One of the methods to unload liquid from gas wells is foam-assisted lift. The applied surfactant reduces the liquid surface tension facilitating foam stability, and consequently, reducing mixture density and gas slippage. In this experimental study, a 2-in ID facility consisting of a 64-ft lateral section followed by a 41-ft vertical section is used to determine the optimum surfactant delivery location in horizontal wells. Water and compressed air are the liquid and gas phases, and an anionic surfactant is applied continuously with fixed concentration. Lateral section inclination is varied between ±1°, and four injection points are tested, including one with a static mixer, used as an external source of agitation. Recorded parameters are flow pattern, pressure gradient, liquid holdup, and foam quality.
In the lateral section, the highest efficiency is obtained by using a static mixer causing significant drop in liquid holdup and increase in pressure drop due to frictional losses. All other injection points show similar behavior to the air-water case, due to negligible generated foam amid the existing flow pattern agitation. In the vertical section, all injection points show similar and significant drops in liquid holdup and delays in liquid loading onset compared to air-water case, and foam quality decreases as gas flow rate is reduced. Increasing the liquid flow rate causes increases in liquid holdup and pressure drop and shifts liquid loading onset to higher gas flow rates. The experimentally observed liquid loading onset is compared to the predictions of Turner et al. (1969), and a modification is proposed in this correlation to consider the effects of surfactant injection.
The number of experimental studies investigating foam effects on liquid loading is limited especially for off-vertical configurations. The results of this study provide an experimental source to optimize foam lift in deviated wells.