Technical Paper: Drift-Flux Parameters for Three-Phase Steady-State Flow in Wellbores

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 89836
Presentation Date: 2005
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Drift-flux models represent multiphase flow in wellbores or pipes in terms of a number of empirically determined parameters. Because of the lack of data for two- and three-phase flow in large-diameter inclined pipes, existing parameters are commonly based on small-diameter pipe experiments, which can lead to significant errors when the models are applied to wellbore flows. In this work, we use recent large-diameter experimental data for the determination of drift-flux parameters for oil/water/gas flow. The parameters are computed through application of an optimization procedure. It is shown that in-situ gas volume fraction in three-phase systems can be estimated using a two-phase flow model by viewing the system as an effective gas/liquid system, with oil and water constituting the “liquid” phase. This approach is, however, generally inaccurate for the determination of oil and water holdups, in which case the effect of gas must be taken into account. Specifically, for pipe inclinations away from horizontal, even small amounts of gas can act to eliminate the slip between oil and water. As the pipe deviation approaches horizontal, however, oil/water slip persists, even in the presence of gas. We develop and apply a unified two- and three-phase flow model to capture this gas effect. The new model is shown to provide much more accurate predictions for oil and water holdups in three-phase systems than were achievable with previous models.

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