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# Erosional Velocity Limitations for Oil and Gas Wells

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EROSIONAL VELOCITY LIMITATIONS FOR OIL AND GAS WELLS Introduction Flow of Sand-free Fluids Flow of Fluids Containing Sand Summary References

INTRODUCTION Erosion damage can occur in surface facilities of a multiphase oil or gas well because of the continued impingement of high velocity liquid droplets. The operative word here is "impingement"; such losses are almost always confined to points where the flow direction is altered, such as elbows, tees, manifolds, valves, and so on. In straight runs of pipe it is seldom of concern. It is therefore a relatively localized problem that is best examined on the basis of the pressure, temperature, and flow conditions that exist at a potential problem site. In gas-condensate systems, this may only be a potential problem at later stages in the life of a field, when operating pressures are relatively low. There are however, many low pressure gas wells that produce significant amounts of liquid water right from the outset for which erosion losses may be an important design consideration. In oil-gas systems, fluid velocities are usually well below the range of erosion loss concern for most of the life of a well. However, in later stages, when pressures drop, water production increases, and gas lift is often required to maintain profitable oil production levels. In such cases, gas velocities can become relatively high, and potential erosion effects should be considered. This Note examines current technology for taking erosion losses into account as either a design or operating practice consideration. back to top FLOW OF SAND-FREE FLUIDS To eliminate erosion losses, it is recommended in the publication API RP 14E (1981, 1984) that the maximum velocity in the system be limited to a value, V, defined by the following empirical equation,

where C = constant, typically 100 to 125 m = mixture density, lb/ft3 V*M = maximum allowable mixture velocity, ft/sec For continuous two phase flow, it is suggested that C = 100 should be used, while the higher value (C = 125) is recommended for intermittent two phase flow. It is noted in the 1984 release of the API publication that the recommended value of C is considered to be conservative and that higher values can be used in some cases, especially where there is no sand production. The mixture density is defined as,

## where EL = flowing liquid volume fraction L = liquid density G = gas density

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## Erosional Velocity Limitations for Oil and Gas Wells

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In most cases where erosion velocity considerations are significant, the flow rates are sufficiently high to assume that the flowing mixture will be a pseudo-homogeneous fluid (e.g. annular-mist or dispersed bubble flow). Hence,

where QL = volumetric liquid flow rate QG = volumetric gas flow rate Equation (2) can thus be written,

A critical review of API RP 14E (1981) was presented by Salama and Venkatesh (1983). Based on erosion data from water impingement tests, these authors claim that the C values recommended in the API publication are actually too conservative. They suggest that for sand-free two phase flow, C = 300 is a more appropriate and yet, still conservative, value. The two cases, which are shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2, are not inconsistent. The API publication implies that erosion should be expected at velocities greater than V computed with C = 100. Salama and Venkatesh claim that with the higher velocities bounded by V computed with C = 300, actual erosion losses should not exceed 10 mils/year (0.010 inch/year or 0.25 mm/year). The choice of which value of C to use when computing the velocity for an upper operating limit thus really appears to depend on the amount of erosion that is considered to be acceptable. A note of caution is in order however regarding even higher velocities. Salama and Venkatesh also noted that the erosion rate is proportional to roughly the 6th power of velocity. An increase of 10% in the velocity could therefore increase the erosion rate by about 75%! Documented experience with erosional velocity criteria is very limited. Wild (1986) presented erosional velocity values determined from a proprietary correlation for two cases of a high pressure gas system. It is interesting to note that the critical velocity is presented as a range, the lower limit of which is essentially the API value, while the upper limit is the Salama and Venkatesh value.

In another paper, Kasnick (1987) reported field experience with high pressure sour gas production having 35-55 bbl/MMscf

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## Erosional Velocity Limitations for Oil and Gas Wells

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(0.2 - 0.3 m3/1000 m3) associated liquids. No erosion was observed over a 90 day test period in several flow lines, where C values ranged from 105 to 120. Similarly, no erosion was found over the same period in a 4-1/2 inch tubing where the C value was 305. Monitoring consisted of weekly ultrasonic thickness measurements at points where restriction or changes in flow direction occurred. Flow rate, temperature, and pressure data were collected daily. Some erosion loss was, however, detected in pipeline sections where the velocity was as high as 60 ft/sec. Unfortunately no indication was given in the paper of either the operating pressure or the C value. On the basis of the foregoing, it would seem reasonable and still conservative to assume an erosional velocity limit for sandfree production based on C = 200.

Equations 1 through 4 can be modified in several ways to be more conveniently used with particular types of systems, as follows: (a) Gas-condensate fluid systems

where G = gas gravity (relative to air = 1.0) RL = liquid to gas ratio (bbl/MMscf or m3/1000 m3)
G

## = gas density (lb/ft3 or kg/m3)

= 1.354 x 104 (Field Units) = 1.230 x 103 (SI Units) In many cases, CL << 1, and from Equation (4)

## Equation 1 can thus be written as,

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## Erosional Velocity Limitations for Oil and Gas Wells

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This can be further modified, in terms of the gas production rate and the pipe diameter, as follows,

or

where Qomax = maximum allowable gas production rate (MMscf/day or 1000 m3/day) d = pipe inside diameter (inch or mm) 3 3 G = gas density (lb/ft or kg/m ) P = pressure (psia or kPa) T = temperature (oR or K) G = gas gravity (relative to air = 1.0) -3 1 = 6.20 x 10 (Field Units) = 6.748 x 10-5 (SI Units) -2 2 = 1.019 x 10 (Field Units) = 1.264 x 10-4 (SI Units) (b) Gas-crude oil fluid systems

where GOR = produced gas/oil ratio (scf/stb or m3/m3) Rs = solution gas/oil ratio (scf/stb or m3/m3) G = gas gravity (relative to air = 1.0) 3 3 G = gas density (lb/ft or kg/m ) Bo = oil formation volume factor (bbl/stb or m3/m3) WOR = water/oil ratio (stb/stb or m3/m3) Bw = water formation volume factor (bbl/stb or m3/m3)
1 = 0.0135 (Field Units) = 1.224 (SI Units)

back to top FLOW OF FLUIDS CONTAINING SAND The discussion to this point applies only for sand-free production. When sand is also produced, Salama and Venkatesh (1983) recommend that the maximum allowable velocity be computed from the relation,

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## Erosional Velocity Limitations for Oil and Gas Wells

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where d = pipe inside diameter (inch) Ws = rate of sand production (bbl/mo) where 1 bbl sand = 945 lb (429 kg) In all cases, the maximum velocity (as Ws 0) is assumed to be limited with the value computed by Equation 1 as a lower bound. Figures 3 and 4 show the maximum allowable velocities as a function of sand production rate. It is apparent from these figures that even relatively small amounts of sand production have a strong influence on the maximum velocity that should be permitted. For example, with 4" I.D. (102 mm) tubing and a typical gas density of about 4.0 lb/ft 3 (64 kg/m3), the effect of sand production dominates the allowable velocity at any sand production rate above about 100 lb/month (45 kg/month), or approximately 3 lb/day (1.4 kg/day). The criterion expressed by Equation 10 inherently assumes an acceptable erosion loss of about 10 mils (0.25 mm) per year. In more general terms, the relationship between the erosion rate in elbows and other relevant parameters is given by Salama and Venkatesh as

where he = erosion rate, mils/year VM = mixture velocity, ft/sec U = hardness (psi) (= 1.55 x 105 psi for steel)

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## Erosional Velocity Limitations for Oil and Gas Wells

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For field ells and tees, it is suggested that the erosion rate is only about one half of that for normal elbows, or

With he = 10 mils/year, and = 1.55 x 105 psi, Equation 12 reduces to Equation 10. Equation 12 can thus be used as the basis for determining V for any other acceptable erosion rates. back to top SUMMARY It is recommended that Equation (1) with C 200 and Equation (10) be used as the basis for determining the maximum allowable velocity in two phase gas well systems and related surface piping. Where erosion losses greater than 10 mils/year are acceptable, Equation (12) can be used directly. back to top REFERENCES API RP 14E, "Recommended Practice for Design and Installation of Offshore Platform Piping System", 3rd Edition, December (1981), 4th Edition, April (1984) Kasnick, M.A., "Khuff Gas Production Experience", Presented at the 15th Annual SPE Middle East Oil Show, Manama, Bahrain, SPE Paper No. 15764 (1987) Salama, M.M., and Venkatesh, E.S., "Evaluation of API RP 14E Erosional Velocity Limitations for Offshore Gas Wells", Paper No. OTC 4485, presented at 15th Annual Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, May (1983) Wild, P.C., "Design Considerations for High Pressure Gas Production Forecasting", presented at the 61st Technical Conference and Exhibition of the SPE, Paper No. 15397, New Orleans (1986)

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