lower pressures, the gas may break through and form a continuous channel in the center of the string, with oil moving slowly upward in an annular ring on the inside wall of the tubing. Such annular flow is clearly inefficient. Finally, if the tubing is of considerable length so that a large pressure drop exists from the bottom to top, the annulus of liquid may almost disappear, leaving only the flow of gas carrying a mist of liquid droplets. Now we have what is called mist flow and it is characteristic of many wet gas wells or condensate producers. The description of tubing flow regimes and pressure losses that occur is an extremely complex subject. In practice not all of these flow regimes are present simultaneously in a single tubing string. On the other hand, two, three or even more may occur at the same time. In any case, identifying the flow regime is the first step in determining the tubing pressure drop.


In order to analyze and design our production system it is necessary to be able to calculate the pressure drop which exists between the bottomhole and the surface during natural flow. The calculation of this pressure drop for all possible conditions is so complex that we are forced to rely on empirical or semi-empirical correlations. These correlations take into account the seven important variables that affect the pressure losses of a flowing well. These variables are tubing size, flow rate, fluid viscosity, fluid density, gas-liquid ratio (GLR), water-oil ratio (WOR), and, finally, the effect of slippage. Another variable, vertical well deviation, is receiving more attention because of the many directional wells being drilled offshore. Since the first published work of practical significance by Poettmann and Carpenter (1952), numerous additional studies have been undertaken. Investigators have analyzed the effect of each of the above variables on the vertical pressure profile of a well. From their work a number of correlations have been developed, many of which have been incorporated into computer programs, which may be used with specific well data in order to calculate the pressure losses during flow. In addition, a number of pressure gradient or pressure traverse curves, such as the one shown in Figure 1 , have been published for use in the field.

Figure 1

These curves show depth on the vertical axis and pressure along the horizontal axis. Since a separate curve is needed for each set or well and flowing conditions, there are a large number of published curves. Nowadays, most engineers have access to computer programs which use the most appropriate correlation for the specific problem that is to be solved.

Our objective in calculating pressure losses during natural flow through tubing is to predict the performance of our production system under various equipment and operating conditions and thereby develop an optimal design. One convenient way of presenting the results of vertical pressure loss is to incorporate it into our IPR diagram. We start with the IPR curve ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

Using the value of the bottomhole flowing pressure at a specific production rate, we subtract the vertical pressure loss obtained from vertical profile curves or computer programs for that production rate ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

Subtracting the vertical pressure loss from the bottomhole flowing pressure at that flow rate gives the value for the tubing head pressure at that rate. The appropriate value of tubing head pressure, referred to as ptf, is now plotted on the graph as shown in Figure 4 .

Figure 4

Another flow rate is then assumed, the calculation repeated, and a second tubing head pressure is determined. As we continue in this way, a tubing head pressure curve is built ( Figure 4 ). The difference vertically between the IPR and the tubing head pressure curve is the pressure loss in the tubing at each production rate. We shall refer to this as the THP curve. The procedure is quite straightforward and, for given flow conditions, may be repeated for larger or smaller tubing size until an optimum design is found.


Surface Control
Now that the topics of reservoir performance, IPR curves, vertical flow in the tubing, and various pressure loss correlations have been introduced, we should turn to the third element of our flowing well system - the wellhead choke which provides control at the surface ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The choke or bean is used to ensure that the flow from the well is reasonably steady. The size of the orifice is usually chosen so that variations in wellhead pressure do not affect the pressure of separators, lines and other surface equipment. Also, we want to ensure that fluctuations of pressure in the gathering system (caused, for example, by the action of a dump separator) do not affect well performance. To ensure that downstream pressure variations are not transmitted to the upstream side of the choke the flow through the orifice must attain critical flow velocity. In practice we have found that this critical flow velocity is achieved under most circumstances when the upstream or the tubing head pressure is at least double the downstream or flowline pressure. This condition is one that the petroleum engineer must design into his flowing well system. During the critical flow of fluids through an orifice, the tubing head pressure is a linear or almost linear function of the liquid-flow rate. This means that if we plot the tubing head pressure (Ptf) on the vertical axis and the flow rate (q) corresponding to critical flow on the horizontal axis, the choke performance plots as a straight line through the origin ( Figure 2 ). This is limited by the fact that as the tubing head pressure approaches the downstream line pressure the flow rate goes to zero.

Figure 2

The larger the orifice size, the larger the flow rate for a given tubing head pressure.

EXCERCISE: 1: (a) The results or a bottomhole pressure survey on a well are as follows:
Rate BOPD 250 510 800 1100 1200 1245 Recorded Pressure (psi) 1770 1625 1480 1300 1215 1192

Extrapolated average reservoir pressure = 1900 psi. The water cut throughout the test was zero, and PVT analysis shows that the bubble-point pressure at reservoir conditions is 1550 psi. (b) Determine the productivity index (PI), J, at each of the measured rates and use these results as best as you can to extrapolate the curve on the p-q plot and obtain the IPR curve. What potential rate, q, is indicated by your IPR curve? (i) Repeat the above but use a pressure of 1175 psi instead of 1192 psi at the rate of 1245 B0PD.

(ii) Now let us suppose that the water cut is rate dependent instead of being zero throughout. The static pressure and the bubble-point pressure will be taken as above, but the survey results will be assumed to be as follows:

Gross Rate (BOPD) 250 510 800 1100 1200 1245

Water Cut (%) 0 10 32.5 47.5 5.1 52

Recorded Pressure (psi) 1770 1625 1480 1300 1215 1192

Use these results to determine the average reservoir pressure, and the PI, of the water zone. Discuss some of the difficulties that arise in attempts to extrapolate the data.

ANS: (a)
Plot p-q points from survey ( Figure 1 ). Indicate bubble-point pressure, and remember that IPR is straight line between pR and pb

Figure 1

Calculate J values at the survey points (Table 1). Table 1 q 250 510 800 1100 1200 1245 P 1770 1625 1480 1300 1215 1192 pR-p 130 275 420 600 685 708 J 1.923 1.855 1.905 1.833 1.752 1.758

Plot J versus q ( Figure 1 ). Assume values for J and compute the corresponding q, p values. See Table 2. Plot on Figure 1 (circles) to obtain IPR and calculate the potential q' = 2280 BOPD. Table 2 q 1.7 1.6 -1.5 1.4 1.3 P 1320 1520 1720 1920 2120 pR-p 776 950 1147 1371 1630 J 1124 950 753 529 270

(b) (i) Repeat the above but use a pressure of 1175 psi instead of 1192 psi at the rate of 1245 BOPD. Calculate J value as shown in Table 3. Table 3 q 250 510 800 1100 1200 1245 P 1770 1625 1480 1300 1215 1175 pR-p 130 275 420 600 685 725 J 1.923 1.855 1.905 1.833 1.752 1.717

Plot J versus q as shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

Assume values for J and compute the corresponding q, p values (Table 4). Table 4 q 1.7 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1 P 1270 1390 1520 1640 1760 1890 2010 pR-p 747 869 1013 1171 1354 1575 1827 J 1153 1031 887 729 546 325 73

Plot on Figure 3 (circles) to obtain IPR and calculate the potential rate q' = 2030 BOPD.

Figure 3

Note the sensivitity of the extrapolation. A change of only 17 psi (1.4%) in the last measured value of p results in a change of 250 BOPD (11.0%) in the value assigned to q. Plot water cut against gross rate ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

Extrapolation of the results to a gross potential rate q' of 2280 BOPD indicates a water cut of 68% at this final rate.

Water production is apparently zero at rates less than 450 BOPD. Reference to Figure 1 would suggest then, that the static pressure in the water zone is 1660 psi. (iii) Applying the value of 1660 psi for pi to the measured data gives the results shown in Table 5. Table 5 q 510 800 1100 1200 1245 Cut 10 32.5 47.5 51 52 qw 51 260 523 612 647 p 1625 1480 1300 1215 1195 1660-p 35 180 360 445 465 Jw 1.46 1.44 1.45 1.38 1.39

Table 6 summarizes the values for pressure rate at each of the recorded pressures. Table 6 q 250 510 800 1100 1200 1245 P 1770 1625 1480 1300 1215 1195 qw 0 51 260 523 612 647 qo 250 459 540 577 588 598

The oil production potential may be calculated from the gross potential rate of 2280 BOPD and the final cut of 68%: qO = 2280 (1 - 0.68) = 730 BOPD. This rate is not consistent with the trend in Table 6. Furthermore, if Jw remains constant at 1.42, then the potential water rate q'w = 1.42 (1660-0) = 2357 BOPD, which is itself greater than the gross potential q'. Unfortunately, the situation hinted at in this exercise is by no means unusual. It stems from the fact that flowing well pressure data do not, in most case, extend to rates sufficiently high, compared to potential rates, that extrapolations can be made with any degree of certainty.

2: A flowing well test is carried out with the following results:

3/8-in choke, stabilized flow rate 675 B0PD 680 psi THP 1/2-in choke 865 BOPD 500 psi THP 5/8-in choke 980 BOPD 375 psi THP 7/8-in choke 1100 BOPD 220 psi THP The producing GLR held constant at or near 500 scf/bbl throughout the test, while the water cut was zero. Additional well parameters:

Tubing: 2 7/8 inches, set at 5500 ft WOR=0 GLR=300 SCF/STB THP = 200 psi Assuming that the tubing head pressure is a linear function of the liquid rate, use the data to determine the relationship between THP and choke diameter for this well.

ANS: Ptf = Aq
where Ptf = tubing head pressure, psi q = liquid production rate, BOPD A = constant, function of S S = choke size, in eighths of an inch The simplest way of determining whether A is directly dependent on some power of S is to plot A against S on loglog paper; or, alternatively, to plot in A against line S on regular graph paper. If a straight line of slope n results, then: A = BSn. Table 1 shows the computed values of A knowing Ptf and q. Table 1

S (in eighths of an inch) 3 4 5 7

q 675 865 980 1100

Ptf 680 500 375 220

A 1.01 0.58 0.38 0.20

Table 2 depicts the values of S and the corresponding values of A. Table 2

S 3 4 5 7

ln S 1.10 1.39 1.61 1.95

A 1.01 0.58 0.38 0.20

ln A 0.01 -0.54 -0.97 -1.61

Plotting line A versus line S shows a straight line with a negative slope. This equals = -1.91 ( Figure 1 ). Thus:

The values of B may be calculated at each of the measurement points (Table 3).

Figure 1

Table 3

S 3 4 5 7

Sl.9l 8.15 14.12 21.63 41.13

Ptf 680 500 375 220

q 675 865 980 1100

B(=ptfSl9l/q) 8.21 8.16 8.28 8.23

Average 8.22

Hence, from the data given, the choke performance equation for the well in question is:

Note that this is probably not a complete equation because no allowance has been made for the effects of changing gas/liquid ratio (GLR). That ratio has been assumed to be constant (at 500 scf/bbl) throughout the calculation.

3: (a) Given the following well parameters, what size choke (to the nearest 64th of an inch) would result in a THP
of 300 psi, (assume a production rate of 1035 BOPD): Tubing: 2 7/8 inches, set at 5500 ft WOR=0 GLR=300 SCF/STB THP = 200 psi Results of Flowing Well Test: Choke size, in. 3/8 1/2 5/8 7/8 Flow Rate, BOPD 675 865 980 1100 THP, psi 680 500 375 220

Producing GLR = 500 SCF/STB, constant throughout test; WOR = 0 Assume that the THP is a linear function of the flow rate. (b) What would be the production rate and THP if a 3/16-inch choke were used at the wellhead? (c) Describe how the results of a production test of the type summarized above may be used to determine the IPR of a flowing well.

ANS: (a)The choke performance equation for the well under study is:

(b) If a 3/16-inch choke were used, the value of S would be 1.5 (in eighths of an inch), so that the equation would give: Ptf = 3.78q. This is the equation of a straight line through the origin. To draw in the line, determine one other point, for example when q = 600, Ptf = 2268. Plot this point on Figure 1 , and draw in the straight line.

Figure 1

This intersects the THP curve at a rate of approximately 250 BOPD and a THP of 950 psi. (c) From a flowing well production test of the kind outlined in the previous exercise, it is possible to draw in a THP curve. [Note: This is best done if the liquid rate and the THP are measured at each point of the test. If it is not possible to record one of these two, then its value may be determined from the other provided that the choke size and the choke performance equation are both known. Use of the equation normally requires a knowledge of the producing gas/liquid ratio (GLR).]

4: The components of a flowing well system are the formation, tubing, choke, gathering system, and separator.
Draw a series of pressure-rate diagrams showing how, under various circumstances, each of these components control the flow rate. Explain, in each case why the control is caused by that component.

ANS: (a) Formation control: Inflow performance too low to lift the fluids.
(b) Tubing control: Pressure losses in tubing so large that no substantial flow to surface occurs. (c) Choke control: Flow rate controlled by the choke. Figure 1

(d) Gathering line: Control of flow is found in the gathering lines where high pressure losses occur. (e) Separator control: Flow rate control by separator performance curve.

Figure 2


Figure 1

IPR curves have different shapes for different reservoirs, depending primarily on the drive mechanism of the reservoir ( Figure 1 ). A reservoir with a strong water drive, or a solution gas drive above the bubble point will have a straight line IPR. In the special case where the IPR is a straight line, J equals the reciprocal of the slope of the IPR and is constant. For a solution-gas-drive reservoir, the straight-line portion above the bubble point reflects the dynamic flow characteristics of single-phase liquid flow through the formation ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

However, when the flowing pressure in the formation falls below the bubble point, Pb, gas comes out of solution, reduces the permeability to the oil phase, decreases the productivity index, and reduces the oil flow rate within the formation. Remember, the relative permeability to the oil phase is dependent on the oil-phase saturation. At increased production rates, pwf decreases and more gas comes out of solution within the formation. At higher gas saturations, the relative permeability to oil drops further. This results in a downward curving IPR and a steadily decreasing productivity index at decreasing flowing bottomhole pressure, with its antecedent phase-behavior dependence on relative permeabilities. Other factors such as increased oil viscosity, rock compressibility, and turbulence can add to these effects as wellbore pressures fall and rates increase. We conclude, then, that a solution-gas-drive reservoir below the bubble point has a downward curving IPR. Often a wells IPR curvature is intermediate between a straight line and this classic solution-gas drive curve. In such cases the average reservoir pressure is receiving support from gas cap expansion or a water drive.


Vogels Method
Vogels main objective was to simulate two-phase flow through a reservoir into a wellbore. By analyzing a number of different solution-gas-drive reservoirs, he established an empirical relationship which could apply to all such reservoirs. The computer program that he prepared solved the equations of flow for somewhat idealized reservoirs. For example, he assumed that the reservoir was circular, completely bounded, and with a fully penetrating well at its center; that the formation was uniform, isotropic, and had a constant water saturation; that gravity and compressibility could be neglected and that semi-steady-state flow occurred.

Vogel simulated reservoirs covering a wide range of conditions. These conditions included differing reservoir relative permeability characteristics as well as the various effects of well spacings, fracturing geometry, and skin restrictions. Analysis was limited to flow conditions below the bubble point. Vogel found that as depletion occurs in a solution-gas-drive reservoir, the productivity of a typical well decreases. This occurs primarily because (1.) the reservoir pressure is reduced, and (2.) because increasing gas saturation causes greater resistance to oil flow. The result is a progressive downward shift of the IPR ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The values on the lines reflect the percentage of reserves produced. Vogel, then, took the important step of plotting each curve as "dimensionless" IPRs or "type curves." He obtained these curves by plotting the bottomhole flowing pressures divided by the average reservoir pressure on the vertical axis and the production rate divided by the maximum flow rate, C, on the horizontal axis. When this was done for each curve, they were replotted as shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

It is immediately apparent with this transformation that the curves now are remarkably similar throughout most of the producing life of the reservoir. After analyzing twenty-one different reservoirs with various crude oil properties, relative permeabilities, and wellbore characteristics, Vogel found that IPRs generally exhibited a similar shape, as long as the bottomhole flowing pressure was below the bubble point. Extending this observation one step further, he developed a standard reference curve which can be used for all solution-gas-drive reservoirs. This standard curve is shown in Figure 3 .

Figure 3

Specific plot points for this curve are given in the table below. The use of this curve does not imply that all reservoirs are identical, but that it may be used as a reference standard for all reservoirs within a tolerable error. This reference curve is described exactly by the following equation:

Note that q is the producing rate corresponding to a given bottomhole flowing pressure, pwf; q is the wells potential at 100 percent drawdown, and whichever is lower. X-q/q

R is the average reservoir pressure or the bubble-point pressure,

1.00 0.95 0.90 0.85 0.80 0.75

0.000 0.088 0.172 0.252 0.328 0.400

0.70 0.65 0.60 0.55 0.50 0.45 0.40 0.35 0.30 0.25 0.20 0.15 0.10 0.05 0.00 Example: Assume: q = 1172 BOPD pwf = 716 psi

0.468 0.532 0.592 0.648 0.700 0.748 0.792 0.832 0.868 0.900 0.928 0.958 0.972 0.988 1.000

R = 1420 psi R = pb
Construct the IPR curve for this well at the average reservoir pressure. Assume that Vogels dimensionless standard curve describes this wells behavior. First, we calculate the dimensionless pressure.

With this value and Vogels dimensionless standard curve (or Equation 1.2), we find the dimensionless rate (see Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

= 0.696. This gives a value of:


= 1684 BOPD.

The type curve can now be made into this wells IPR curve simply by adding the values for average reservoir pressure and C; at the appropriate end points. The scale of the graph is now established and any desired point can now be read ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

Remember that Vogels results are only for the curved portion of the IPR curve which exists below the bubble point. Above the bubble point the IPR curve is a straight line. We can obtain its shape by drawing the tangent to the curve at the bubble-point pressure and extending it to the original average reservoir pressure, pi. Such as extrapolation is shown in Figure 6 .

Figure 6

In order to determine the shape of the IPR curve at a future average reservoir pressure, we need to know a single bottomhole flowing pressure and its corresponding flow rate at that average reservoir pressure. Using our dimensionless curve and a known data point we would repeat what we have just done. This would yield a second curve. The difficulty is that we do not have well test data at some future, unknown average reservoir pressure.

Standings Extension of Vogels Methods

With Vogels type curve, one flowing well test, and a value for the average reservoir pressure, we can obtain a single IPR curve for our well. But how do we calculate the IPR curve at a future average reservoir pressure? That is the same question that Marshall B. Standing (1970) asked when he published the results of his work. His approach was as follows. We remember that the productivity index, J, is defined as:

(1.3) If we substitute J into Vogels equation with the average reservoir pressure below the bubble point, we obtain this relationship:

(1.4) J is given in terms of flow rates and pressures. If J could be calculated for some future average reservoir pressure, then with this value of J and the above equation, the pressure and flow rate values needed to find the future IPR

curve could be determined. Standing suggested that, in the limiting case, that is, where there is very small drawdown, the bottomhole flowing pressure would tend to be equal to average reservoir pressure, that is:

The value of J, under these conditions, is referred to as J* and, by substituting this ratio into Eq. 1.4, we obtain:

(1.5) The next step is to calculate how J*, changes with average reservoir pressure. Standing suggested that J*, at different average reservoir pressures, is proportional to relative permeability and inversely proportional to the formation volume factor and the viscosity. This is referred to as the relative mobility and is written:

J* =


With this relationship, a future value of J* referred to as, Jf*, is equal to the present value of J*, Jp* multiplied by the inverse ratio of the respective mobilities, that is:

(1.7) Combining these relationships into the Vogel equation, (Eq. 1.2), Standing found that future IPR curves could be plotted from the following equation:

(1.8) Finding the IPR curve is rather direct. First, we assume a value for the future average reservoir pressure at which we would like to know an IPR curve. Then we calculate a value for Jf*. Substituting these two values into Eq. 1.8 yields an equation in q and pwf This equation give us the future IPR curve. In substance, Vogels type curve is used for the wells IPR curve at the original reservoir pressure. This gives us q and Jp* which we need for Standings method. We then use Standings technique to obtain IPR curves at lower pressures. There is a good example as to how this calculation proceeds on page 56 of Ninds text (1981).

Fetkovich's Method
Fetkovich (1973) proposed an alternative method for calculating IPR curves for solution-gas-drive reservoirs.

He made a number of assumptions including the idea that two-phase flow occurred through a uniform, circular, horizontal reservoir with a constant outer boundary pressure below the bubble point. One of Fetkovich's key assumptions was that the relative permeability to oil divided by the oil viscosity and formation volume factor varied linearly with pressure as shown in the following equation:

(1.9) The straight line passes through the origin. With this basic relationship assumed, Fetkovich was able to show:

(1.10) We may calculate Jo' at the original reservoir pressure pi using Eq. 1.11. This value of Jo' is referred to as Joi' and is a function of effective permeability to oil at the original reservoir boundary pressure, pi. Saturation is assumed to be constant for the well being analyzed. (1.11) Joi may be thought of as a replacement for @, the productivity index. With these equations, it is not difficult to plot the IPR curve at a given reservoir or boundary pressure pR Let's now solve the same problem that we did earlier using Vogel's method. Example: Assume: q = 1172 BOPD pwf = 716 psi pi = 1420 psi We insert these values into Eq. 1.10 to obtain:

Substituting this constant into Eq. 1.10 gives: q = 7.793 10-4 (pi2 - pwf2)

This equation gives us the inflow rate as a function of bottomhole pressure with it we can generate the IPR curve. For the original reservoir pressure, pi, we may now calculate the potential, q', of the well under these conditions, that is where pwf = 0. q' = 7.793 l0-4 (14202 - 0) = 1,572 BOPD

For comparison purposes, you will remember that we calculated a value of 1684 B0PD using the Vogel technique. The agreement between these two methods of calculation is generally good in the intermediate pressure ranges, but there is often deviation at the outer ranges of pressure-rate axes. Major differences between these exist; however, either method may be used with the assurance that the results from the other will not differ dramatically. To learn how Fetkovich's method is used for calculating future IPR curves, we must assume that Joi' will decrease in proportion to the average reservoir pressure.

When the average reservoir pressure drops below pi a new value of Joi', referred to as Jo , can be calculated using Eq. 2.11. So in our example, if pR drops to 1000 psi, we would calculate:

Jo = 7.73



10-4 * 10-4 and 5.488 10-4

* After this program was completed it was realized that these constant should be 7.793 respectively. The small error does not change the underlying procedure.

Knowing this value of Jo' for an assumed future value of pR, we have a new IPR equation: q = 5.44 10-4 (10002 - pwf2)

Fetkovich's method, then, yields two equations--one describing the initial reservoir performance and another describing performance, at an assumed future average reservoir pressure. From these two equations, we can calculate values for Jo' and plot IPR curves for any future average reservoir pressure. In Figure 1 we see the two curves from the example we just solved.

Figure 1

We would proceed in the same manner if we wanted to find another IPR curve at a lower value.


Skin Effect
The skin effect is a near wellbore, phenomenon. In the ideal flowing well, that is one that fully penetrates the formation, where the full formation is open to flow and where no formation damage or stimulation exists, the pressure profile during flow looks like the one shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

The drawdown is equal to:

R - pwf.
However, if the formation near the wellbore has been damaged, for example, by drilling fluid invasion, there will be an additional pressure drop at and near the wellbore because of this damage ( Figure 2 ). This same additional pressure drop exists if the well only partially penetrates the formation, has limited perforations, or if turbulence exists in the formation near the wellbore.

Figure 2

Because this additional pressure drop occurs near the wellbore it is referred to as _pskin. The total pressure drop in a damaged well is equal to: (

R - pwf) + _pskin Bpskin)

The skin effect (s) is defined as s=(kh)/(constant

Because a damaged well causes an additional pressure drop, the skin effect is said to be positive. If the formation near the wellbore has been enhanced, say by fracturing or acidizing, rather than by damage, then the drawdown will be reduced ( Figure 3 ). The reduced pressure drop is again referred to as _pskin skin but this time it is negative and the skin effect is negative. The total pressure drop in an enhanced well is:

Figure 3

R - pwf) - _pskin (1.12)

The magnitude of the skin effect and whether it is positive or negative is obtained by conducting special well tests. These tests give us a value for _pskin and, knowing its value, we can calculate the flow efficiency of the well. The flow efficiency, FE, is defined as the drawdown of an ideal well divided by the drawdown of the well with skin effects. Flow efficiency for a damaged well will be equal to:



FE will be less than 1.0. For an enhanced well, the skin relationship will be negative and the value of the flow efficiency will be greater than 1.0:




Standing prepared a series of curves which may be used by us to calculate the IPR for wells that have flow efficiencies different than 1.0. Using these curves we can calculate the IPR of a well if the damage were removed or the well stimulated. His curves are shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

The vertical axis is the dimensionless pressure of the flowing well and the horizontal axis is a dimensionless flow rate, specifically the flow rate of the well divided by its maximum flow rate with damage or fracturing. The curves are drawn for flow efficiencies from 0.5 to 1.5. The curves have the following relationship:

(1.14) Where F is the flow efficiency. Neither this equation nor the curves should be extrapolated effectively to q/q values greater than unity.


Stratified Formations
Many horizons are separated by relatively thin but highly impermeable horizontal shale breaks between the productive intervals. Production from and fluid data of any one layer may not be the same as those from other layers contributing to the production from the well. Consider an example in which a well is completed in a horizon having three zones, one with a permeability of 1 millidarcy, the second of 10 millidarcies, and the third of 100 millidarcies. It will be assumed that there is no vertical communication between these zones in the reservoir. Initially, production will come principally from the 100 millidarcy zone, with the smallest contribution being from the 1 millidarcy layer. Thus, after the well has been producing for several months, the most permeable zone will be the most depleted and at the lowest average reservoir pressure, while the least permeable zone will be the least depleted and at the highest average reservoir pressure. Consider the case where the average reservoir pressure in the 100 millidarcy zone is 1000 psi; that in the 10 millidarcy zone is 1200 psi; and that in the 1 millidarcy zone is 1500 psi, the well is now tested at various production

rates to establish the IPR. If the IPR of the 1, 10, and 100 millidarcies are as shown in Figure 1 , then the gross IPR curve is the sum of all three.

Figure 1

A point on the gross IPR curve has a flow rate which is equal to the sum of the flow rates of the three individual curves. In general, a well producing from a stratified formation, because of differential depletion, will exhibit a gross IPR as shown in Figure 2 , that is to say, an improving productivity index with increasing production at lower rates but a deteriorating productivity index at the higher rates.

Figure 2

Consider a well completed in a two-layered horizon where water breakthrough has occurred in the more permeable, more depleted layer. In such a circumstance the watered-out zone has the higher permeability but the lower pressure of the two zones. Let us assume further that the watered-out layer produces 100 percent water, while the other layer produces waterfree oil. Beginning with the oil zones IPR and adding the water zones IPR, we obtain the gross IPR ( Figure 3 ). At any given bottomhole flowing pressure we can read off the oil rate, the water rate, and the gross production rate. This allows us to calculate and plot the water cut as a function of the gross production rate.

Figure 3

The water cut is zero until we reach a bottomhole flowing pressure low enough for water to flow. Thereafter the water cut at any pressure and flow rate is equal to the ratio of the water production rate divided by the gross production rate. When the bottomhole flowing pressure is. greater than the average reservoir pressure in the water zone, oil will enter into the water zone by inter flow taking place through the wellbore.


Conducting an Inflow Performance Test
Below is a practical procedure for conducting an inflow performance test. First: Shut the well in and conduct a pressure buildup test. This will give you the average reservoir pressure. Second: With a recording pressure gauge on the bottom, place the well on production at a low rate and, after ample time is allowed for the rate to stabilize, record the bottomhole flowing pressure. Third: Flow the well at two successively higher flow rates. Let each rate stabilize and note the bottomhole flowing pressure. Fourth: After the last test is run, shut the well in and conduct another buildup test. This test will give four points on the IPR curve. Unfortunately this test requires a great deal of time and so, for economic reasons, we often have only sufficient time to conduct a single flow test. A single-flow test and a value for the average reservoir pressure is sufficient for flowing and artificial lift well predictions, however, the complete multiple flow test provides more accuracy.

It should be remembered that with a knowledge of the basic reservoir and fluid properties, pressures, downhole hardware, and completion data, computer models can be used to generate the appropriate family of IPR curves for a given well. In such calculations, no limiting assumptions about flow equations, reservoir descriptions, or fluid properties need be made. You should review your companys capabilities in this area.

EXCERCISE: 1: Use Vogel's Method to solve the following exercises.

(i) Given that q = 100, BOPD at pwf = 500 psi, and 80 percent drawdown. = 1000 psi, calculate q' and the production rate at

(ii) A well producing under solution-gas-drive conditions is tested at two different flow rates as follows: Test 1: q = 150 B0PD, pwf = 1500 psi Test 2: q = 250 BOPD, pwf = 1000 psi Using Vogel's equation find and q'.

(iii) Construct the IPR curve given that = 4000 psi, pb = 2000 psi, and pwf = 3000 psi when q = 200 BOPD. How would the curve change if the flow rate of 200 BOPD had occurred at pwf - 1000 psi?

ANS: (i)


Figure 1

Figure 1


From Figure 2

Figure 2



Figure 3 represents the IPR curve.

Figure 3

2: A well is flowing at the rate of 1120 BOPD through 2 7/8-inch tubing. Water cut is zero and the GLR is 820
scf/bbl. The bottomhole flowing pressure measured at 6470 ft (the foot of the tubing) is 675 psi while the pressure buildup survey gives an average reservoir pressure of 2080 psi at a datum level of 6500 ft. (a) Using Vogel's method draw the IPR curve and estimate the well's potential. (b) Reservoir analysis indicates the ratio of the value of kro/Boo now to its value at an average reservoir pressure of 1,500 psi is 1.57. Using Standing's method estimate its potential when the average reservoir pressure has dropped to 1,500 psi.

This gives the following results: Pwf 2095 1800 1500 1200 900 690 300 0 Figure 1 q 0 315 591 824 1013 1120 1262 1322


3: Using Fetkovichs method, draw the following well's IPR at average reservoir pressures of 2,080 and 1,500 psi.
What is the well's potential at these pressures? Well parameters: q = 1120 STB/D WOR = 0 GLR = 820 SCF/STB Tubing: 2 7/8 in, bottom at 6470 ft THP at 6470 ft = 675 psi Average reservoir pressure = 2080 psi at 6500 ft Reservoir analysis indicates that the ratio of kro/Boo at current reservoir pressure to its value at an average reservoir pressure of 1500 psi is 1.57.

This gives the following results: Pwf 2095 1800 1500 1200 900 690 300 0 Figure 1 q 0 329 612 843 1024 1119 1230 1255

4: Using Standing's flow efficiency curves solve the following exercises.

(a) Given that q = 150 BOPD, pR = 2,400 psi, pwf = 2,000 psi, and FE = 1.0, find the maximum possible flow rate when FE = 0.7. What is the flow rate when pwf = 1,200 psi? (b) A damaged well is stimulated and shows substantial improvement. Data from the well prior to stimulation is as follows:

q = 100 BOPD pR = 2,400 psi pwf = 1,800 psi FE = 0.7

After stimulation FE is estimated to be 1.3. Find q' for FE = 1.3 and the flow rate when

pwf = 1,800 psi. How much benefit has been realized? (c) For the well in part (b), how would you calculate FE before and after stimulation?

ANS: (a)
From Figure 1


Figure 1

5: A well produces from two zones with the following data provided on each:
Zone 1: pR = 2,500 psi; q = 200 B0PD when pwf = 1,250 psi Zone 2: pR = 1,500 psi; q = 125 BOPD when pwf = 1,250 psi Construct the well's IPR's, determine the interflow pressure and rates, and state the expected producing rates for the well pwf = 1,600, 1,500, and 500 psi.

ANS: For the purpose of simplicity, linear IPR relationships have been used.
Figure 1

Pwf 1600 1500 500

Production Rate BOPD 230 260 520


The variables that affect vertical flow in tubing are tubing size, flow rate, density, and viscosity. Because there is probably more than one phase flowing, we must add two more variables - gas-liquid ratio and water-oil ratio. Finally we should add the effect of slippage.

If, for a specific flowing well, we change only the tubing size, for example, from

inches to 3 inches, then, as -inch

shown in Figure 1 , the total pressure loss that occurs between the formation and the surface for the tubing is 1900 psi whereas for the 3-inch tubing it is only 900 psi.

Figure 1

The magnitude of the differences is rather substantial; because of the reduction in friction pressure, the pressure loss is almost double for the smaller tubing size. We conclude, then, that under these conditions, as the tubing size increases, the pressure losses will decrease. The second variable to consider is oil API gravity. In Figure 2 we see that for this specific well, the pressure loss over the 8000 foot interval for brine is approximately 1700 psi, but as we increase the API to say a 50 API oil, the

pressure loss over the same depth is reduced to 1200 psi.

Figure 2

We conclude that for similar flowing conditions, pressure losses will be lower for the less dense crudes. For higher density fluids the hydrostatic pressure gradient dominates. In Figure 3 we see that higher viscosities give higher pressure losses, again due to an increase in friction pressure.

Figure 3

As viscosity decreases from 50 centipoise to 1 centipoise, the total pressure loss over the 8000 foot interval decreases from about 1900 psi to 1200 psi. We also note that the effect is much less pronounced when we decrease the viscosity from 10 centipoise to 1 centipoise. We conclude, then, that the viscosity of the flowing fluid is an important variable and that lower, less viscous oils under similar conditions, will have lower pressure losses due to friction. Now let us look at the effect of the presence of gas or water with oil in the producing fluids. In Figure 4 we see that at a GLR of 250 scf/STB, the pressure loss from the formation to the surface is about 1900 psi, whereas at a GLR of 5000, the pressure loss is about 700 psi.

Figure 4

We can state this in another way - for a GLR of 250 we must have a bottomhole pressure of 2000 psi in order to have flow to the surface, whereas for a GLR of 5000 we must have a bottomhole pressure of 800 psi in order to have the same flow rate to the surface. In both cases the surface pressure is assumed to be 100 psi. It is possible for this pressure effect to reverse itself at high GLRs, that is, for pressure losses to begin to increase again. This situation occurs when the excessive amount of gas present requires increased velocities to maintain the fixed liquid production rate. The higher velocities, in turn, increase frictional losses during flow to the surface. The decrease in the hydrostatic pressure is overcome by the increase in the friction losses. This happens at the limit GLR. We see in Figure 5 that as the water-oil ratio (WOR) increases from 0 to 1000, the pressure losses in the tubing also increase.

Figure 5

This means that it will require a higher bottomhole flowing pressure to lift produced liquids that have water in them. The greater the WOR, the greater the pressure needed because water is slightly denser than oil. The magnitude of the pressure increase is not as large as those noted with other variables. In order to illustrate the condition of holdup, which results from slippage, we plot the bottomhole flowing pressure at different flow rates for several GLRs. In Figure 6 we see that for a GLR of 800 the bottomhole flowing pressure required to maintain flow increases as the flow rate increases.

Figure 6

This is as we might expect. At the higher flow rates the frictional losses increase and so will the required bottomhole flowing pressure. At lower flow rates the frictional losses are smaller and so the bottomhole flowing pressure required to maintain flow is lower. At lower GLRs, however, we see that the curves have a point of reversal or minimum. For the 400 GLR curve we see that the required bottomhole pressure decreases as we reduce the rate until at about 150 BOPD it begins to increase again. This reversal, or holdup, is caused by slippage, a condition where liquid flow rate becomes so low that excessive fallback begins to occur. Liquid falls back around the rising gas bubble. A smaller diameter tubing, giving higher velocities, should be used in this situation.

Vertical Flow Correlations

Now that we have discussed the seven major variables which affect vertical flow in tubing, we should review the various methods that have been developed to calculate the pressure losses that occur in flowing wells. It is not surprising that our prediction methods are not based on the exact solution of mathematical equations but rather on empirical or semi-empirical relationships. These relationships were developed by making certain assumptions about the applicable flow equations and then collecting data from a number of flowing wells under controlled conditions. The result is the publication of one or more correlations based on mathematical foundations and supported by observed field data. Early theoretical work in vertical flow analysis was undertaken by Versluys (1930). This was followed by the first practical application proposed by Poettmann and Carpenter (1952). Other important contributions include the work of Gilbert (1954), Duns and Ros (1963), Hagedorn and Brown (1965), Orkiszewski (1967), Govier and Aziz (1972), and Beggs and Brill (1973). We refer you to volume 1 of Browns text (1977) to learn how each of the theoretical and practical developments of these individuals evolved. Let us here summarize the approach and the important contributions of each. In reviewing these contributions we find it instructive to indicate the foundation of the work done, the pipe sizes to which the work applied, the fluids considered and, finally, to comment on the work of each.

Versluys work was theoretically based and described vertical flow patterns. Poettmann and Carpenters work was semi-empirical and applied to 2-, 2 - and 3-inch tubing. The fluids studied were oil, gas, and water. They developed practical solutions for GLR less than 1500 scf/bbl and for flow rates greater than 420 BOPD. In 1954, Gilbert used field data to investigate flow in 2-, 2 - and 3-inch tubing. He investigated oil, gas, and water flowing wells and developed a practical set of pressure profile graphs that can easily be used in the field by the engineer. Duns and Ros combined experimental laboratory work with field studies for all pipe sizes and all fluids to develop one of the best correlations for all flow rates. Hagedorn and Brown undertook both field and experimental work. They considered each of the three phases of flowing fluids in 1- to 4-inch tubing and produced a very useful generalized correlation for all ranges of flow rate. Orkiszewski reviewed all of the methods that had been published to that date and then, from his observations, prepared a single composite correlation. This correlation applies to all pipe sizes and fluids, and it may be used to predict pressure losses for all ranges of flow. It is widely used as the basis for computer programs in industry today. In 1972, Govier and Aziz, in Canada, published their correlations which were based on laboratory and field data for all pipe sizes and all fluids. Their correlations were based on a mechanistic equation which had been tested against field data. In 1973, Beggs and Brill reported on the work being conducted at the University of Tulsa. They presented the results of laboratory studies on 1- and 1 -inch pipe for air and water. Their correlation handles all ranges of multiphase flow for any pipe angle. The practical application of this work is the prediction of pressure losses in inclined or directionally drilled wells. Many more correlations have been published and work continues today in this important research area. The above-mentioned theoretical and empirical studies have left us numerous vertical pressure loss prediction methods, presented originally as correlations or pressure traverse curves. Brown for example, in volume 2a of his text, presented a full set of pressure traverse curves. Many computer programs have been written using one or more of their correlations to predict pressure losses during flow. The question remains as to which of these methods is most accurate under a given set of conditions. Statistical comparisons (Lawson and Brill, 1974) of several of the most widely used methods have been undertaken in order to determine their relative accuracy over a broad range of variables and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each technique. No single pressure loss prediction method seems to be consistently superior under all ranges of production conditions. Comparisons of the methods of Poettmann and Carpenter, Duns and Ros, Hagedorn and Brown, Beggs and Brill, Govier and Aziz, and Orkiszewski show that the Hagedorn and Brown method has the best overall accuracy but that other methods perform better under different sets of variables and types of flow. Despite variations in accuracy among the methods tested, they are within the range of engineering accuracy for use in sizing well equipment and designing artificial lift installations. Estimates of flow rates and bottomhole flowing pressures may also be made with reasonable accuracy by using these pressure gradient curves. The ones published by Brown or Gilbert may certainly be used with confidence. Your company may have its own internally published set of curves which you may choose to use. Many companies have computer programs that calculate pressure losses in tubing using a combination of the various correlations. These are quite accurate because they are generally written so as to use each correlation over its range of greatest accuracy.

The Use of Pressure Traverse Curves

To better understand the basis for vertical flow calculations and because they are quite accurate, we should learn how pressure traverse or gradient curves are used. A typical set of pressure gradient or, as they are often called, pressure traverse curves, are shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Note that the vertical scale represents depth and runs downward from the surface to a depth of 10,000 ft. The horizontal scale is pressure and runs from 0 to about 2800 psi. You will also note in the legend that a number of variables have been fixed specifically the tubing size, the producing rate, the oil gravity, the gas gravity, and the flowing fluid temperature. Only oil is flowing. Looking at the curves you see that there is one for each of the several values of GLR. The use of the curve is rather straightforward. Assume that the GLR for a well with these characteristics is 200 scf/bbl. This specific curve is used in our calculations. If we are told that the length of the tubing string is 5000 ft and the bottomhole flowing pressure is 1600 psi, then we calculate the tubing head pressure as follows. First we move to the point on the curve that represents its intersection with 1600 psi. We note the tubing depth at this point and then move to the left and up the curve until we have moved vertically a total of 5000 ft. This gives us the tubing head pressure, in this case 230 psi. More commonly, we would be given a tubing head pressure and asked to calculate a bottomhole flowing pressure, in which case we would do the reverse. For example, if we were told that the tubing head pressure was 400 psi we would come down to the curve to the point where it intersects the 400 psi line and then move downward along the curve a distance of 5000 ft to find a bottomhole flowing pressure of 2020 psi. Note that, in the first case, if we had been given a bottomhole flowing pressure of 1600 psi and a well depth of 10,000 ft we would have found that the pressure would have gone to 0 along our curve before we had moved a total vertical distance of 10,000 ft. Under these circumstances we would be unable to calculate a positive tubing head pressure, meaning that the well would not flow to the surface. The fluid level would stop at a depth of 2400 ft.

Calculating the THP Curve

The shape of the THP for a given well can be varied by changing the magnitude of such variables as tubing size and sometimes gas-liquid ratios. From an engineering design point of view, we should change the variables over which we have control until we achieve optimum flow conditions. Example: A corroded tubing string is being removed from a well and is to be replaced. In addition to 2 -inch tubing, we also have 1.9-inch and 3 -inch

tubing in inventory. What size tubing should be used to cause the well to flow at the maximum rate, given the following well data: THP = 170 psi depth = 5200 ft

R = 1850 psi GLR = 400 scf/bbl

The present conditions with corroded tubing are: q = 250 BOPD Pwf = 1387 psi The reservoir pressure is above the bubble point. We begin by generating the IPR curve, in this case it is a straight line. Then, using pressure gradient curves, we calculate tubing head pressure curves for each size of tubing. The results are shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

At a tubing head pressure of 170 psi, the 3 -inch tubing will allow a flow rate of about 425 BOPD, the 2 inch tubing about 525 BOPD, and the 1.9-inch tubing about 535 BOPD. The highest flow rate is provided by the smallest tubing. In practice, the 2 -inch tubing would probably be chosen for its strength and convenience of running tools, since its performance curve is nearly as good as that of 1.9-inch tubing. The design, then, is complete.

One cause of wide variations in the tubing head pressure is called "Heading." Heading is the periodic or cyclical surges in pressure and flow rate of otherwise stable wells. Minor heading can occur at any time in the life of a well and under unpredictable conditions. Usually major events of heading occur late in the life of a well when there are high GLR's. Heading is characterized at the surface by the production of intermittent slugs of liquid and gas at highly variable rates over a period of minutes. It normally occurs in the absence of a tubing-casing packer and is the result of gas bubbles bypassing the tubing and rising up the casing/tubing annulus. Unless the casing head pressure, (CHP), is bled off or equalized with the tubing head pressure, thereby decreasing production efficiency, the buildup of gas eventually lowers the level of fluid in the annulus to a point below the tubing foot. Under these conditions, the gas blows around the tubing, and a slug of gas will push the oil up the tubing at a rate higher than the well can sustain. This temporary surge lowers the flowing bottomhole pressure, increases the volume of the oil flowing into the well, and the fluid level in the annulus rises again temporarily. The buildup of gas in the annulus starts the cycle over again. This is an inefficient use of the gas' lifting potential. Heading can often signal the end of a well's flowing life, because the higher density/lower GOR oil being produced at a lower flow rate into the well immediately after the rate surge can cause a high enough drawdown to stop flow completely. Severe heading may cause unusual wear and tear on the well equipment and can interrupt flow prematurely. A few suggestions may be made to control heading. The first, of course, is the use of a casing-tubing packer to close off the annulus. This will eliminate annulus heading. A second option may be to bean back the well, thereby increasing the bottomhole pressure and with it the tendency to retain gas bubbles within the oil. We must be sure not to bean back the well so far as to kill it. A third possibility is to run a larger size tubing string so as to give lower vertical pressure losses and higher bottom-hole pressures. As with beaning, this will give lower GLRs but may lead to the killing of the well. Though its occurrence cannot be predicted with great accuracy, Duns and Ros (1963) have studied pressure losses during heading type flow conditions and have developed correlations that should be used for wells that are subject to heading.

EXCERCISE: 1: List the variables that affect vertical flow of fluid in tubing and explain the mechanistic effect of each. ANS:
Inflow Performance

Vertical Lift Performance Choke Performance Inflow Performance (IPR)

In calculating oil well production, it has commonly been assumed that producing rates are proportional to drawdowns. Using this assumption, a well's behavior can be described by its productivity index (PI). This PI relationship was developed from Darcy's law for the steady-state radial flow of a single, incompressible fluid. Although Muskat pointed out that the relationship is not valid when both oil and gas flow in a reservoir, its use has continued for some time for lack of better approximations. Gilbert proposed methods of well analysis utilizing a curve of producing rates plotted against bottomhole flowing pressure (Pwf); he termed this complete graph the

inflow performance relationship (IPR). In the late 60's, Vogel calculated IPR curves using computer calculations for wells producing from solution-gas-drive reservoirs. From these curves, a reference IPR curve was developed that is simple to apply. This reference IPR curve is believed to be used for most solutiongas drive reservoirs to provide more accurate calculation for oil wells productivity than can be secured with PI methods.

Vertical Lift Performance

Vertical lift performance involves a study of the pressure losses in vertical pipes carrying two-phases of fluids (gas and liquid). Vertical multiphase flow is found in practically every tubing string used in the production of oil. It is necessary to be able to predict a vertical flow pressure traverse in order to correctly select completion strings, predict flow rates, and design artifical lift installations. Several methods of approach to this problem have been made by Poettmann and Carpenter, Baxendell and Thomas, Ros, Gilbert, and others. Most of the approaches use some form of the general energy equation where the pressure for vertical multiphase flow is the sum of: hydrostatic pressure gradient, friction pressure gradient, and acceleration pressure gradient.

Choke Performance
The pressure loss accompanying the of oil, water, and gas through a flow-line restriction (choke or bean) at the surface is known as the choke performance. The majority of all flowing wells utilize surface chokes for the following reasons: 1. Safety 2. Maintain an upper flow rate limit to prevent sand entry 3. Produce the reservoir at the most efficient rate 4. Prevent water or gas coning Flowing wells utilize a choke in their early stages of production. As 0 time progresses, the choke size may have to be increased and eventually removed completely in order to try to optimize production.

2: Use Gilbert's pressure gradient curves to estimate the value of pwf in each of the following flowing wells:
(a) 7000 ft, 3 1/2-in tubing, 600 BOPD, 0.5 Mcf/bbl, THP 650 psi. (b) 5500 ft, 2 3/8-in tubing, 520 BOPD, 1.2 Mcf/bbl, THP of 500 psi. (c) 2450 m, 5.1 cm tubing (2-in ID, 2 3/8-in OD), 47 m3/day, 107 vol/vol, THP of 2.0 MPa.

ANS: (a) From Figure 1 at 650 psi, drop vertically to the curve for 0.5 Mcf/bbl.

Figure 1

Read off equivalent depth of THP on the vertical scale: 5000 ft Equivalent depth of the tubing = 7000 + 5000= 12,000ft. From Figure 1 Pwf = 2400 psi. (b) From Figure 2:

Figure 2

Equivalent depth of THP = 5625 ft Equivalent depth of tubing = 5625 + 5500 = 11,125 ft Pwf at 400 BOPD = 1100 psi (c) From Figure 3

Figure 3

Equivalent depth of THP = 5500 ft Equivalent depth of tubing = 5500 + 5500 = 11,000 ft Pwf at 600 BOPD = 1150 psi Interpolating linearly Pwf at 520 BOPD =

Pwf at 520 BOPD = 1130 psi

From Figure 3 Pwf = 1250 psi [see parts (a), (b), and (c)]

3: Well 15-3 is flowing through 8720 ft (2660 m) of 2 3/8-inch (5.1 cm ID) tubing at 430 BOPD (68.3 m3/day),
GLR 350 scf/bbl (62.3 vol/vol). The THP is 270 psi (1.863 MPa). It is estimated that the average reservoir pressure is 2230 psi (15.39 MPa). Draw the Vogel IPR.


Figure 1

From Figure 1 , at 400 BOPD, THP 270 psi, and GLR 0.35 Mcf/bbl: Pwf = 1875 psi Pwf at 400 BOPD = 1875 psi. Similarly: From Figure 2 , at 600 BOPD, THP 270 psi, and GLR 0.35 Mcf/ bbl:

Figure 2

Pwf = 2100 psi Pwf at 600 BOPD = 2100 psi. By interpolation Pwf at 430 BOPD is:

Pwf at 430 BOPD = 1910 psi. The Vogel equation is:

Pwf Pwf/Pb q/q 0 0 1.000 446 0.2 0.928 1115 0.5 0.700 1784 0.8 0.328 2007 0.9 0.172 2230 1.0 0.000

4: Well 71 is completed over the interval 5245 ft to 5320 ft below tubing head. The interval contains three separate
horizons and differential depletion has resulted in horizon A having an average reservoir pressure of 1700 psi, potential 230 BOPD, GLR 0.4 Mcf/bbl. The figures for horizon B are 1950 psi, 150 BOPD, 1.2 Mcf/bbl, and for horizon C are 1620 psi, 310 BOPD, 0.5 Mcf/bbl. Each horizon exhibits a Vogel-type IPR. Plot the composite IPR and GLR versus rate curves. If the three horizons are produced simultaneously through 5200 ft of 2 7/8-in tubing, use the Gilbert gradient curves to plot the THP curve. What is the production rate against a THP of 350 psi? Also, use the top-down method to predict the production rate against a THP of 350 psi. Compare the answers obtained from the two approaches.

ANS: Table 1
Horizon A Mcf Pwf Pw q- q gas 1950 - - - -

1800 - - - 1700 1.0 0 0 0 1600 0.94 0.10 23 9.2 1500 0.88 0.20 46 18.4 1400 0.82 0.30 69 27.6 1200 0.71 0.45 104 41.5 1000 0.59 0.60 138 55.1 800 0.47 0.73 168 67.1 600 0.35 0.83 191 76.3 400 0.24 0.91 209 83.5 200 0.12 0.97 223 99.1 0 0 1.0 230 92.0 Table 2 HORIZON B Mcf Pwf p q q gas 1950 1.0 0 0 0 1800 0.92 0.15 23 27.6 1700 0.87 0.22 33 39.6 1600 0.82 0.30 45 54.0 1500 0.77 0.38 57 68.4 1400 0.72 0.44 66 79.1 1200 0.62 0.57 86 103.2 1000 0.51 0.69 103 123.6 800 0.41 0.78 117 140.2 600 0.31 0.86 129 154.8 400 0.20 0.93 140 168.0 200 0.10 0.97 146 175.0 0 0 1.0 150 180.0

Table 3 HORIZON C Mcf Pwf p q q gas 1950 - - - 1800 - - - 1700 - - - 1600 0.99 0.02 6 3.0 1500 0.92 0.15 47 23.5 1400 0.86 0.23 71 35.5 1200 0.74 0.42 130 65.0 1000 0.62 0.57 177 88.5 800 0.49 0.71 220 110.0 600 0.37 0.82 254 127.0 400 0.25 0.90 279 139.5 200 0.12 0.97 301 150.5 0 0 1.0 310 155.0 Table 4 TOTALS Mcf Rate GLR Pwf gas BOPD Mcf/bbl 1950 0 0 1.20 1800 27.6 23 1.20 1700 39.6 33 1.20 1600 66.2 74 0.89 1500 110.3 150 0.74 1400 142.2 206 0.69 1200 209.7 320 0.65 1000 267.2 418 0.64 800 317.3 495 0.64

600 358.1 574 0.63 400 391.0 628 0.62 200 414.6 670 0.62 0 427.0 690 0.62 Tables 1, 2 and 3 show data for Horizons A, B and C, respectively. Table 4 shows the total gas production, oil production and GLR for the 3 horizons. Table 5 q GLR Pwf Pwf THP THP BOPD Mcf/bbl psi ft ft psi 50. 1.05 1650 9,700 4,500 550 100 0.83 1570 10,000 4,800 525 200 0.70 1410 9,400 4,200 525 400 0.69 1030 8,000 2,800 450 600 0,62 500 4,400 -- 275 Figure 1 is the plot of IPR and GLR from Tables 1 through 4.

Figure 1

The THP curve comes from Table 5 The value of Pwf at the constant THP of 350 psi comes from the following table: Table 6 Equivalent q, BOPD GLR depth at 350psi Pwf (ft) Pwf (psi) 50. 1.05 3,200. 8,400. 1,350. 100. 0.83 3,600. 8,800. 1,325. 200. 0.70 3,600. 8,800. 1,275. 400. 0.64 3,500. 8,700. 1,200. 600. 0.62 3,400. 8,600. 1,225. (1) Production rate against a THP of 350 psi is 315 BOPD. (2) Using top-down method to predict production rate against a THP of 350 is 305 BOPD

5: The completion data of a well, producing from a reef limestone structure, are as follows:
Total depth 4052 ft 7-inch casing Surface to 4020 ft 3 1/2-inch tubing Hung at 4000 ft Casing-tubing packer installed just above tubing shoe The well was flowing at 280 BOPD of clean oil, a GOR of 600 scf/bbl, and a THP of 300 psi when it was decided to try the effects of an acidization treatment. During this treatment, 10,000 gal of acid were squeezed into the formation. A surface pressure of 3200 psi was needed to overcome the reservoir pressure of 1800 and to achieve the desired injection rate of 2 bbl/min. After the treatment, the well's production rate stabilized at 320 BOPD of clean oil through 3 1/2-inch tubing with a GOR of 1000 scf/bbl and THP of 300 psi. Determine whether or not the treatment was successful, and give an explanation of the results obtained. What would have been the production rate of the well at a THP of 300 psi if, instead of the acidization treatment, the 3 1/2-inch tubing string had been replaced with a 2 3/8-inch string (on the assumption that the change could have been made without damaging the producing formation)?

ANS: The first step is the calculation of the flowing BHP at various production rates and a GLR of 600 scf/bbl,
using 3 1/2-inch tubing and THP of 300 psi. The results are shown in table 1 (well potential before treatment). Table 1 q, Equiv. Depth of Equiv. Depth of Pwf, BOPD THP of 300 psi, ft well, ft psi 50 1600 5600 1150 100 2000 6000 1030

200 2300 6300 970 400 2800 6800 950 600 2700 6700 950 The flowing BHP's at various production rates through 3 1/2-in tubing with a THP of 300 psi and GLR of 1000 scf/bbl are calculated in table 2 (well potential after treatment). Table 2 q, Equiv. Depth of Equiv. Depth of Pwf, BOPD THP of 300 psi, ft well, ft psi 50 2000 6000 1000 100 2800 6800 970 200 3100 7100 850 400 3500 7500 810 600 3300 7300 820

The static well pressure is given as 1800 psi, and so the IPR can be drawn as shown in Fig.
3.7.1 (on the assumption that it is a straight line).

The results of table 1 are plotted in (crosses) Figure 1 (well potential before treatment).

Figure 1

The results of table 2 are also plotted (circles) in Figure 1 (Well potential after treatment).

Effect of Treatment
The actual production rate after acidizing. This point is marked 2 on Figure 1 , and it can be seen that within the limits of accuracy of the method, it lies on the IPR. Thus, the acidization was completely insuccessful in improving the oil productivity of the well. Indeed, the only real effect of the acid treatment was to increase the GLR of the well from 0.6 Mcf/bbl to 1.0 Mcf/bbl. As a result, the additional gas has slightly increased the well flow rate. Table 3 represents the values of the flowing BHP's at various production rates through 2 3/8-inch tubing with a THP of 300 psi and GLR of 0.6 Mcf/bbl. Table 3 q, Equiv. Depth of Equiv. Depth of Pwf, BOPD THP of 300 psi, ft well, ft psi 50 2400 6400 910 100 2800 6800 880 200 3000 7000 800 400 2900 6900 810

600 2800 6800 860 The results of table 3 are plotted in Figure 1 (triangles). The curve cuts the IPR at a production rate of 330 BOPD approximately, so a change in the tubing size would have been just as effective and a lot cheaper than acidizing.


A well may be produced with or without a choke at the surface to control the flow rate. Most flowing wells have surface chokes for one or more of the following reasons: to reduce the pressure and improve safety

to maintain a fixed allowable production limit to prevent sand entry from the formation to produce the well and reservoir at the most efficient rate to prevent water and gas coning to match the surface pressure of a well into a multi-well gathering line and to prevent back flow
In addition, any situation requiring control or reduction of the wells flow rate will normally be met by the installation of a surface choke. The surface choke is also used to ensure that pressure fluctuations downstream from the wellhead do not affect the performance of the well. To achieve this condition, flow through the choke must be of a critical velocity. The corresponding critical flow rate is reached, when the upstream pressure is approximately twice the downstream pressure. There are several different types of chokes currently in use. They may be divided into two broad categories: variable or adjustable chokes and positive or fixed orifice. Positive chokes have a fixed orifice dimension which may be replaceable and is usually of the bean type ( Figure 1 ). The flow path is normally symmetric and circular. Fixed orifice chokes are commonly used when the flow rate is expected to remain steady over an extended period of time.

Figure 1

Normal beans are 6 inches long and are drilled in fractional increments of th-inch up to -inch. Smaller bean inserts, known as X-type, are used to provide closer control. Ceramic, tungsten carbide, and stainless steel beans are used where sand or corrosive fluids are produced. Changing the size of a fixed orifice choke normally requires shutting off flow, removing and replacing the bean. Some continuously variable or adjustable chokes operate similarly to a needle valve and allow the orifice size to be varied through a range from no flow to flow through a full opening ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

Flow control is obtained by turning the hand wheel which opens or closes the valve. Graduated stem markings indicate the equivalent diameter of the valve opening. Another type uses two circular discs, each of which has a pair of orifices. One disc is fixed while the other can be rotated so as to expose the desired flow area or block the flow altogether ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

Because of their variable size opening the calculation of flow rates through adjustable chokes may not be as accurate as through orifice chokes. However, adjustable chokes may be used to control wells where changes in the production rates may be required periodically to meet market demands or allowables. Variable chokes are often used on water flood injection wells where variation in injection rates must be effected with minimal disruption. Variable chokes are particularly vulnerable to erosion from suspended sand particles and are not normally used in areas where this is a significant problem. The bodies of both types of chokes are L-shaped and the end connections may be fully flanged, fully threaded, or a combination of each. It is important in the design of the surface control system to understand the pressure versus flow rate performance of the choke at critical flow rates. Good correlations for single-phase flow of either gas or liquid through a choke are available, but they are not applicable to the multiphase flow situation we normally encounter in our wells. The performance correlations for multiphase flow through chokes are derived empirically and apply only at critical flow rates.

Choke Performance Relationships

The equation describing the relationship between upstream pressures, gas or liquid ratios, bean size, and flow rates at critical velocities in field units is as follows:

Where: R = GLR, Mcf/bbl q = flow rate, BOPD S = choke size, 64-th of an inch ptf = THP, psia From the nature of this equation, we see that for a given orifice size and GLR, the tubing head pressure plots as a straight line function of flow rate q. A typical plot is shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Note that as the orifice size increases or the GLR decreases, the line shifts downward. Gilbert (1954), while checking for choke erosion in the Ten Section Field, California, further refined the theoretical formula to yield more accurate pressure measurements, using this empirical relationship:

where: ptf is in psig. He found that these new values for the constant and the exponent agreed more accurately with empirical data. He presented the new version of the equation as a nomogram to make it practical for field use ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

Ros (1961) developed a theoretical formula to account for critical flow through a restriction. The equation he developed was later adapted to oil field use and converted to graph form by Poettmann and Beck (1963). Their conversion applies to oil gravities of 20, 30, and 40 degrees, API.


Integrating the IPR, THP, and Choke Performance
We now turn to methods of calculating the flow rate attainable by a well under various operating conditions. We know that the IPR curve gives the whole range of bottomhole flowing pressures and rates possible for any given productivity index and average reservoir pressure. But what will the actual production rate be? That depends on the vertical flow performance and surface control facilities. The most basic surface control system is one where there is no surface choke and where the wellhead and surface line pressure losses are minimal. For this condition we may analyze the well's performance by simply constructing a tubing head pressure curve. The procedure is straightforward. For a series of bottomhole pressures and flow rates, we calculate the pressure losses in the tubing using the appropriate pressure gradient curves for the well in question ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

By joining the calculated tubing head pressure points we obtain the desired THP curve ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

For any given constant THP, then, we can use this curve to estimate the flow rate, q. In unrestricted flow, the maximum flow rate is given by the intersection of the THP curve and the surface line pressure upstream of the gathering lines ( Figure 3 ). Calculating the well's flow rate in this manner is referred to as the "bottom-up" method.

Figure 3

Another way of performing the same analysis is the "top-down" method. In this method, we start our calculation with the known value of surface pressure. We then calculate the vertical pressure differences for several flow rates ( Figure 4 ) and join the values to give the bottomhole flowing pressure needed to sustain the various rates.

Figure 4

This required BHP curve is put on a graph with the IPR ( Figure 5 ). The intersection of these curves determines the flow rate for the assumed surface pressure.

Figure 5

In both the top-down and bottom-up methods, it is possible to consider different operating or downhole equipment conditions such as different tubing sizes or GLR. In this way, we may determine optimal flowing conditions for a well by plotting several different performance curves. By analyzing a range of variables the production engineer can then choose the appropriate tubing size or, in planning a gas lift system, the optimum GLR for a particular well so as to achieve an optimal design. Generally, the wellhead pressure must be sufficient to move oil through flow lines, separators, and other surface equipment. The pressure required at the wellhead depends upon the rate of flow and the nature of the surface equipment. To complete the analysis, we must calculate the pressure-rate relationship for the various pieces of equipment through which production must flow. By plotting in sequence such curves on our IPR diagram, we can calculate the flow potential of any system, and then learn which specific component controls the flow rate. Example: A well has the following data: tubing = 7000 ft of 2-inch gathering line - 2500 ft of 2-inch separator pressure = 150 psig = 2000 psig GLR = 800 Scf/bbl q = 3000 BOPD. Only oil is flowing and the bottomhole flowing pressure is above the bubble point. We are asked to estimate the well's production rate and to specify the piece of equipment that controls it.

We may estimate the well's performance by calculating the performance of each component in our system moving upstream from the separator. This is a top-down method. We begin by assuming three arbitary flow rates and, with appropriate multiphase horizontal flow rate correlations such as those presented in volume 1 of Brown's text (1977) we calculate the pressure losses in the gathering line. Because the pressure just upstream of the separator is 150 psig we can use these calculations to plot three tubing head pressure values ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

We can plot these values of pressure versus flow rate and obtain the required tubing head pressure curve as shown in Figure 7 .

Figure 7

For the same assumed flow rates, and the given tubing size, we now calculate the vertical pressure increases between the surface and the formation, and add them to the required THP's to give a plot of required bottomhole flowing pressures ( Figure 8 ).

Figure 8

This will be equal to the calculated tubing head pressure for a given rate plus the vertical pressure gain from surface to formation for that rate. Joining these points will give us the required BHP curve shown in Figure 9 .

Figure 9

It represents the effect of production through the wellbore and surface equipment for the specific case of a pressure on the upstream side of the separator equal to 150 psi. Now we add our inflow performance curve ( Figure 10 ).

Figure 10

Because we are above the bubble point, we know it is a straight line. It runs from our average reservoir pressure of 2000 psi to our pumped-off potential of 3000 BOPD. The point of intersect ion of the IPR with the required BHP curve is our system design. It represents the flowing rate for the well which will provide 150 psi at the separator. In this case it occurs at about 1500 BOPD. We can also use the "bottom-up" method of calculating this flow rate. Starting with the IPR we assume flow rates and generate a THP curve for the well in the usual way ( Figure 11 ).

Figure 11

By subtracting calculated pressure losses in the gathering lines for these flow rates from the THP curve we obtain a curve representing the pressure-rate relationship at the downstream side of the gathering line. The pressure at this point is also the pressure at the inlet to the separator. The intersection of this curve and the separator pressure is the flowing rate under the assumed conditions ( Figure 12 ).

Figure 12

By changing any one variable, for example, either the separator pressure, the gathering line size, the tubing size, or the GLR, the flow rate will also change. In order to optimize the design, then, an engineer will determine the system's sensitivity to these variables and see what the most economical use of the equipment will be. Without a choke in the line, any pressure variations on the surface will directly affect the well's ability to produce. One reason for the installation of a choke is to make it the controlling element in the system. The installation of a choke will reduce the flow rate and increase the tubing head pressures. Effective control is achieved only when the tubing head pressure is twice the pressure at the upstream point in the gathering system. This is the critical flow requirement. Installing a choke and using the "top-down" method, we can calculate the tubing head pressure required for criteral flow as being twice the THP that was calculated when we did not have a choke in the system. This new curve is the pressure upstream of the choke and is the new required THP curve ( Figure 13 ).

Figure 13

Now we add the vertical pressure differences in the tubing to find the required bottomhole flowing pressures. It is the intersection of this last curve with the IPR which determines the system flow rate ( Figure 14 ).

Figure 14

The choke performance can be added to the bottom-up solution we performed earlier. The IPR and THP curves do not change because we have not yet encountered the choke in our flow system. Now we add the effect of the choke which gives a curve below the THP equal to one half of the THP at each flow rate ( Figure 15 ).

Figure 15

This difference or loss in pressure represents the pressure losses through the choke during critical flow. We add a fourth curve representing losses in the gathering line. The point of intersection of this curve with our given separator pressure value is the system production rate if the production rate is controlled by the separator ( Figure 16 ).

Figure 16

The choke size must be chosen to yield a rate equal to or less than this production rate in order for the choke to control the well's production. This limiting condition is shown in Figure 17 .

Figure 17

If the choke size selected had been larger, the choke performance line would have been lower and given a higher flow rate at its point of intersection with the THP curve q2 ( Figure 18 ). The choke calls for a higher flow rate than the separator will allow. Under these conditions, then, the separator will control flow.

Figure 18

The rates and pressures of various choke sizes for this installation can now be calculated and an optimal choke size selected.

Stable flow occurs when fluctuations of pressure and flow rate are dampened and flow rate tends to return to a stable value. We have plotted in Figure 1 the THP and choke performance curve.

Figure 1

A flow rate at point 1, that is q1, is stable because an increase in flow rate to q2, increases bean backpressure to point "A" and reduces the tubing head pressure to point "B." In essence the pressure required by the choke to sustain this flow rate is greater than the THP available at this flow rate. Because an increase in backpressure of the amount A B is imposed on the well, the flow rate tends to decrease from q2 back to q1, the stable rate. In a similar manner a reduction in rate to q3, as shown in Figure 2 , will reduce the required THP, and therefore, reduce backpressure on the formation by the amount A B.

Figure 2

This will increase the flow rate back to q1 and once again the well returns to a stable flow condition. Unstable flow is also possible. It is illustrated in Figure 3 where a slight decrease in rate below q1 reduces the tubing head pressure below that required by the choke for critical flow.

Figure 3

This causes the flow rate to decrease until the well dies. An increase in flow rate above q1 reduces the backpressure on the formation causing further rate increases until a stable flow rate is reached beyond the maximum point on the THP curve. The maximum point on the THP divides the stable flow region from the unstable region ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

This becomes intuitively clear if we draw the IPR curve and then add the Vertical Pressure Loss curve, or VPL. Now we subtract the Vertical Pressure Loss from the IPR and obtain the THP curve ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

The THP maximum occurs where the slope of the IPR is equal in magnitude to the slope of the VPL curve ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

To the left of that point, any decrease in rate results in increased pressure losses in the tubing due to slippage. The well gradually loses sufficient bottomhole flowing pressure to support flow to surface. To the right of the maximum point, frictional losses dominate and the flow rates stabilize ( Figure 7 ).

Figure 7

Integrated Performance of a Flowing Well

The inflow performance curve describes flow into the wellbore and allows us to predict q, the pumped-off potential for a given average reservoir pressure. For any given tubing size we may calculate the vertical pressure losses in the tubing, and thus generate the THP curve. Assuming the installation of a surface choke and that critical flow occurs, we may generate a third curve of pressure and rate downstream from the surface choke. A fourth curve might be added to show pressure losses in the gathering system and, finally, the pressure and rate performance of the separator can be added. The intersection of curves 4 and 5 in Figure 1 is the maximum practical flowing rate qmax for the system.

Figure 1

The choke must be chosen so as to produce at that rate or less, otherwise the separator or other downstream equipment will control production. In Figure 2 the pressure losses throughout the system are quite apparent.

Figure 2

Starting at the average reservoir pressure and a given flow rate, q, we observe the pressure losses through the formation, through the tubing, across the surface choke and through the surface lines. In a sense the average reservoir pressure drives the whole system and is used up along the way. At each stage, however, there must be sufficient pressure to drive the subsequent systems at that flow rate otherwise flow stops at some point in the system. The component that controls or limits the flow rate determines the system capacity.


Let us now turn to the prediction of the future life of a flowing well. The efficiency of flow - that is the actual production rate divided by the formation potential, expressed as a percentage - is not constant throughout the life of a flowing well. In its earlier stages, the efficiency is high. But later on it will depend on the variations in GLR, the shape of the IPR, water cut, and the manner in which reservoir pressure decreases with cumulative production. When slug flow dominates vertical flow in the tubing, the efficiency of flow may even increase for a while. Towards the end of a well's flowing life, very sudden decreases in efficiency may occur and, of course, at the moment at which the well dies, the efficiency drops to zero. This picture is further complicated by decisions as to production policy -whether to attempt a steady rate of flow for as long as Possible by means of changes in choke size; whether to maintain a constant THP; or whether to let the well produce against a certain size of choke for Prolonged periods. Many factors are considered in determining optimal flow rates, including control of sand production, water coning, and gas depletion. In order to predict the future performance of a flowing well, we must know how reservoir pressure, GLR, and WOR will change with cumulative production. The behavior or these variables is Predicted by using reservoir engineering methods such as those of Tarner (1944) or Muskat (1981, 1949). In addition one must have a complete knowledge of the IPR, its current and future shape. The reservoir engineering analysis allows us to tie the average reservoir pressure with cumulative production. The IPR ties the average reservoir pressure with inflow rate. Joined together they allow us to predict the future inflow

performance of a well and the field. In order to relate the performance of an individual well to the cumulative production from the pool, a production analysis of every well draining the pool is necessary. The structural position as well as other geological and formation factors must be taken into consideration for each well in order to account for differences in GLR, WOR, and so on. Let us see how we would predict the performance of an individual flowing well. The analysis may be undertaken by either the "top-down" or the "bottom-up" method. This decision rests with the engineer in charge of the analysis in the light of the production policies to be adopted. Let us first look at the "bottom-up" method. In this analysis, flowing gradient curves are used to determine a series of THP curves based on assumed future average reservoir pressures and values of the GLR and WOR derived from the reservoir studies. In this way future THP's are obtained, one for each assumed value of average reservoir pressure or cumulative production ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

In this case, it has been decided to produce the well with a constant choke size at decreasing production rates until a certain minimum THP is reached ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

At that stage, the choke size is steadily decreased in an attempt to hold the THP at this level ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

But now we enter the unstable flow region; the well will not flow against the minimum THP. The well dies when the THP and choke curves intersect at an unstable flow rate ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

This analysis enables a plot to be made of the production rate from the well under study against the cumulative production from the field or pool. Similar plots are made for each producing well. It is now a simple matter to determine the time required for each cumulative production period and the contribution of each well to that cumulative production. In this way, a complete forecast for the pool, and for each well in the pool, is obtained. The "top-down" approach is similar, and would be used, perhaps, in a situation in which the production policy was to hold the THP constant at some reasonable minimum value in an attempt to maximize the production rate. The constant THP could be used, in conjunction with the gradient curves, to generate a vertical flow performance versus rate curve. As was shown earlier, the intersection of this curve with the IPR will give the actual production rate to be expected at that THP ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

A new assumed value for the average reservoir pressure changes the IPR and the gradient curves used: This process would be continued until a stage was reached at which there was no point of intersection between the "top-down" vertical flow curve and the corresponding IPR. In fact, the well could be expected to die at the stage at which these two curves just touched ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

The total pool performance is obtained by adding the cumulative production of the individual wells, as just described. A predictive technique, such as the one discussed, shows the potential of the formation as well as the rate of production at each stage of the life of the flowing well. This information assists in deciding whether or not a highrate artificial lift technique, such as gas lift, would be a profitable venture and, if so, the optimum time to install such a system. Alternatively, a well may remain on natural flow for as long as practical and then a pumping unit installed. Knowledge of the potential of the formation at the time of introducing the pumping unit will allow us to select the correct type and size and determine the power requirements.

EXCERCISE: 1: A certain well is completed with 7500 ft of 3 1/2-inch tubing in the hole, the tubing shoe being located just above
the top perforations. The well is flowing 130 BOPD of oil with a water cut of 25 percent and a GLR of 1200 Scf/bbl. (a) If the well's average reservoir pressure is 2800 psi and its gross PI is 0.32 B0PD/psi, estimate the size of choke in the flow line. (b) At what oil rate would the well flow if a 1/2-inch bean were substituted for the current one?

ANS: The value of the THP at the gross liquid rate of 173 BOPD is 640 psi. Use the following equation:

(a) Substituting R. q, and ptf

(b) Substituting 1/2-inch for choke size in equation will give:

Plotting this line, its intersection with the THP curve gives a flow rate of 450 BOPD.

2: Tests have led to the conclusion that the gradient curves in the flowing wells (all completed with 2 7/8-inch
tubing) in the Black Goose field are of the form: H = 2.5 C q 1n(p/ptf) + 1.25 (p - ptf) where: H is the depth in feet below tubing head q is the liquid production rate in BOPD p is the pressure (in psi) at the depth H ptf is the tubinghead pressure in psi and: C varies with the GLR as illustrated in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

Well A is currently flowing at 1450 BOPD, GLR 350 Scf/bbl, through 10,000 ft of 2 7/8-inch tubing, with a THP of 400 psi. The current average reservoir pressure at 10,000 ft below tubing head is 3200 psi. The IPR of well A is thought to be of the Fetkovich type, and reservoir analysis predicts that GLR will rise as the average reservoir pressure drops, in the manner shown in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

If it assumed that well A will be produced in such a way that the THP of 400 psi maintained throughout the flowing life, determine the future flow rate as a function of average reservoir pressure, and indicate the choke size at each stage. What will be the average reservoir pressure, the flow rate, and the formation potential when the well is on the point of dying?

ANS: The first step is to find the value of pwf which is the value of the inflow pressure at the foot of the tubing.
This is most readily done by plotting gradient pressure p (psi) against depth H (ft) of the tubing, or 10,000 ft. Current values are: q = 1450 BOPD GLR = 0.35 Mcf/bbl C = 2.45 (from Figure 1 )

Figure 1

ptf = 400 psi So the equation of the gradient curve is:

Substituting values of p in the above equation will result in Table 1. Table 1 p 600 800 p/400 1.5 2.0 ln (p/400) 0.405 0.693 8881 ln (p/400) 3,601 6,156 1.25 (p-400) 250 500 H 3,851 6,656

1000 1200 1400 1600

2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0

0.916 1.099 1.253 1.386

8,138 9,757 11,126 12,312

750 1000 1250 1500

8,888 10,757 12,376 13,812

pwf at 10,000 ft is approximately equal to 1115 psi. Substituting: q = 1450 BOPD and pwf = 1115 psi in Fetkovich's equation:

The value of J' at some future average reservoir pressure can be obtained from the following formula:

pi = average reservoir pressure

The equation of future IPR is:

Substituting different values of average reservoir pressure (3000, 2800, 2700, and 2600 psi, respectively) in equation (1) will yield the following results (table 2). Table 2 pi 3000 2800 2700 2600 J'f 1.511 x 10-4 1.411 x 10-4 1.360 x 10-4 1.310 x 10-4

Column (8) of Table 3 represents the values of present IPR. Table 3a

(1) pwf 3000 2500 2003 1530 1000 500 0 Table 3b (4) (5)

(2) pwf 2/104 900 625 400 225 100 25 0

(3) (32oo2-pwf)2/104 124 399 624 799 924 999 1024



(8) q (Present)

( pR 2 - pwf)2/104 at pR = 3000 0 275 500 675 800 875 900 2800 159 384 559 684 759 784 2700 104 329 504 629 704 729 2600 51 276 451 576 651 676

Column (3) x J' 200 643 1006 1288 1489 1610 1651

Table 4 represents the values of future IPR. Table 4a Values of q at pwf pwf = 3000 pwf = 2800 J'f = 1.511 x 10-4 Column (4) x J'f 3000 2500 2000 1500 0 416 755 1020 J'f = 1.411 x 10-4 Column (5) x J'f -224 542 789

1000 500 0 Table 4b Values of q at pwf

1209 1322 1360

965 1071 1106

pwf = 2700 J'f = 1.360 x 10-4 Column (6) x J'f

pwf = 2600 J'f = 1.31 x 104 Column (7) x J'f -67 362 591 853 755 886

3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0

-141 447 685 855 957 991

Results from tables 2, 3, and 4 are plotted in Figure 2 .

Figure 2

In order to determine the flow rates at a THP of 400 psi, we must plot the pwf-q curves for vertical flow based on a THP of 400 psi at each of the assumed static pressures. The points at which these curves intersect the corresponding IPR's are the future flowing production points. The following equation can be used to compute q versus pressure flowing gradient:

Tables 5 and 6 summarize the computation of q versus pwf Table 5a p 3200 In p/400 2.08 1.25 (p-400) 3500 Numerator 6500

2800 2400 2000 1600 1200 800 Table 5b Denominator pwf = 3000 GLR = 0.5 C = 3.0 15.60 14.60 13.44 12.07 10.40 8.24 5.20 Table 6 Production rate q at pwf = pwf = 3000 417 480 558 663 817 1090 1825

1.946 1.792 1.609 1.386 1.099 0.693

3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500

7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500

pwf = 2800 GLR = 0.7 C = 3.5 18.20 17.03 15.68 14.08 12.13 9.62 6.06

pwf = 2700 GLR = 0.8 C = 3.75 19.50 18.24 16.80 15.08 12.99 10.30 6.50

pwf = 2600 GLR = 0.92 C = 3.85 20.02 18.73 17.25 15.49 13.34 10.58 6.67

pwf = 2800 357 411 478 568 701 935 1560

pwf = 2700 333 384 446 531 654 871 1460

pwf = 2600 325 374 435 516 637 850 1420

From Figure 2 it is seen that the flow rates will be: 1200 BOPD at 3000 psi

910 BOPD at 2800 psi 700 BOPD at 2700 psi Moreover, the two relevant curves barely touch at the 2700 psi, while there is no point of intersection at 2600 psi. Thus the well is on the point of dying (400 psi THP) when the average reservoir pressure has fallen to 2700 psi. At that time, the flowing production is 700 BOPD, and the formation potential at this stage is 1000 BOPD. Finally the choke size required to maintain flow at a THP of 400 psi is given by the equation

where ptf is held at 400. The choke sizes are shown in table 7 Table 7 pwf 3200 3000 2800 2700 q 1450 1200 910 700 R 0.35 0.50 0.70 0.82 RO.5 0.592 0.707 0.837 0.906 S2 1290 1272 1142 951 Choke (in) 9/16 9/16 17/32 31/64

3: This is a hard and challenging problem. The student can attempt it at the instructor's discretion. A detailed
solution is provided. The data shown in Table 1 .

Table 1

have been obtained from a series or test on four wells (A, B, C, and D) in a certain field. By analogy with gaswell performance a reasonable assumption might be that the production rate, q, is related to the drawdown pR - pwf by an equation of the form: q = k(pR - pwf)n where k and n are constants in any particular test but may vary from test to test. It is further postulated that there is a relationship between the values of k and the values of n. Using a log-log plot of production rate against drawdown to determine k and n values for each of the six tests, construct a graph of log k as a function of n and hence construct a regular grid on log-log paper of production rate against drawdown for values of n equal to 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, and 0.8. Table 2 Additional data on well E (Well E was completed without a tubing-casing packer in the hole.) Well's cumulative Production (bbl) 0 150,000 Average Reservoir Pressure (psi) 3100 440 550 1947 Oil Rate (BOPD) GLR (scf/bbl) CHP (psi)

160,000 200,000 260,000

300 2440 350





Well E is currently flowing on 2 3/8-inch tubing at 200 BOPD of clean oil, GLR 700 Scf/bbl, through 1/4-inch choke. This well is perforated from 8003 to 8021 ft, and the tubing is hung at 8000 ft. The well's cumulative production to date is 460,000 bbl, and the current static pressure at the datum of 8000 ft is 1750 psi. The initial flowing BHP on well E was 2910 psi at a production rate of 540 BOPD, GLR 200 Scf/bbl. Some additional data from well E are listed above in Table 2. Plot the current IPR for well E. What is the well's potential at the present time? For well E prepare a graph showing the variation in average reservoir pressure and in GLR with cumulative oil production from the well. On the same graph, plot the production rate that would have been obtained from the well if it had been produced at a constant drawdown of 100 psi. Extrapolate these three curves to higher cumulatives as well as possible, and use these extrapolated curves to answer the following questions: 1. 2. 3. What would have been the production rate from the well at a draw-down of 600 psi when its cumulative production was 100,000 bbl? What will be the future flowing life history of this well on 2 3/8-inch tubing, assuming that the THP is maintained at 100 psi? What will be the well's maximum inflow potential when it ceases to flow, and what percentage of this potential will it actually be making immediately prior to dying?

ANSThe problem can be solved in the following steps:

Use data of Table 1 to plot rate against drawdown on log-log paper.

Table 1

Draw in the straight line that best fits the results from each well (shown in Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Determine the value of J and n as defined by the following equation:

Solve for simultaneous equations of different wells: log q = log k + n log

Determine, from one of the choke-performance equations, the current THP, and hence, the flowing BHP of well E. Locate the values of well E (production rate and BHP) on the plot of step 1, and draw in the straight line representing the IPR of well E. Use this line to plot the IPR of well E on a regular graph (see Figure 2 ). The present open flow potential of 700 BOPD may also be read off from the same figure.

Figure 2

Use given data from Table 2 and plot average reservoir pressure and GLR against the well's cumulative production.

Table 2

Extrapolate these curves to higher values. (see Figure 3 )

Figure 3

Plot on Figure 3 the production rate at the reference drawdown of 100 psi against cumulative production and extrapolate the curve. These points may be obtained from the data presented at cumulatives of 0, 150,000, 160,000, and 260,000 bbl. Table 2 shows an oil rate of 300 BOPD and a value of pwf determined from the CHP through the equation:

of 2363 psi. From the average reservoir pressure line of Figure 3 , pR at this cumulative for well E is 2620 psi, so that the drawdown at 300 BOPD is 257 psi. Locate this point on the plot of step 1 and interpolate the corresponding IPR line. This cuts the p = 100 line at q = 180 BOPD. To determine the production rate from when its cumulative production was 100,000 bbl, read off q10O at 100,000 bbl from Figure 3 ; this is 293 BOPD. Go back to the q-p log-log plot. Draw the corresponding line and determine the value of q (660 BOPD) when p = 600 psi. To determine the future flowing life, first choose some future regular cumulative production steps, for example, 480,000 bbl, 500,000 bbl, and so forth. Read off the corresponding values of q1OO from Figure 2 . Locate the points

on the plot of step 1. Read off a series of rate versus drawdown values for each line. Since the value of at each cumulative may be obtained from Figure 3 , the IPR curve at each assumed cumulative may be plotted (see Figure 2 ). Considering now, for example, the situation at a cumulative of 460,000 bbl, the GLR may be obtained from Figure 3 , and so the curve of pressure at the tubing shoe (assuming 100 psi THP) may be plotted on Figure 2 . The intersection with the IPR gives the flowing production rate (390 BOPD). This process is continued at increasingly higher assumed cumulatives until no intersection occurs. This situation is reached at a cumulative slightly in excess of 525,000 bbl ( Figure 2 ) at which point the well dies.

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