Production Research Laboratory

The Production Research Laboratory is especially well-suited to undertake a number of projects with immediate application to improving the efficiency of surface facilities and reducing production costs.

The indoor laboratory includes an oilfield production flow system comprised of a flowing well (500 ft deep, 9-5/8 in. casing, 5 in. casing, and 2-3/8 in. tubing) a three-phase separator, gas and liquid metering systems, a liquid pumping system, and gas compression. The system is capable of flowing either single phases or mixtures of oil-water and water-air at rates up to 5,000 B/D (each liquid) and 1 MMcf/D of air at 300 psig. Additional facilities include a beam pumping system with a transparent (plexiglass) wellbore and tubing (60 ft high, 5 in. casing, and 2-3/8 in. tubing) outfitted with a standard rod pump. This allows visualization of the flow in the annulus and the tubing during beam pumping. The beam unit (Baker 16-53-30) has a variable-speed drive in order to be able to easily study dynamic effects at various pumping speeds. Flow is established as a closed system, and it is possible to simulate various productivities by controlling the return flow to the perforations and adjusting the produced gas/liquid ratios through injection of CO2 or N2 through the perforations.

Also, an inclinable (-3 to +90 degrees) flow loop for studies of multiphase flow in large diameter pipes (8 inch) is available in this Laboratory and has been used extensively to study flow behavior of multiphase mixtures. Most recently, it has been used to study the performance of subsea flowlines focusing on the effect of the flow regimes that exist in the vertical well on the establishment of flow regimes in the flowline.

The flexibility of this Laboratory leads to the possibility of undertaking numerous research projects. At this time research is directed to improving the efficiency of artificial lift systems and in particular beam pumping systems. The pumping-well installation has been instrumented to undertake detailed studies of the pressure and flow conditions in the subsurface pump. The objective is to characterize the pressure during a given pumping cycle and to correlate it to surface measurements of load and power consumption. A better understanding of the fluid dynamics through the valves and pump barrel will result in improved efficiency. Additional objectives include the development of a numerical model of the pump dynamics and design of an instrumented pump for full scalefield applications.

Contact information:

Augusto L. Podio
Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
1 University Station C0304
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas 78712-0228
Phone: (512) 471-3260 FAX: (512) 471-9605