Evaluating Liquid Loading Using Multiphase Dynamic Flow Simulation in Complex Openhole Multilateral Gas Condensate Wells

Saradva, Harshil (Sharjah National Oil Corporation) | Jain, Siddharth (Sharjah National Oil Corporation) | Hamadi, Masoud Al (Sharjah National Oil Corporation) | Thakur, Kapil Kumar (Schlumberger) | Govindan, Gunasekar (Schlumberger) | Ahmed, Ahmed Fadl Mustafa (Schlumberger)


This paper presents a case study from Onshore wells in Sharjah, UAE on investigating liquid loading in 5 multilateral gas wells having various trajectories ranging from toe-up, toe-down and hybrid openhole legs. These wells are subjected to wellhead pressure reduction to maximize production rates. The main objective of the study was to evaluate the production performance for different completion designs with respect to liquid loading onset and overall production assessment with declining reservoir pressure.

Dynamic multiphase flow simulator was used to conduct this study to accurately capture the details of the multilaterals system and its complex trajectories. The first step involved validating the well model with reasonable history match between the simulation and actual production data. The validated model then was used as a basis for predicting the liquid loading onset point for a given reservoir pressure decline. Multiple cases were investigated to evaluate various completion options (i.e. with or without tubing) to determine how and when the liquid loading occurs at different laterals with varying lateral trajectory.

This study has showed that in such complex multi-lateral wells, laterals load up at different points in time and reservoir pressures, being affected mainly by the geometry and orientation of lateral and the production contribution. Moreover, installing tubing in these wells had the opposite anticipated effect on liquid loading by accelerating the liquid loading onset in the laterals due to the imposed additional restriction. Generally, toe-down trajectory tends to have thicker liquid film and a potential for reduced flow contribution due to liquid accumulation at the toe.

These wells have a fishbone openhole multilateral network with comingled flow in the vertical section. It is observed that production tubing in the vertical section provides friction that accelerates the onset of liquid loading and hence results in decreased production for wells operating in very low reservoir pressure range. Based on overall production assessment ‘no tubing’ scenario would be more beneficial. Further, the timing of implementation of the tubing restriction later in the field life can be selected based on dynamic simulations (also evaluating economic constraints vs production gain).

Transient mechanistic flow model captures the liquid loading phenomena by film reversal which usually occurs before the critical rate limit based on droplet drag forces assessment. Further, liquid loading onset occurs in the laterals first rather than the tubing section which reduces the applicability of conventional nodal analysis tools. Evaluating liquid loading behaviour in such multilateral wells with proper dynamic simulation is critical for understanding the laterals behaviour and therefore optimizing the production performance to maximize the wells uptime and ultimately the overall gas recovery as well as optimal usage of CAPEX.