Investigation of Holdup and Pressure Drop Behavior for Oil-Water Flow in Vertical and Deviated Wells

[+] Author and Article Information
J. G. Flores

Schlumberger Wireline and Testing, Avenida Ugarte Pelays, Maturin, Eds. Manayas, Venezuela

C. Sarica, T. X. Chen, J. P. Brill

The University of Tulsa, Petroleum Engineering Department, 600 South College Avenue Tulsa, OK 74104-3189

J. Energy Resour. Technol 120(1), 8-14 (Mar 01, 1998) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2795016 History: Received October 07, 1997; Revised December 02, 1997; Online November 06, 2007


Two-phase flow of oil and water is commonly observed in wellbores, and its behavior under a wide range of flow conditions and inclination angles constitutes a relevant unresolved issue for the petroleum industry. Among the most significant applications of oil-water flow in wellbores are production optimization, production string selection, production logging interpretation, down-hole metering, and artificial lift design and modeling. In this study, oil-water flow in vertical and inclined pipes has been investigated theoretically and experimentally. The data are acquired in a transparent test section (0.0508 m i.d., 15.3 m long) using a mineral oil and water (ρo /ρw = 0.85, μo /μw = 20.0 & σo−w = 33.5 dyne/cm at 32.22°C). The tests covered inclination angles of 90, 75, 60, and 45 deg from horizontal. The holdup and pressure drop behaviors are strongly affected by oil-water flow patterns and inclination angle. Oil-water flows have been grouped into two major categories based on the status of the continuous phase, including water-dominated and oil-dominated flow patterns. Water-dominated flow patterns generally showed significant slippage, but relatively low frictional pressure gradients. In contrast, oil-dominated flow patterns showed negligible slippage, but significantly large frictional pressure gradients. A new mechanistic model is proposed to predict the water holdup in vertical wellbores based on a drift-flux approach. The drift flux model was found to be adequate to calculate the holdup for high slippage flow patterns. New closure relationships for the two-phase friction factor for oil-dominated and water-dominated flow patterns are also proposed.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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