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IV-2 Petroleum Engineering Handbook-Vol.


Fig. 1.1-Production system and associated pressure losses.

the fluid flows from the reservoir into and through the production system, it experiences a con-
tinuous pressure drop (as Fig. 1.1 shows). The pressure begins at the average reservoir pressure
and ends either at the pressure of the transfer line or near atmospheric pressure in the stock
tank. In either case, a large pressure drop is experienced as the reservoir fluids are produced to
the surface. It is the petroleum engineer's responsibility to use this pressure reduction in an
optimal manner. The pressure reduction depends on the production rate and, at the same time,
the production rate depends on the pressure change. Understanding the relationship between
pressure and production rate is important to predicting the performance of individual oil and
gas wells.
To design a well completion or predict the production rate properly, a systematic approach
is required to integrate the production system components. Systems analysis, which allows the
petroleum engineer to both analyze production systems and design well completions, accom-
plishes this. This chapter focuses on the flow of reservoir fluids through the production system,
particularly inflow performance, which is the reservoir pressure-rate behavior of the individual
well, and outflow performance, which is the flow of reservoir fluids through the piping system.

1.2 Reservoir Inflow Performance
Mathematical models describing the flow of fluids through porous and permeable media can be
developed by combining physical relationships for the conservation of mass with an equation
of motion and an equation of state. This leads to the diffusivity equations, which are used in
the petroleum industry to describe the flow of fluids through porous media.
The diffusivity equation can be written for any geometry, but radial flow geometry is the
one of most interest to the petroleum engineer dealing with single well issues. The radial diffu-
sivity equation for a slightly compressible liquid with a constant viscosity (an undersaturated
oil or water) is