# SPE Production & Operations Volume 25, Number 2, May 2010, pp. 182-194

SPE-120625-PA

### Guidelines for the Proper Application of Critical Velocity Calculations

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DOI  10.2118/120625-PA http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/120625-PA

### Citation

• Sutton, R.P., Cox, S.A., Lea, J.F., and Rowlan, O.L. 2010. Guidelines for the Proper Application of Critical Velocity Calculations. SPE Prod & Oper  25 (2): 182-194. SPE-120625-PA. doi: 10.2118/120625-PA.

### Discipline Categories

• 5.6 Multiphase Flow in Wells
• 5.1 Design and Optimization
• 5.3 Production Enhancement
• 5.2 Artificial Lift Systems

### Keywords

• Production and Operations

### Summary

Critical velocity calculations in the form of charts or simple equations are frequently used by field personnel to evaluate a gas well’s flowing conditions to determine if the well is experiencing liquid-loading problems. Literature detailing the critical velocity necessary to keep a gas well unloaded suggests using the conditions at the top of the well as an evaluation point. This is convenient for personnel conducting the evaluation because wellhead pressure and temperature data are readily available. A number of situations exist where the use of the wellhead as the evaluation point can lead to erroneous conclusions. The most obvious situation occurs with a change in geometry downhole when a tapered tubing string is run in a well or when the tubing is set above the perforations. In these instances a more robust evaluation results from using conditions at the bottom of the well and the downhole tubing geometry. Other conditions exist where the use of downhole conditions provides a better evaluation point. The assumptions used in the development of the standard, simplified form of the critical velocity equations and charts may not be appropriate for downhole application. In these cases, the fundamental equations must be used. The calculation of critical velocity requires knowledge of pressure, temperature, produced fluids, and pressure/volume/temperature (PVT) properties. The determination of critical rate requires the same properties with the addition of pipe diameter. The required PVT properties, including surface tension and density for both the gas and liquid phases, are reviewed. Correlations to calculate water/gas surface tension were found to have excessive error, so a new, more accurate method is presented. This paper provides recommendations for the use of a surface or a downhole evaluation point is more appropriate for the determination of the minimum critical gas velocity in a well.

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### History

• Original manuscript received: 4 February 2009
• Meeting paper published: 5 April 2009
• Revised manuscript received: 12 August 2009
• Manuscript approved: 10 September 2009
• Published online: 15 April 2010
• Version of record: 11 May 2010