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THE SPE IMAGE LIBRARY SPE 2553

A Comparison of Existing Multiphase Flow


Methods for the Calculation of
Pressure Drop in Vertical Wells

2553

Espanol, J.H.,
Superior Oil Co.,
Holmes, C.S.,
Cities Service Oil Co. and
Brown, K.E.,
U. of Tulsa, Members AIME

Copyright 1969 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and


Petroleum
Engineers, Inc.

This paper was prepared for the 44th Annual Fall Meeting of the
Society of petroleum Engineers of AIME, to be held in Denver, Colo.,
Sept.
28-Oct. 1, 1969. Permission to copy is restricted to an
abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied.
The
abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by
whom the
paper is presented. Publication elsewhere after publication in the
JOURNAL
OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY or the SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL
is
usually granted upon request to the Editor of the appropriate journal
provided agreement to give proper credit is made.

Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion


should
be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussion
may
be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be
considered
for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.

ABSTRACT

The estimation of pressure drop for


multiphase flow in a vertical pipe is one of the
more complex problems in oil field practice.
The most successful solutions to this
problem involve trial and error calculations in
subdivided sections of flow patterns. No
two methods yield identical results for a
given set of flow conditions as the
multiphase flow problem is extremely difficult
to analyze. Fortunately the introduction
of the computer in the petroleum industry
THE SPE IMAGE LIBRARY SPE 2553

has enhanced the investigation of the


multiphase flow problem. Rapid computation
provides a means for comparison of individual
methods and an instrument for the
development of new correlations.
Three of the best correlations were chosen
and evaluated; the Hagedorn and Brown, Duns
and Ros, and Orkiszewski methods. The
accuracy of these new correlations was
determined against multiphase flow pressure drop
data from 44 wells. The best solution which
was both general and gave satisfactory
accuracy for all possible ranges of well
conditions was determined. The method of
Orkiszewski was found to be most accurate
for engineering design usage and was the
only correlation which could evaluate a
three phase flow condition when water is
simultaneously being produced with the
gas-oil mixture.

INTRODUCTION

Accurate prediction of the pressure drop


to be encountered during the multiphase flow
of fluids in a vertical well is desired for
good engineering data. The lack of reliable
pressure drop data and experimental flow
apparatus for correlation data gathering
represent the inherent problems of
obtaining a general multiphase flow model.
During multiphase flow in vertical tubing
at least four distinct regimes of flow are
identifiable. These are usually described
as the bubble, slug, transition, and mist
flow regions. Figure 1 illustrates the
geometrical configuration of the four regions
of flow. Bubble flow consists of a
continuous liquid phase with little free gas
present. As greater quantities of gas evolve
from the liquid phase, the gas bubbles
agglomerate, forming slug-like gas pockets
characteristic of the slug flow region. As
still greater amounts of gas are released,
the transition flow region forms in which
droplets of liquid become entrained in the
gas pockets. The gas pockets become
distorted and approach a continuous gas form.