An Experimental Investigation of Dynamic Behavior of Gravity-Driven Downhole Separators

Lopez, Jorge (The University of Tulsa) | Pereyra, Eduardo (The University of Tulsa) | Sarica, Cem (The University of Tulsa)


An experimental study of a gravity-driven downhole separator for a pumped horizontal or deviated well is presented in this study. It considers the effects of the upstream flow, gas and liquid flow rates and deviation angles on the global separation efficiency and the free gas at the pump intake. The efficacy of downhole separators is typically tested under steady-state conditions where the fluids are injected above the separator. A new outdoor facility, which allows the injection of a two-phase mixture below the separator was designed, constructed, and used in this study. Gas and liquid flow rates and deviation angle are varied to study the liquid holdup in the liquid-rich outlet and the separator efficiency. The experimental results demonstrate the effects of the operation conditions and deviation angle on the behavior of downhole separators. It is found that the separator has two regions of performance; namely, high efficiency region and a region where the efficiency decreases with the liquid flow rate. Moreover, the effect of the deviation angle affects the results. The findings provide conditions under which and where the separator can be operated efficiently in the field.