Abstract

Liquid loading is one of the major flow assurance challenges in gas wells, causing production problems and reducing the ultimate recovery. Liquid loading is defined as the inability of a well to carry all the co-produced liquid up the tubing. This leads to liquid accumulation in the well resulting in increased bottomhole pressure and decline of gas flow rate. Although many studies have been performed on liquid loading phenomena, available models generally lack the ability to capture transient behavior of liquid loading in gas wells. We have developed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model using Ansys Fluent 19.1 R3 version to model the transient features of liquid loading.

In this study, the CFD model is developed and validated with data from 42 meter long vertical pipe lab at Texas A&M University. The Eulerian multiphase approach combined with volume of fluid approach (VOF) - Multi-fluid VOF model with realizable k-Є turbulence closure is used to study the flow behavior. In addition, hexahedral mesh is utilized and compared to tetrahedron mesh to test accuracy and computational time.

The developed CFD model has unique parameters combinations that shows an acceptable agreement with the experimental work. Model accuracy and computational time is improved by using hexahedral mesh. Liquid film flow reversal mechanism is expected to be the root cause of liquid loading in gas wells rather than droplet fall back mechanism. The CFD model captures the transition from one phase to another that is crucial for determining well end life. Model novelty is based on the ability to be a reliable predictive tool that can help in the remediation of liquid loading and give a precise representation of liquid loading transient behavior in gas wells.

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